Fights like tonight's showdown with Daniel Jacobs have eluded the 32-year-old Sergiy Derevyanchenko. A decorated amateur who had more than 400 fights, he's had trouble finding work as a professional.
Even Gennady Golovkin wasn't interested in taking a fight with him when the first date for the Canelo Alvarez rematch had to be scrapped because of the Mexican's positive drug test. Derevyanchenko was the IBF's mandatory challenger, but Golovkin didn't pursue a bout so he could wait for Alvarez to be reinstated.
The organization backed a challenge from Derevyanchenko's management, forcing the title off Golovkin and giving the Ukrainian a chance to win it in his first title shot.
"This guy's had a rough road as a pro. Almost impossible to get him fights," promoter Lou DiBella said. "We had to pull a lot of political machinations and legal machinations and all sorts of stuff to get him to this position, and I'm thrilled that we were able to.
"He had to sit and wait out his opportunity as the No. 1 mandatory. He couldn't make himself unavailable so he had to be relatively inactive and then all of a sudden Danny Jacobs was the next guy in the rankings, and all of a sudden there's a huge fight for Sergiy, the fight he's been waiting his whole life for."
It comes at the end of a card that also includes Puerto Rico's Alberto Machado defending a 130-pound title against Yuandale Evans, and a rematch of Heather Hardy's 2016 victory over Shelly Vincent.
Derevyanchenko predicted the main event would be a "big war." Jacobs, a survivor of a rare form of bone cancer, is ready for it.
"I fight with glory, I fight with guts, I fight with skill," Jacobs said.