The fight between middleweight contenders Daniel Jacobs and Maciej Sulecki took on added significance on Thursday.
The fight, scheduled to take place on April 28 in the main event of an HBO-televised card at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, was elevated to an official middleweight world title elimination fight, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced.
The winner will become the mandatory challenger for one of the belts held by unified world champion Gennady Golovkin.
Former secondary world titlist Jacobs (33-2, 29 KOs), 31, who is from Brooklyn, is aiming for an eventual rematch with Golovkin. Jacobs dropped a close unanimous decision to GGG last March.
He then signed with Hearn and HBO and had the first fight of his new deals in November, when he easily outpointed Luis Arias. His becoming the mandatory challenger again with a win over Sulecki figures to help the title fight be made relatively easily.
"I'm grateful for the WBA for this opportunity and it gives me even more motivation going into April 28," Jacobs said. "I feel that I beat GGG in the first fight and everyone knows my plan has always been to fight the winner of the (Canelo Alvarez-Golovkin) rematch. Now there is no hiding place."
The May 5 rematch between Alvarez and Golovkin, however, is likely to be canceled with Alvarez expected to be suspended for at least six months at an upcoming Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing due to two failed drug tests for the performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol in February.
If Alvarez-Golovkin II is pushed back to the fall, as many expect, it would just mean a longer wait for the Jacobs-Sulecki winner to get the title opportunity.
Sulecki (26-0, 10 KOs), 28, of Poland, moved down to junior middleweight for his three fights in 2017, including a 10-round decision win against former secondary titlist Jack Culcay in October, but he will return to middleweight to face Jacobs with the added bonus of now having the opportunity to become a mandatory challenger for a 160-pound world title.
"This is great news for Jacobs and Sulecki and it's such a huge opportunity," Hearn said. "When we signed Danny, the aim was always to fight the winner of Canelo versus GGG, but sometimes in boxing, politics will work against you. Sometimes you have to take destiny in your own hands and now we know that victory on April 28 will lead us to the promised land. Danny Jacobs is the best middleweight in the world and now he can go and prove it."