Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko share both a manager and a trainer, and sparred one another for at least 300 rounds.
On Saturday at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, they fought for real, and it was a very close, classic thriller.
A first-round knockdown scored by Jacobs proved to be the difference, as he won a split decision to win the vacant IBF middleweight title. Julie Lederman scored it 114-113 for Derevyanchenko, but Tom Schreck and Steve Weisfeld had it 115-112 for Jacobs. FightNights.com scored the fight 114-113 for Jacobs.
“Sergiy is as tough as they come and he is one of the most skillful fighters I have stepped into the ring with, including Triple-G [former champion Gennady Golovkin],” Jacobs said. “Triple-G avoided him for a reason. This guy is definitely tough. He didn’t have much to offer, so they didn’t take the fight, but he is as tough as it gets. I accepted this fight because I wanted the strap.”
Jacobs (35-2, 29 KO's), 31, of Brooklyn, a four-time New York Golden Gloves champion, boxed beautifully, and landed the harder punches throughout. And as Compubox exemplified, he was also the more accurate puncher.
Jacobs connected on 181 of 578 punches (31.3 percent). However, the previously unbeaten Derevyanchenko (12-1, 10 KO's), 32, a Ukraine native based in Brooklyn, did not make it easy for Jacobs, landing 160 of 658 (24.3 percent).
Derevyanchenko wobbled Jacobs in the second round with a left hook and a straight right hand, but Jacobs got on his bicycle and retreated to the ropes, where he used his superior head movement to avoid further punishment, and countered Derevyanchenko to the body. Jacobs' ring generalship and IQ was a huge factor in the victory.
With the win, Jacobs is in prime position to land a fight with unified middleweight world titleholder Canelo Alvarez, who won the WBC, WBA, and vacant The Ring and lineal titles with a majority decision victory over Golovkin in September. Alvarez is moving up to super-middleweight on Dec. 15 to take on former titlist Rocky Fielding, but it is more of a "stay busy" fight if anything. But a match with Jacobs is certainly not in that category.
“We absolutely want Canelo,” Jacobs said. “I think that’s a fight that the fans want, especially those who have been agreeing with me when I said I felt like I beat Triple-G. It’s going to be a great fight for the fans.”