Pair of stablemates and former sparring partners know each other well heading into Saturday night's IBF 160-pound title fight, but Jacobs says his championship experience will be the key difference.
Former middleweight world titleholder Daniel Jacobs aims to win “an exciting war” against Russian-born Ukrainian stablemate Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the IBF’s vacant 160-pound crown this Saturday night at New York’s Madison Square Garden—before targeting current and past titleholders Jermall Charlo, Billy Joe Saunders, Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Rob Brant, in order, according to his corner man, Andre Rozier.
The 31-year-old Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) is seeking his third-straight victory, while the 32-year-old Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) looks for his seventh-consecutive stoppage. The two men have sparred “damn near over 300 rounds” and share Rozier as their head coach and assistant Gary Stark Sr.—who will be in Dereyanchenko’s corner.
“It’s really no different from me seeing Gary on the opposite side of the ring telling Sergey how to get the best of me when we’re sparring. None of that matters with the stakes being so high…I want to be undisputed champion, and no one is going to get in the way of me accomplishing my goals,” said Jacobs, who stands nearly 6-feet to Derevyanchenko’s 5-foot-9.
“I don’t feel that he’ll be a tougher fight than Golovkin. The only threat he might pose is throwing more punches than GGG, but I can adapt to that with my movement and offensive skills. As far as future fights, I don’t wanna think of anything past Saturday night and keeping my focus on beating Sergey. But if I am victorious, then I want to fight whoever the people want me to fight. I am the ‘People’s Champ.’”
But Rozier said Jacobs’ zeal to battle the 28-year-old Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) stems from a face-to-face confrontation in March between the fighters in the bowels of Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, while attending heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s stoppage victory over Luis Oriz.
“Jermall Charlo was talking (to reporters) about fighting Danny in the hallways of Barclays Center when Danny walked up on Charlo and directly addressed him,” Rozier said.
“Charlo then seemed to go from being very adamant to losing steam and energy, so Danny’s saying he still wants to fight him and they can get it on after he beats Sergey. Forgetting all of the politics involved, going 1-through-5, Danny’s list of future fights is Jermall Charlo, Billy Joe Saunders, Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Rob Brant.”
Jacobs is also in line to face the 28-year-old Alvarez (50-1-1, 34 KOs), who will pursue a third crown in as many divisions on December 15 against 168-pound Rocky Fielding after dethroning Golovkin by majority decision in a September rematch of their draw in September 2017.
After Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs), a southpaw, was stripped of his WBO’s crown for a banned substance, left-handed former 154-pound champion Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade (26-0, 16 KOs) earned the vacated crown last Saturday with a four-knockdown unanimous decision winover Walter Kautondokwo (17-1, 16 KOs), who replaced Saunders on 10 days’ notice.
Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) became the WBA’s regular titlist by dethroning 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata (14-2, 11 KOs) of Japan by unanimous decision.
Derevyanchenko sparred Jacobs for more than 40 rounds in advance of a fifth-round TKO of previously unbeaten Kemahl Russell (March 2017), simultaneously preparing Jacobs for a unanimous decision title unification loss to then-unbeaten Gennady Golovkin in March 2017.
The switch-hitting Jacobs won unanimous decisions in November and April against previously unbeatens Luis Arias and Maciej Sulecki, calling his workouts with Derevyanchenko “extremely beneficial” for Golovkin, in a bout that ended “GGG’s” 23-fight, nine-year stoppage streak.
“Me and Sergey have damn near over 300 rounds together in sparring. He knows me, I know him, but it’s not going to be a sparring match…I feel like I’m the strongest middleweight that he’ll step into the ring with as a professional,” said Jacobs, having a 73-inch reach compared to Dereyanchenko’s of 67 ½.
“The height and reach are some key things, especially when I set my mind to being a boxer. But, also, if I want to come forward as a counterpuncher or outright brawl, I do believe I have the power to back it up. There’s a lot of danger for both of us, but I truly believe I have the best advantages. I think he’s going to bring the best out of me.”
“ I can go 12 hard rounds with the best of them against a guy who only has 12 fights. I’m putting it all on the line. It’ll be a heckuva fight for as long as it lasts. ” Former Middleweight Champion Daniel Jacobs
Derevyanchenko’s win over Russell followed his three-knockdown, second-round TKO in July 2016 of former world champion Sam Soliman, a boxer he remains the only man to have stopped. “The Technician” has earned consecutive 12th- and sixth-round stoppages of Taureano Johnson and Dashon Johnson in August 2017 and March.
During his narrow loss to Golovkin, Jacobs kept his rival off balance by switching between southpaw and orthodox stances, opening the eyes of many in the boxing world to just how skillful “The Miracle Man” is.
“When Danny’s consistent like he was at times against Golovkin, he caused serious problems. But Sergey’s a much better technician than Golovkin, and these guys have sparred more than 300 rounds,” Rozier said.
“Danny’s transitioning back-and-forth more fluidly as a switch-hitter than Sergey is used to noticing, becoming more adept as a southpaw, a better, more consistent boxer controlling the action with his jab. I believe it’ll be a tactical fight predominantly with violence mixed into it.”
A native of Feodosia, Crimea, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, Dereyancheko went 390-20 as an amateur, won the gold medal at the European Cadet Championships in 2001 and 2002, and earned the bronze at the 2007 World Amateur Boxing Championships.
Derevyanchenko represented Ukraine at the 2008 Olympics and went 23-1 in the World Series of Boxing, a professional-style competition allowing fighters to maintain amateur eligibility.
“I’m ready and I’ve trained to go the distance if it has to,” Derevyanchenko said. “But, of course, I would love to try to end the fight sooner, with an exclamation point like I always do for the excitement and to give the fans what they want.”
Jacobs was 20-0 with 17 KOs when his grandmother succumbed to cancer a week before his fifth-round TKO loss to Dmitry Pirog for a vacant 160-pound title in July 2010. Just 10 months later, Jacobs was diagnosed with, and survived osteosarcoma, a life-threatening form of bone cancer.
Jacobs—who was told he might never walk again, let alone box—returned to the ring 19 months later and knocked out Josh Luteran in the very first round on October 20, 2012. The KO was one of 12 consecutive knockout victories he scored since losing to Pirog. That run included a title-winning, fifth-round TKO of Jarod Fletcher in August 2014, a first-round KO over former titlist Peter Quillin (December 2015) and 12th-round finish of Caleb Truax (April 2015), and a pair of stoppage wins of Sergio Mora in August 2015 and September 2016.
“I was never supposed to have as second chance. I’m in a mental place where I’m going to be ready for any and everything,” Jacobs said. “I have it in the gas tank more experience in knowing I can go 12 hard rounds with the best of them against a guy who only has 12 fights. I’m putting it all on the line. It’ll be a heckuva fight for as long as it lasts.”