There once was a time when few thought Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko would ever fight. They were teammates more than rivals, trained by the same people, and hey often sparred together to help each other prepare.
But with a vacant middleweight title up for grabs, Jacobs and Derevyanchenko put their friendship aside, split up trainers — Jacobs with lead trainer Andre Rozier, Derevyanchenko with assistant Gary Stark Sr. — and put it all on the line.
Other fights between friends and familiar sparring partners have unfortunately turned out to be more tactical rather than they were thrilling. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case on Saturday night in New York City. Jacobs and Derevyanchenko battled hard for 12 rounds, and in the end it was Jacobs with his arms raised, the winner by split decision.
Derevyanchenko kicked off the proceedings with aggression, pressing forward at the outset, and his eagerness perhaps led him to smack Jacobs with a right hand as they were breaking from a clinch a little later.
Jacobs turned to complain to the ref, but he also took things into his own hands. Toward the end of the round, he forced Derevyanchenko to the ropes. Jacobs jabbed, and when Derevyanchenko ducked for the right cross he thought would follow, Jacobs instead caught him with a right uppercut. They bodied each other for position, and when Jacobs had just enough space he unleashed a big, looping overhand right. Derevyanchenko’s gloves touched the canvas for an official knockdown.
Derevyanchenko wouldn’t get the knockdown back, though he did buzz Jacobs in the second round, landing a lead left hook, following with a jab and then catching Jacobs with a right hand to the ear.
Jacobs began to target Derevyanchenko’s body, hoping to take the steam out of the power-puncher’s shots and to test the stamina of a fighter who had only been past eight rounds twice before. Jacobs also tried to use Derevyanchenko’s aggression against him, landing crisp counters in the middle of their exchanges.
Derevyanchenko similarly decided to go to Jacobs’ body, particularly in the fifth round, landing four in the first minute. It was Jacobs who had the most notable moment in the sixth, landing a couple of shots that had Dereveyanchenko’s legs momentarily betraying him.
Each man was intent on denting his opponent’s chin. Neither was able to do so again, though not for lack of trying. Aware that the punch you don’t see is often the one that hurts you the most, Jacobs began sending out more uppercuts from both hands. Derevyanchenko shook his head following one such uppercut in the eighth round. It may not have hurt him badly, but the shot had enough on it to merit the response.
Jacobs then turned to boxing in the ninth, perhaps to buy himself a breather for the remaining rounds. Yet it was Derevyanchenko who came on stronger in Round 10. Jacobs had stopped going to the body well before, and Derevyanchenko now had the energy to go the 12-round distance and go hard for the remaining minutes.
It wasn’t enough to sway the judges. It was close, though.
One judge had it for Derevyanchenko, 114-113, or seven rounds to five — with an extra point deduced from Derevyanchenko because of the knockdown. The other two judges saw Jacobs the winner at 115-112, or seven rounds to five, and it was hard to argue with that conclusion. It was a competitive fight, one in which Jacobs looked to have done enough to win clearly.
Jacobs moved to 35-2 with 29 knockouts. His two defeats came against Dmitry Pirog back in 2010, and then in a close fight with Gennady Golovkin a year and a half ago. With this win, Jacobs picked up the vacant IBF world title, which had been stripped from Golovkin when he chose a rematch with Canelo Alvarez rather than take on his mandatory challenger, Derevyanchenko.
Jacobs would of course like to move on to Canelo Alvarez, who sits atop the division and is the cash cow at 160 pounds. Jacobs is aligned with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, which is also the lead promoter for the DAZN streaming network. DAZN recently signed a deal with Canelo (who is with Golden Boy Promotions). Don’t expect that fight to come next, though. There’s just too much money invested in Canelo for him to take on so dangerous an opponent so soon.
Instead, perhaps we could see Jacobs against the likes of David Lemieux, fellow titleholder Demetrius Andrade (who just picked up a belt vacated by Billy Joe Saunders), or Saunders himself. Alas, it’s highly doubtful that we’ll see Jacobs against Jermall Charlo. As always, affiliations with different networks and promoters will get in the way.
Derevyanchenko, meanwhile, is now 12-1 with 10 KOs. He put forth a good effort and fell short, but he still has plenty of room for improvement. While Derevyanchenko is 32 years old, he’s only been pro for a little more than four years.
This experience with Jacobs will do him some good. And when he returns to the gym to work on getting better, he can count on Jacobs to help him there as well.
Alberto Machado Ruins Yuandale Evans’ Comeback with First-Round TKO
The first time Yuandale Evans lost was ugly, and it took him a long time to bounce back from it. He was knocked out in one round six years ago. But Evans finally worked his way back into a big fight on HBO — only to be knocked out in one round once again.
The person knocking him out was 130-pound titleholder Alberto Machado, whose nickname of “El Explosivo” turned out to be appropriate. Machado knocked Evans down three times for the victory.
The first knockdown came about a minute in. Machado, a southpaw, sent out a right hook that distracted Evans from the left cross that followed. It didn’t get any better for Evans afterward. Machado soon caught him with a left hand, then a right hook, leaving Evans staggering backward to the ropes. Machado followed up with a flurry, Evans reeling until his gloves touched the canvas.
The end was in sight — it was a matter of when, not if. The “when” wouldn’t take very long. Machado struck with a left uppercut and a right hook. Evans went down once more.
Machado moved to 21-0 with 17 KOs. Barely a year before — 371 days, to be exact — he’d appeared on HBO and upset Jezreel Corrales with an eighth-round knockout, winning a world title in the process. Machado made his first defense a few months ago, shutting out undefeated Rafael Mensah. This was his second defense, and now the obvious question centers around who will be his third.
The other titleholders and top fighters are are Miguel Berchelt, Gervonta Davis, Tevin Farmer and Masayuki Ito. But Machado mentioned Francisco Vargas instead. While that may seem disappointing, a fight between Machado and Vargas would potentially be, well, explosive.
Vargas is a former titleholder who won, retained and lost his belt in back-to-back-to-back wars, coming off the canvas to stop Takashi Miura, barely surviving in a draw with Orlando Salido, and then getting stopped late by Miguel Berchelt. Vargas took a bit of time off, returning in late 2017 with a victory over Stephen Smith and then beating Rod Salka earlier this year. He’s now 25-1-2, and a fan-friendly title fight with Machado seems about right for both men’s next steps.
Evans, meanwhile, may want to reconsider whether boxing is the sport for him, or if he will be content competing at a lower level for lower paychecks.
He was once an undefeated prospect back when he fought an up-and-coming junior lightweight named Javier Fortuna in 2012. He didn’t remain undefeated for long. Fortuna dropped Evans twice in two minutes for the technical knockout.
Evans left the sport for three years, came back briefly in 2015 for a couple of fights against gimme opponents, then didn’t return again until 2017. But Evans put together a couple of good wins over prospects Billel Dib and Luis Rosa, and that earned him this fight with Machado.
Neither of his losses ended well. Neither went long. In a way, that is good — he hasn’t taken the kind of extended beatings that can leave lasting damage. These defeats can’t be that good for his health either, though.
“Machado was just too big for me and too heavy,” Evans, who is now 20-2 with 14 KO, wrote on Instagram on Sunday morning, vowing to return to featherweight instead. “We sticking to 126, not jumping weight no more!”