Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko share a manager and a trainer, and they’d sparred at least 300 rounds together earlier in their career.
On Saturday at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, they added 12 classic rounds to the file.
Jacobs’ superior boxing proved to be the difference, as he pulled out a hard-fought split decision to win the vacant IBF middleweight belt. Julie Lederman had it 114-113 for Derevyanchenko, but she was overruled by Tom Schreck and Steve Weisfeld, each of whom had it 115-112 for Jacobs. Yahoo Sports also scored it 115-112 for Jacobs.
“Sergiy is as tough as they come and he is one of the most skillful fighters I have stepped into the ring with, including Triple-G [ex-champion Gennady Golovkin],” Jacobs said. “Triple-G avoided him for a reason. This guy is definitely tough. He didn’t have much to offer so they didn’t take the fight, but he is as tough as it gets. I accepted this fight because I wanted the strap.”
He got it by putting on one of the best performances of his career. He dropped Derevyanchenko late in the first round and landed the harder punches throughout. Jacobs was the more accurate puncher and that showed in the CompuBox stats.
Jacobs connected on 181 of 578 punches, for 31.3 percent. Derevyanchenko landed 160 of 658, for 24.3 percent. There wasn’t much to choose from between the two, but accuracy and cleaner punches was enough to swing it in Jacobs’ direction.
The win makes Jacobs the leading contender for Canelo Alvarez’s first defense of the titles he won from Golovkin last month in Las Vegas. Alvarez is going to fight Rocky Fielding in what is essentially a tune-up fight on Dec. 15 in New York that is not expected to be at all competitive. A match with Jacobs, though, will be and that’s the one Jacobs said he wants.
“We absolutely want Canelo,” Jacobs said. “I think that’s a fight that the fans want, especially those who have been agreeing with me when I said I felt like I beat Triple-G. It’s going to be a great fight for the fans.”
If it wasn’t a great fight with Derevyanchenko, it was certainly very good and quite compelling. Derevyanchenko buzzed Jacobs several times and appeared to hurt him in the second.
Jacobs denied being hurt, though he said, “I saw the lights. I seen stars, but he didn’t hurt me.”
He pushed him to the limit, though, and gave the fans one of the best fights in what is quickly becoming one of boxing’s most compelling divisions.