By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Lou DiBella prefaced his complimentary comparison with a sensible disclaimer.
Sergiy Derevyanchenko’s promoter is as aware as anyone that his fighter hasn’t accomplished nearly as much as a professional prizefighter as Gennady Golovkin. DiBella is still convinced Derevyanchenko will give Daniel Jacobs every bit as tough a fight as Golovkin did in March 2017 when they meet for the vacant IBF middleweight title Saturday night.
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin knocked down Jacobs in the fourth round of their middleweight title fight. Jacobs recovered and gave Golovkin what to that point was his toughest professional fight.
DiBella believes Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) also will beat Brooklyn’s Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) in a fight that’ll resemble Golovkin-Jacobs in terms of competitiveness. Golovkin defeated Jacobs by unanimous decision, but narrowly won their 12-rounder on all three scorecards (115-112, 115-112, 114-113).
“I think this is right there with the Golovkin fight in degree of difficulty,” DiBella told BoxingScene.com before a press conference Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. “Obviously, Golovkin has done it at the highest levels and the resume is more extensive, professionally, than Sergiy’s. But in terms of quality of opposition, I think this is right there with Golovkin, right there with Peter Quillin. Quillin turned out not to be a very difficult fight for him. But going in, the perception was [that it would be].
“Look, Sergiy was 390-20 as an amateur, fighting the best guys in world. Literally, his amateur credentials are among the greatest in the history of amateur boxing. That’s not an exaggeration. And he was fighting guys the caliber of Triple-G in the amateurs. He was one of the best fighters in the World Series of Boxing. And that is sort of a halfway point between pro and amateur.”
The 32-year-old Derevyanchenko had hoped to prove his prowess versus Golovkin himself, but Golovkin declined to make a mandatory IBF title defense against the unbeaten Ukrainian on May 5. Golovkin instead knocked out inactive junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan in the second round that night at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
The IBF stripped Golovkin of its middleweight title a month later for failing to adhere to the stipulations of the exception it granted Golovkin to make that voluntary defense against Martirosyan. The IBF then ordered the top-ranked Derevyanchenko and the third-ranked Jacobs to fight for its unclaimed 160-pound championship.
“Look, everyone knows how hard of an opponent this guy is,” DiBella said of Derevyanchenko. “Tom Loeffler and Gennady made a very intelligent decision when they had that gazillion-dollar fight sitting there with Canelo. They weren’t gonna fight Derevyanchenko. It wasn’t a matter of timing. It was a matter of risk and degree of difficulty, with a huge payday ahead of you. Sergiy has been, for a long time, high-risk, low-reward for the biggest names in the division. He’s sitting here and he’s starving, literally. He needs to win this fight to change his life, to get to where Danny already is. Hunger is a tremendously powerful motivator.”
HBO will broadcast Jacobs-Derevyanchenko as the main event of a “World Championship Boxing” tripleheader from The Theater at Madison Square Garden (10 p.m. ET/PT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.