Photos: Ed Mulholland
By Kieran Mulvaney
NEW YORK -- Daniel Jacobs knew it wouldn’t be easy.
“Sergey Derevyanchenko is a true competitor,” he said after he battled his way to a hard-fought split decision win over twelve hard-fought rounds. “I knew it would be hard and I had to dig deep. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into.”
What he got into was a bruising, draining encounter with former training partner Derevyanchenko, who recovered from a first round knockdown to pressure Jacobs constantly, ensuring the American could not relax for even a minute and pushing him all the way in a contest that displayed the defensive acumen of both men as well as their explosiveness.
It briefly seemed as if they would act out a different script as Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs) backed Derevyanchenko to the ropes in the first round, unleashed a pair of right hands to the body and then landed a huge right to the top of the head that caused the Ukrainian to tumble forward and touch his gloves to the canvas. Derevyanchenko beat the count, and Jacobs sought to press the advantage, but with just 10 seconds remaining in the round the moment had passed.
Indeed, it was Derevyanchenko (12-1, 10 KOs) who came out for the second round showing the greater purpose, closing the gap on the taller New Yorker and firing fast combinations in close. Jacobs, showing poise and skill, slipped and parried much of the Ukrainian’s assault, as he did in the third; but Derevyanchenko was warming to his task now and by the fourth was flying at Jacobs with relentless abandon. Jacobs, though, remained calm, and it was he who landed the biggest shot of that fourth round in the form of a big right hand that made his opponent’s legs do an involuntary dance.
This now was the pattern of the fight: Derevyanchenko pressing, advancing; Jacobs slipping, blocking, watching, and landing fierce blows as his foe came forward. This was boxing of the highest level, exemplified by a sixth round in which each man launched bombs at each other even as they both slipped under the artillery that came their way. The seventh and eighth saw both men digging in deep and fighting in the trenches, throwing and receiving hard, punishing blows; but by the ninth, Jacobs seemed to be settling into a comfort zone as he smothered the Ukrainian’s attacks and kept him at range.
Derevyanchenko was not finished yet, however, eking out the tenth courtesy of a left-right combination that landed cleanly. Back came Jacobs in the eleventh, blasting his opponent with massive right hands. And both men emptied their gas tanks in a furious twelfth that an exhausted Derevyanchenko shaded from an equally gassed Jacobs.
Judge Julie Lederman saw Derevyanchenko as the winner, by the slimmest of 114-113 margins, but was overruled by Tom Schreck and Steve Weisfeld, who scored the bout 115-112 for Jacobs.
“He’s a strong competitor,” said Jacobs. “He’s as tough as it gets. He worked the body tremendously, but I showed true grit. He is as tough as it comes. He is one of the most skilled competitors I’ve ever been in the ring with, and that includes Gennady Golovkin. But now we absolutely want to fight Canelo. That’s what the fans want. Let’s make that fight happen.”
In super featherweight action, Miguel Cotto protégé Alberto “El Explosivo” Machado lived up to his nickname by dropping Yuandale Evans three times and finishing him in the very first round of a scheduled 12-rounder. Evans (20-2, 14 KOs), whose only previous defeat was also a first-round knockout, started brightly as he worked behind fast combinations, but about halfway through the frame, Machado calmly threw out a southpaw jab and followed it up with a straight left that sent Evans onto his trunks.
Evens beat the count and willingly re-entered the fray, but a Machado hook stiffened him and sent him staggering backward. Machado (21-0, 17 KOs) plowed forward and unleashed a torrent of punches with Evans against the ropes, sending him tumbling forward and casing his gloves to touch the canvas for a second knockdown.
The fight could easily have been stopped then, but referee Ricky Gonzalez allowed it to continue. It did not do so for long, another Machado right hook detonating on Evans’ jaw, sending him crashing on to his back and prompting Martinez to wave a halt to proceedings. Official time was 2:25.
In the opener, Heather Hardy repeated her 2016 win over Shelly Vincent; but, unlike their first encounter, which went her way by majority decision after a close contest, the verdict was this time unanimous. It was also relatively comfortable – if that word can rightly be applied to a tough 10 rounds in which Hardy had to repel the constant onrushing advances of Vincent (23-2, 1 KO) and picked up a nasty gash over her left eye, courtesy of an accidental head butt, in the process. But Hardy (22-0, 4 KOs) simply had too much skill for the determined but limited Vincent, taking advantage of superior footwork, punch variety, and boxing fundamentals to strafe Vincent as her opponent charged forward. Hers were the cleaner, sharper punches throughout, and the 97-93 verdicts of Glenn Feldman and Kevin Morgan were accurate representations of the action, although Alan Rubenstein’s 99-91 card might have been closer to the mark. Even so, Vincent never stopped coming, and Hardy would have ended the evening feeling the effects of a tough fight.