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Jacobs beats Sulecki, eyes another middleweight title shot

NEW YORK — Daniel Jacobs won a unanimous decision over Maciej Sulecki on Saturday night, strengthening his hopes of getting another middleweight title shot.

Jacobs scored a 12th-round knockdown and pulled out a competitive fight, winning by scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112 and handing the Polish fighter his first loss.

The Associated Press scored it 116-111 for Jacobs.

Jacobs (34-2-0) became the mandatory challenger for the WBA middleweight title, giving the Brooklyn fighter hopes of a chance to avenge his loss to Gennady Golovkin from last year. He also mentioned a fight with Jermall Charlo, who became the WBC’s interim middleweight champ with a second-round knockout of Hugo Centeno Jr. in this same ring last week.

“My plan is to fight any of the champions with the belts, any of the top guys at middleweight,” Jacobs said. “If Brooklyn wants Charlo, then Charlo it will be.”

Jacobs had a much tougher time with Sulecki (26-1), who seemed to gain confidence as the fight went on and was getting the better of some of the action in the late rounds until Jacobs caught him with a quick right to the head early in the 12th, sending Sulecki to the canvas as Brooklyn fans roared for the hometown fighter.

There had been chants of “Brook-lyn, Brook-lyn” earlier in the bout from the local fans that made up the announced crowd of 7,892 at Barclays Center. But the vocal section of Polish fans grew louder in the later rounds as their fighter rallied.

They had traded hard shots across the final seconds of the third, Jacobs smiling in his corner afterward as if pleased the action was picking up. Disappointed that Luis Arias went defensive and he had to settle for a decision in his last bout, Jacobs seemed to enjoy being in a real fight Saturday.

He won it by finding a way to be just a bit quicker than Sulecki in their exchanges. But promoter Eddie Hearn has been calling Jacobs the best middleweight in the world, and at times Saturday he was barely the best middleweight in the ring.

Sulecki gave a long, confident stare at Jacobs after the ninth round and simply shook his head when Jacobs landed a solid left in the 10th. But perhaps he was feeling too confident and got careless in the 12th, when Jacobs caught him when Sulecki couldn’t afford to go down if he had any hopes of pulling out a decision.

Earlier, Jarrell Miller remained unbeaten and made his case for a potential shot at heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua by winning a unanimous decision against Johann Duhaupas.

The 304-pound “Big Baby” won 119-109 on two judges’ cards and 117-111 on the other. He improved to 21-0-1 in just his fourth fight that didn’t end in a stoppage.

He sure tried, though, pounding away with power shots throughout the fight that had swelling all around Duhaupas’ eyes in the final rounds.

“He was a tough, durable fighter,” Miller said. “I thought I could get him out of there earlier but he ate all my punches, even the ones I threw with bad intentions.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn discussed the possibility of having Joshua, holder of three heavyweight title belts, face Miller next, rather than a unification bout against Deontay Wilder, in what would be his first fight outside of his native Britain.

“I’m ready for Anthony Joshua,” Miller said. “Let’s bring him to Brooklyn and show him how we do it.”

The pressure was on Miller to fight and entertain well to look worthy of the matchup, and he was up to the task. He came to the ring in a “Black Panther” mask and promptly began pounding Duhaupas (37-5) with an array of punches, trapping his nearly 60-pounds-lighter opponent against the ropes and crouching low to go to the body or get good leverage to fire uppercuts.

The brash big man said he wants the Joshua fight but made it clear he will have other options.

“I’m not going to sit here and sit on my knees and beg,” he said.