By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Potential fights against Gennady Golovkin, Jermall Charlo and Billy Joe Saunders were discussed with more optimism in the aftermath of Daniel Jacobs’ win over Maciej Sulecki.
But there’s another challenging fight for Jacobs, however awkward it might seem, that could become an attractive option for the former WBA middleweight champion. If Gennady Golovkin gives up his IBF middleweight title or is stripped by that sanctioning organization, Jacobs could be offered a fight against Sergiy Derevyanchenko, who works with Andre Rozier, the same man that trains Jacobs.
Ukraine’s Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) is the mandatory challenger for Golovkin’s IBF 160-pound championship. He wanted to replace Canelo Alvarez as Golovkin’s opponent Saturday night, but Golovkin picked junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) for a 12-round, 160-pound title bout HBO will televise from StubHub Center in Carson, California.
The IBF issued a letter to everyone involved late last week that it had granted Golovkin an exception to fight Martirosyan, but that it wouldn’t sanction the Martirosyan match as a title bout because Martirosyan is moving up in weight, hasn’t fought in nearly two years and lost his last fight – a 12-round unanimous decision to Erislandy Lara in their rematch. If a deal isn’t struck for the mandated match between Golovkin and Derevyanchenko to take place within 90 days of May 5, Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) would be stripped.
Derevyanchenko isn’t likely to become Golovkin’s next opponent because if the heavily favored Golovkin beats Martirosyan, the unbeaten champion is expected to face the suspended Canelo Alvarez in a lucrative rematch rescheduled for September 15.
Jacobs, meanwhile, is the IBF’s No. 3-ranked contender for Golovkin’s title. The No. 2 position in the IBF’s 160-pound rankings is unoccupied, thus Jacobs would be the first contender offered a fight against Derevyanchenko if Golovkin gives up the IBF title or is stripped.
Houston’s Jermall Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) is ranked No. 4 by the IBF. If Golovkin is stripped or vacates that title, Charlo would be the next contender offered a fight against Derevyanchenko if Jacobs turned it down.
Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) also became the mandatory challenger for Golovkin’s WBA championship by topping Poland’s Sulecki (26-1, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The prospect of winning a middleweight title and gaining leverage in his pursuit of a rematch against Golovkin could make Jacobs embrace a fight with Derevyanchenko. Brooklyn’s Jacobs considers Derevyanchenko “family,” though, and has sparred with him many times.
“I have no idea,” Jacobs said regarding boxing Derevyanchenko. “I’ll leave that up to my team. Obviously, we want the big names. With all due respect to Derevyanchenko, we wanna have those opportunities. He’s like family. He’s a part of our stable. So it would definitely take a lot [to make it happen]. But at the end of the day, we have bigger names, the green belts and just, ultimately, the big names. That’s really, truly what we want, and obviously me and Charlo have got a little thing going on. So that’s something that I’m trying to pursue as well. But if the opportunity presents itself [to fight Derevyanchenko], and it’s the only opportunity, you know, I would have to think long and hard about that.”
Rozier doesn’t want two boxers he trains to fight each other. If Jacobs-Derevyanchenko does happen, however, Rozier would train Jacobs for that bout because he has worked with Jacobs since he was a young amateur and treats the 31-year-old contender like a son.
Derevyanchenko likely would be trained by Gary Stark Sr. for that fight. Stark is Derevyanchenko’s co-trainer, along with Rozier.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.