Luis Arias takes the big stage in Long Island
It’s been a long, winding road for middleweight hopeful Luis “Cuba” Arias, who has bounced from Mayweather Promotions to RocNation Sports. For years at a time, it seemed as though his career was stuck in neutral and stagnating but, this Saturday night, he finds himself in the spotlight as he faces Daniel Jacobs in the main event at the Nassau Coliseum on HBO.
Arias’ path was rather circuitous but here he is.
“I’m just happy to finally be on the stage I feel I’ve always belonged on,” told UCNLive.com. “The opportunity to prove to the world that I’m a world-class fighter and I’m finally here. The ups and downs finally got me here for this moment.”
Arias, who is coming off an impressive fifth round stoppage of Arif Magomedov on the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev II undercard at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, in mid-June, thought he would be supporting Ward again.
He explained, ”Originally, the plan was to fight on HBO alongside Andre Ward, so we were just kinda waiting on the Andre Ward fight to get done and then Ward ended up retiring.” The date for this event was supposed to be November 4 in Oakland, California. So at that point, Arias was in limbo. “We didn’t know if we were going to get our own date. We didn’t know what was going to happen.
“They were like, ‘Yo, just stay in the gym; HBO’s going to come back with something,’ and then, on a Friday morning, ‘Yo, they’re offering you Jacobs,’ and I said, ‘Oh, OK.'”
At that point, around mid-September, a deal was closed by Jacobs to sign with Matchroom Boxing and enter a multi-fight deal with HBO, which is planting its flag in the 160-pound class.
“They said, ‘They kinda want an answer by the end of the day,’ so I said, ‘OK.’ We just took the fight; I didn’t hesitate. I wanted to take the fight right away but you always have to work on the logistics. We didn’t hesitate to take the fight. It’s a great opportunity against somebody with a big name and it’s a very winnable fight. We’re ready,” said Arias, 18-0 (9).
So why was Arias chosen as the opponent for Jacobs’ much ballyhooed debut under the Matchroom Boxing banner?
“Honestly, it’s not necessarily that they chose me – I think I was the only one willing to take the fight,” Arias clarified. “I heard other people turned the fight down. I don’t really know, since I wasn’t involved but I heard they offered (former IBF titlist David) Lemieux the fight. They offered a couple of other people the fight and they just didn’t want the fight.”
Lemieux will face WBO middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders on December 16 (in another middleweight bout on HBO) near Montreal, Quebec.
“So they came up to me and we still wanted to fight on HBO. So they were like, ‘You still want to fight on HBO? Here ya go; it’s an opportunity for you to be the main event versus Jacobs.’ So I think it was a mixture of not a lot of people willing to take the fight and I was the least expected to take the fight, as well,” said Arias, who, besides the fact he’s with RNS, perhaps really had no choice, given the status of the company.
Jacobs is certainly the favorite here and he comes into this fight after a strong outing against unified champion Gennady Golovkin last March. Although Arias dismisses his effort, it’s clear that Jacobs is the more seasoned fighter at the world-class level.
The question is: Is Arias ready for an assignment of this nature?
“One-hundred percent, I’ve been ready,” he answered without hesitating. “If it wasn’t for the ins-and-outs of the game, I’d be 24, 25-0, with a handful of television fights but I had to deal with what I had to deal with, which is the reason why the world hasn’t been able to see me. But the talent’s always been there. I just fought my first ranked opponent in the Top 10 in June – smoked him.
“This is just another guy I should be able to beat. If I’m everything I know I am, I should be able to beat a former world title challenger, regardless of who it is. So that’s how I’m taking the fight.”
As you see pictures of the two standing next to one another, it’s clear that Jacobs is the taller/bigger fighter and his record, 33-2 (29), indicates he is the more powerful puncher. However Arias remains undaunted, insisting, “I want a war, man. I’m not going to sit there and try to outbox a boxer, so I want a dogfight. I’m going to do what I have to do to make it a dogfight. Jacobs, from what I read, from what I saw, is coming to knock me out, so I’m coming for a war. He’s coming to knock me out. That means he’s going to meet me right in the middle of the ring.”
While Jacobs boxed versus “GGG,” you would expect a more aggressive strategy this weekend.
“I’m hoping he does that but, like I said, you can go back and look at all of Jacobs fights,” Arias continued. “If he’s faster and quicker than you, yeah, he’ll come at you but if you hit him – it’s a different story. So we’re going to find out next weekend.”
For Arias, this is his opportunity to get into the mix with Golovkin, Saul Alvarez, Lemieux, Saunders and Demetrius Andrade. Coming in, Jacobs is being mentioned for these names.
“So many people are counting me out, not even really looking at the fighter. They’re just looking at the names. Once I beat Jacobs, I make my mark,” he said. “I’ll be one of the top dogs in the division. I was told this fight is a title eliminator, which is one of the other reasons I took it so quick.
“So it’s my time to make my point that I belong among the best.”
Here’s this week’s edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and me. We’re joined by Jim Boone of KO Tickets.
Here’s the latest edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule” with Mario Lopez and Yours Truly.
LONG ISLAND FLURRIES
So UFC President Dana White is really getting into boxing, huh? OK, this will be interesting…WBC lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia has decided to pass on a unification bout with WBA champion Jorge Linares and will fight on Showtime on January 27. That’s a buzzkill…Really enjoyed ESPN’s “30 for 30” on Ric Flair. So he really had 10 beers and five mixed drinks a day?! Then, twice a day he – never mind…So ESPN really got Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells to sit down and participate in an upcoming “30 for 30” on their relationship. Well, call me Bart Scott because I can’t wait for this one…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.