After 12 rounds of boxing opposite Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs had built a genuine argument that at that moment in time, he was the number one Middleweight in the world. Though he’d been floored in the 4th, Jacobs’ comeback had been valiant and with skill and courage, he’d become the first man to take GGG the distance since 2008. In the minds of some onlookers, he’d even done enough to take the decision but the judges unanimously disagreed, somewhat controversially rewarding Golovkin with the win.
Regardless of opinions, it had been an undeniably competitive affair and on that night, Jacobs could quite easily have left the ring as a victor. Unfortunately though, that hadn't been the case and without any titles around his waist, Jacobs simply had to move on. He’d eventually do just that too, getting back in the ring 8 months later, with a new promotional team on his side. The first key player in Eddie Hearn’s US expansion, Jacobs would stay in the main event spot, widely outpointing Luis Arias in a swift return to the win column.
It had been a solid outing from ‘The Miracle Man’ but in the grand scheme of things, his position at 160lbs remained the same. Jacobs was quite obviously still among the elite and his intentions of regaining Middleweight gold hadn’t changed. However, while the Arias win had been comfortable, it did present some risks on paper. Arias entered as an unheralded but undefeated contender and as far as Jacobs’ foes go, he’d be far from the last of that kind. In fact, the former champion would continue down that very path, next taking on 26-0 Maciej Sulecki.
Things would prove tougher this time around, with Sulecki experiencing some genuine success before Jacobs took control and in champion fashion, scored a late knockdown to put the final touches on a points win. With that victory secured, Jacobs’ contender qualifications couldn't be questioned and now six months later, he gets his shot. This Saturday night in New York City, Jacobs will take on yet another undefeated contender as with the vacant IBF crown on the line, he clashes with Sergiy Derevyanchenko.
At 12-0, the once decorated amateur talent has quietly climbed the ranks, ascending in the background of Middleweight’s Golovkin - ’Canelo’ chaos. That whole situation had ‘The Technician’ briefly frozen out of things but with the belt vacated, he now gets his opportunity regardless. While this is quite obviously Derevyanchenko’s biggest night yet though, for Jacobs it’s just a return to the spot he once called home. Standing opposite a hungry opponent with world title honors on the line, this is a familiar position for Jacobs and frankly, one he’s been desperate to return to.
Even with that being the case though, there’s always a certain unpredictability that comes with an undefeated record. Right or wrong, there’s often an extra element of intrigue surrounding a fighter without loss, an unknown as to their ceiling which almost lingers over all the logic surrounding each individual matchup. As a professional, Derevyanchenko is without experience or quality wins but that ‘0’ on his record does matter going in, the question is whether or not it’ll impact things once the bell rings.
With all that being said though, there’s also an undeniable confidence that comes with a fighter like Jacobs. Whether it be his famed backstory, his immense in-ring history or just his proud and composed temperament in general, Jacobs feels like a champion regardless of the belts, or lack thereof, that currently rest on his shoulder. Whether he’s recognized as a titleholder or not, Daniel Jacobs is just a champion to his core and in conflict, that’s shown fiercely under the bright lights before.
However, while that thought is nice in itself, this fight is about regaining that status with a win inside the ropes and as another undefeated foe stands in his way, Daniel Jacobs will look to do just that this Saturday night in NYC.