SAN DIEGO, Calif., October 26, 2018 – The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden hosts one of the final fight cards on HBO Boxing on Saturday in New York City. It features fights among combatants who go back a long way with each other with very different relationships.
Middleweights Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) and Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) are two Brooklyn based power punchers who work with the same training team of Andre Rozier and Gary Stark, Sr. They have watched each other at work and have been sparring partners for more than 300 rounds. Both men knew the day might come when they would have to face each other with their records at stake. That day has arrived.
Jacobs said fight night will be bittersweet. ”We all knew each other for a very very long time, so it’s almost like family. But this is why we do it. For the love of the sport, for you guys and your entertainment. You’ve not going to want to miss this fight, it’s going to be a stellar fight.”
“”I know him, he knows me. I know his tactics and what he does great and what he doesn’t do great. But this is business and this is boxing,”said Derevyachenko, who thanked Jacobs for giving him the opportunity.
Make or break opportunity
Jacobs, a Brooklyn native, followed Rozier to the San Francisco Bay Area to train. The 32-year-old’s story as a cancer survivor never expected to return to the ring or even survive is well known. As Jacobs says often, he was given a second chance in life and every day is a blessing to him.
Derevyanchenko, age 31, originally from Ukraine, followed Stark Sr. to Colorado Springs to train at altitude and build his stamina. A rising star of the division, he was the IBF mandatory challenger for Gennady Golovkin, and was named a possible opponent when the original May date for the rematch with Canelo Alvarez fell through. Derevyanchenko and Jacobs will now have the opportunity to win the IBF World Middleweight Title once held by Jacobs and lost to Golovkin last year.
Jacobs, is coming off a unanimous decision win in April over Maciej Sulecki of Poland, a durable but overmatched challenger coming up a division from junior middleweight for the first time. Derevyanchenko is far more formidable despite having only 12 professional fights.
“This is not going to be a track meet, this is going to be a fight!” said Derevyanchenko’s promoter, Lou DiBella.
“I want to say, it will be a big war. It’s going to be a big war and the belt is going to go to me,” said the Ukrainian.
Jacobs said it doesn’t matter to him that someone he knows and respects will be across the ring on Saturday. “No one’s going to get in the way of reaching my goals … I don’t believe in sharing belts.”
Jacobs’ trainer Rozier admits to being uncomfortable. “It’s definitely awkward, everything is awkward when it comes to this one. These are both my guys. Even to this moment, if I talk to Sergey I tell him, ‘You know I don’t like this.’”
Jacobs the favorite, but don’t count out Sergiy
One winner and one loser will be returning to the gym. Jacobs must be considered the favorite due to his far superior resume. Jacobs also possesses a mental fortitude few other boxers can claim, having battled a far bigger opponent called cancer and come out with a win. Jacobs has not delivered a dominant performance in his last few bouts. You could argue his loss to Golovkin was far better than his wins over Sulecki and Luis Arias.
Jacobs is the man with the most to lose. If he notches a third loss, his opportunities to fight at the top level of the competitive middleweight division start closing off. He risks becoming a gatekeeper fighting his way back.
Derevyanchenko’s toughest opponent to date has been Tureano Johnson. Jacobs is a significant step up in skill. Derevyanchenko is under less pressure. He risks an undefeated record, but he can still recover from a single loss, particularly if he has an exciting performance. Derevyanchenko has promised he’ll be the aggressor. Can he force Jacobs to dance with him? This is the key to the bout and gives him the best chance to win.
If Jacobs can move, employ a hard jab, and catch Derevyanchenko with a well placed power shot here and there, Jacobs can take his stablemate to the final bell and win on the cards. Jacobs is a smart fighter with more tools and outstanding endurance. With Rozier’s help in the corner, he needs to stay disciplined and focused.
It may not be the barnburner everyone expects, but if the performance wins Jacobs the opportunity to face Canelo Alvarez in 2019, he will have done his job and done it well on Saturday.
No love lost: Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent promise rematch fireworks
Don’t despair if the main event doesn’t deliver the fireworks you crave. The opening fight on the HBO broadcast should deliver all the action you could possibly want between two bitter rivals.
Heather “Heat” Hardy of Brooklyn (21-0, 4 KOs) and Shelly Vincent of Providence, Rhode Island (23-1, 1 KO) fight a rematch of their 2016 Fight of the Year with the vacation world featherweight title up for grabs. Vincent’s single loss was to Hardy in their first fight, a wild slugfest viewed by a huge audience on NBC following the Winter Olympics who were thrilled by the action between the two women.
“”We don’t refer to ourselves as female boxers, we’re just boxers,” says Hardy. But she admits it’s been a fight outside the ring to get the recognition for the female athletes I the sport. “All the girls who have a microphone have to shout ‘hey, we’re here!’ There are girl boxers too.”
Hardy, age 36, took matters into her own hands by contacting Peter Nelson personally, HBO’s vice president for sports, and asking him to put her rematch with Vincent onto the televised part of the card. “You know this is going to be a big fight or you wouldn’t have put us on the poster, put us on the show, let us make some money” by selling sponsors on the exposure. Hardy was persuasive enough to make it happen.
“I beat her already once … I have no fear, I’ll get in the cage, I’ll get in the ring, I’ll fight anybody if the money’s right,” says Hardy.
Vincent, 39, says the bad blood started between her and Hardy in the lead up to the first fight. Vincent would like nothing better than to get revenge for her single loss. “I can’t wait to punch her in the face … We’re definitely going to go in there and try to rip each other’s head off.”
“The fans want to see us hit each other for them,” said Hardy. ““I don’t know if this fight will be anything less or anything more. We’re gonna do it again.”
“It’s guaranteed fireworks,” agreed Vincent.
Neither woman is a knockout artist, and with two minute rounds it can be tough to finish off an opponent. This will be a war of attrition. Count on a Salido vs. Vargas, Rios vs. Alvarado showdown. You will forget you are watching women – you’ll simply be enjoying two fighters having at it.
Featherweight title fight: Alberto Machado vs. Yuandale Evans
The second bout of the HBO show features super featherweights Alberto Machado (20-0, 16 KOs) of Puerto Rico against Yuandale Evans of Cleveland (20-1, 14 KOs). Machado’s WBA World Super Featherweight title is on the line. Machado won the title from Jezreel Corrales one year ago with a surprising knockout victory. It was a fight the underdog appeared to be losing. Machado went the distance in his only fight since then against Rafael Mensah of Ghana.
Machado may have his hands full with Evans. The 29 year old’s only loss came in a first round knockout by Javier Fortuna in 2012. The loss was due to a single mistake rather than a poor performance, the kind of mistake a fighter pays for. Evans hasn’t been too active but he hasn’t lost again. Evans has fast hands and he will bring the fight to Machado. Still, a title gives the champion a mental edge and motivation, and a head start with the judges. Machado will also have the edge as a Puerto Rican fighter in New York, virtually a home field advantage. Evans will need to win and win big to get the belt from Machado, but it’s not at all impossible.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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