By Tom Donelson
Author, Member Boxing Writers Association of America, Tom has been with “dmboxing.com” with his expertise since 2008 through the recommendation by our mutual friend Ring Sports Magazine Editor Rusty Rubin (R.I.P.) … Rusty was the first contributor to this website upon its beginning in July 2007 with his award winning column “In Rusty’s Corner”.
Danny Jacobs edged past former sparring mate and undefeated Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the IBF Middleweight title. He won by a split decision as two judges had him winning 115-112 while Julie Lederman had Derevyanchenko winning 114-113, disagreeing with her father who had Jacobs winning by a wider margin than the judges. I had 116-111.
Both fighters knew each other after sparring over 300 rounds and while Derevyanchenko came in with a 12-0 record but he also had 20 plus fights in the World Series of Boxing that did not count in his professional record. Derevyanchenko was noted for the being an aggressive fighter but over the first half of the fight, Derevyanchenko showed restraint in his attack and with good reason. Throughout the bout, Jacobs launched vicious body shots and it didn’t help Derevyanchenko that he went down from a flash knockdown on a Jacobs’clubbing right hand near the end of the first round. Derevyanchenko did manage a combination in the second round that shook Jacobs up but from that point on, Jacobs showed overall better skills and ring generalship as he moved and gave himself angles to hit Derevyanchenko. Derevyanchenko fought a competitive fight and many pundits had the fight closer than I did. Each round was competitive including the first round, until Derevyanchenko hit the canvas at the end of round one.
Danny Jacobs escaped from being trapped on the rope while keeping much of the bout in the center of the ring. Derevyanchenko did not match Jacobs hand speed and nor did he cut off the ring as well as he could but then Jacobs mobility has much to do with that.
There were moments that Derevyanchenko got the better including a solid left, right hand combination in the tenth round and he took the final round but it was too little too late, at least on my card. Even though Harold Lederman had this fight in favor of Jacobs, other of the HBO team including Roy Jones and Max Kellerman warned the audience that while Harold had it easily in Jacobs favor, the judges would have it closer. They did. In fact, Harold’s own daughter disagreed with her father and had Derevyanchenko winning the fight. Now Jacobs wants Alvarez to unify the title.
HBO is now leaving the fight game and by the end of the year, there will be no HBO covering boxing. For years, Showtime has surpassed HBO and other just as ESPN and Fox Sports covered the sport. HBO was the king of boxing coverage for over four decades and if there was a big fight, HBO had it. Over 1100 fights were seen on HBO since 1973 but over the past few years, Top Rank and Premier boxing took their business elsewhere and many of the bigger stars moved to Showtime, leaving HBO with very few big fights. Over the years some of the greatest performed on HBO including Lennox Lewis, Roy Jones, Oscar De La Hoya, Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns. The last big stars left on HBO was Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, who will now be free agents.
For me, a decisive shift from HBO to Showtime was the Showtime Super Middleweight tournament and over a period of three years, Showtime had some of the best fighters in the 168 pound fighting each other and it was here that Andre Ward became a star as he won the tournament and became the king of the division. HBO is no longer part of boxing but boxing may benefit from this as there are other who are willing to broadcast more matches. My own bias is that covering Showtime boxing was more fun and their announcers were more accessible. I remember covering a SHOBOX and I had the chance to interview the late Nick Charles and Steve Farhood, and found them both not just knowledgeable about the sport but down to earth. I will miss Harold Lederman who often explained the nuance of scoring and hope he lands somewhere. Jim Lampley is staying with HBO, so his career as play by play announcer is over but Max Kellerman may end up back at ESPN. Boxing will survive and with Showtime, they have a network that will promote the sport that HBO failed.