by Cliff Rold
This is the beginning of goodbye.
While industry speculation was in the air well before, the aftermath of Saul Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin II made it official. HBO Boxing will soon join the Gillette, the commentary of Don Dunphy, and Wide World of Sports as part of the rich broadcasting history of the sport.
As part of boxing’s past.
The future isn’t quite here yet.
This weekend, one of the final HBO show will be headlined by a middleweight fight for a vacant title that looks good on paper and may mean more than it appears to heading into 2019.
The new landscape of boxing is already seeing plenty of jockeying for position. Fans who hope for a new era where all the fights they want happen more rapidly than in years past will be disappointed. Fans who can’t get enough inside baseball should pay close attention here.
Right now, the middleweight division is critical. It’s WBC, WBA, and lineal champion also happens to be the biggest active money draw in the sport. Alvarez has signed a multi-year deal with DAZN. DAZN also has WBO middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade in their tent.
The only belt that isn’t firmly in the DAZN wheelhouse is the IBF belt. Its vacancy will be rectified Saturday night (HBO, 10 PM EST). A Jacobs win would likely be a good thing for DAZN, lining him up for a potential showdown with Alvarez. A Derevyanchenko win would be a wild card at a time when the PBC lacks a foothold in the class.
The fight in the ring should be good. The fight outside might be too.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Title/Previous Titles: None (Previously held a WBA sub-title)
Height: 5’11 ½
Weight: 159 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Brooklyn, New York
Record: 34-2, 29 KO, 1 KOBY
Press Rankings: #2 (Ring), #3 (TBRB, ESPN, BoxRec), #5 (Boxing Monthly)
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-2, 1 KOBY (5-2, 5 KO, 1 KOBY including WBA sub-title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 140-4-3 (.963)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Ishe Smith UD10; Dmitry Pirog TKO by 5; Caleb Truax TKO12; Sergio Mora TKO2; Peter Quillin TKO1; Sergio Mora TKO7; Gennady Golovkin L12
Titles/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 159 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: Brooklyn, New York (Born in Ukraine)
Record: 12-0, 10 KO (36-1, 17 KO including World Series of Boxing Results)
Press Rankings: #4 (Ring), #6 (TBRB, ESPN), #8 (Boxing Monthly), #9 (BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1st major title opportunity
Last Five Opponents: 104-37-4 (.731)
Current/Former World Champions Faced: Sam Soliman TKO2
The Case for Jacobs: No one can say Jacobs is taking the easy road. This fight will present him with his fifth undefeated foe in six fights. Jacobs can lean on that experience against an opponent who is making what appears a massive step up in class. He’s a big puncher but so is Derevyanchenko; where Jacobs has some solid advantages are in height and almost five inches of reach on paper. Jacobs has good feet and a long, hard jab that will make Derevyanchenko work hard to get close. Jacobs should have the edge in speed and those critical inches his jab give him can exacerbate it. If the knockout comes, Jacobs can take it but his best bet is to box smart, steady, and avoid prolonged exchanges.
The Case for Derevyanchenko: Like his countryman and former teammate Vasyl Lomachenko, Derevyanchenko is more experienced than his official professional record. He had 24 fights in the World Series of Boxing competitions that straddled the line between pro and amateur (fighters were paid). The 2007 World Amateur bronze medalist and 2008 Olympian put his punches together well, can work off the back foot, has a sneaky jab, and is good at forcing fighters to bend down to find him. Derevyanchenko is also clever about mixing up the speed of his punches. Sometimes he can look lumbering and then he explodes with sharp, quick shots. If he can draw Jacobs into range and make things physical, he can win.
The Pick: Jacobs is a fun fighter in part because he’s vulnerable. We saw him knocked out by Pirog, almost knocked out by Mora, and come off the floor to give Golovkin his toughest fight to then in 2017. He’s had to the sort of character building moments Derevyanchenko hasn’t yet under the brightest professional lights. Those lights shouldn’t overwhelm the Ukrainian. He’s been on plenty of big stages around the world and has to know this is the biggest opportunity he’s going to get. A loss at age 32, given the landscape of the division, would be a hard setback. Can he take a shot from Jacobs? If he can, Derevyanchenko has enough craft, power, and varied offense to pull off the upset. On a hunch, this corner is going with Derevyanchenko in a mild upset on Saturday night.
Additional Weekend Picks
Kubrat Pulev Dec. Hughie Fury
Alberto Machado TKO Yaundale Evans
WBSS: Ivan Baranchyk Dec. Anthony Ygit
WBSS: Regis Prograis TKO Terry Flanagan
Randy Petalcorin Dec. Felix Alvarado
Rold Picks 2018: 45-16
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]