By Keith Idec
Sergiy Derevyanchenko won 390 of over 400 amateur fights in an extensive career that included a trip to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
The undefeated Ukrainian also fought without headgear in the World Series of Boxing before he making what is officially considered his pro debut in July 2014.
Daniel Jacobs knows better than any boxer that his stablemate can fight, but he still feels as though his experience as a professional prizefighter is one of his advantages over Derevyanchenko entering their 12-round, 160-pound middleweight title fight Saturday night in New York.
Derevyanchenko, 32, has just 12 official professional fights on his record. Jacobs, 31, clearly is the most accomplished opponent he’ll have fought.
“You don’t know until you know, you know?,” Jacobs said during a conference call Monday. “If you have 12 fights as a professional, even though you have 400 amateur fights and you have some fights in, I don’t know, that world champions of boxing – I don’t know anything about that – but I don’t really consider that to be a pro fight, even though the headgears are off. Once you put on 10-ounce gloves and you actually go in there and compete with the best, you know, all of these dangers that you have inside the ring, that’s when you’ll truly know.
“But I feel like I have the advantages of the mental aspect of the experience, of knowing I can go a full 12, solid rounds with the best of them, and compete at an all-time high level. I mean, I know that. I have it in my bank. I have it the gas tank already. And the guy that’s inexperienced, with only 12 fights, you know, I would presume it would be a second-guess on his behalf. So only time will tell, but for me, I’m just 100-percent physically and mentally ready.”
Brooklyn’s Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) and Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) have sparred more than 300 rounds against one another since Derevyanchenko moved to Brooklyn four years ago. They’re trained by the same man, Andre Rozier, who will work Jacobs’ corner for their IBF middleweight championship match in The Theater at Madison Square Garden (HBO; 10 p.m. ET/PT).
Gary Stark Sr. will work Derevyanchenko’s corner. Stark has trained Derevyanchenko along with Rozier and has worked Jacobs’ corner, which makes for an unusual situation come fight night.
Jacobs contends it won’t be as awkward as some might expect.
“I feel like I’m the strongest middleweight that he has stepped in the ring professionally with,” Jacobs said. “The height, the reach are some key things. Especially when I set my mind to being a boxer, I can do that very well. But also, if I wanna come forward and be a counter-puncher and even just wanna outright brawl, I do believe that I have the power to back it up. So there’s a lot of dangers inside this fight when it comes to, you know, both us. But for me, I truly feel like I have the best advantages.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.