Opening Bell: Jacobs' future
Let's get one thing clear right off the bat: Unified middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez, he of the record-breaking five-year, 11-fight, $365 million contract with new sports streaming service DAZN, is the one who is going to call the shots in the division until further notice.
He's boxing's money man, and all things related to the biggest fights in the division -- or perhaps even super middleweight, where he'll fight secondary titlist Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 -- will revolve around him. It will be Alvarez who decides whom he wants to fight, even though everyone wants to fight him for that big purse.
One of those men is Daniel Jacobs, who put himself in prime position with his excellent performance Saturday night in front of a hometown crowd at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
That is where Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs), 31, of Brooklyn, New York, won an entertaining and highly competitive split decision against the little known but outstanding Sergiy Derevyanchenko -- 115-112 twice for Jacobs and 114-113 for Derevyanchenko -- to claim a vacant world title.
It was a legitimately close fight between guys who know each other well because of their more than 300 rounds of sparring with each other and the fact that they share manager Keith Connolly and trainer Andre Rozier, who worked with Jacobs for the fight.
Jacobs dropped Derevyanchenko (12-1, 10 KOs), 32, a 2008 Ukrainian Olympian now fighting out of Brooklyn, with a right hand on top of the head late in the first round, but Derevyanchenko was not badly hurt and was in the fight all the way. He lost, but he will remain a player in a tremendous division.
But the question now is what's next for Jacobs, who has a belt, high name recognition, talent and a fan-friendly fighting style? He became a free agent, as his deal with HBO, which is exiting boxing, expired with the fight, as did his deal with promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing.
Most expect Jacobs to remain with Hearn and head to DAZN, where Hearn has an output deal for big money. It would put Jacobs in the hunt for the Canelo showdown, which is a huge fight. So what does Jacobs want next? He was mum after his victory.
"Now that we're a free agent, only time is going to tell what's going to happen. But right now I just want to enjoy the belt, enjoy my family, look back at the fight and see what I could have done better," Jacobs said at his postfight news conference, the belt in his lap. "What's going to happen in the future, you'll hear about real soon."
Hearn's view was clear, however.
"He's a champion. He gets to call the shots," he said. "If he wants a defense, he gets a defense. At this stage of his career, I think the Canelo fight is the fight."
Hearn is right about that. Here are some options for what I'd like to see next for Jacobs, in order of preference:
1. Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs): There's already been talk that if Alvarez defeats Fielding, he'll face Jacobs in May in a fight that DAZN wants next. It would be a very big unification fight. Ideally, it's next.
2. Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs): It would be a rematch of Jacobs' close decision loss to then-unified champion GGG in an exciting fight in March 2017. It seems unlikely to be next. GGG is also a broadcast free agent, but hopefully the sequel will happen eventually. They have unfinished business.
3. Jermall Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs): Charlo fights for Premier Boxing Champions, meaning he's going to be on Fox and/or Showtime, and he has a Dec. 22 interim title defense against Willie Monroe Jr. on Fox. Charlo and Jacobs have trash-talked a bit, and it's a fight Jacobs is interested in.
"This feud that we're having, it's being built," Jacobs said of the fight. "He's fighting Willie Monroe in his next fight, so he has his obligations right now. That victory is not promised. So he has to look good, and hopefully, if he gets that victory, we can talk about that in the near future. You know I want that fight. That's a fight that's been brewing for some time. If there's any personal fight that I want, yeah, it's that fight."
4. Demetrius Andrade (26-0, 16 KOs): Andrade is also with Hearn and on DAZN, and on Oct. 20 he won a vacant world title, so if he faced Jacobs, it would be to unify belts. But it's not nearly as big financially as the other fights, at least not yet. Besides, Jacobs and Andrade are very close friends and aren't eager to fight. They were in camp together sparring to help each other get ready for their recent fights.
"Me and 'Boo Boo' had a discussion before that we would only do it for the big bucks and we would only do it for the unification," Jacobs said. "But if it's a fight that makes sense, I can't go against it. But that's like my brother, though. I have no plans to fight him. Is it something I want to do? Absolutely not. It's not like a Peter Quillin or a Sergiy Derevyanchenko, who were just associates. I've known 'Boo Boo' since we were like 15, 16 years old. We came up through the amateur ranks together. His father [Paul Andrade] is like an uncle to me. This is way more personal than anything, but I also love the sport of boxing. If we face each other, hopefully it's in the future, not the near future."
WBSS rolls on
The quarterfinals continued in the second season of the World Boxing Super Series on Saturday with two junior welterweight tournament fights in which No. 1 seed Regis Prograis and Ivan Baranchyk each advanced with definitive victories.
Prograis (23-0, 19 KOs), 29, fighting at home at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, won a dominating unanimous decision over former lightweight titlist Terry Flanagan (33-2, 13 KOs), 29, of England, who dropped his second fight in a row since moving up to 140 pounds. Prograis decked Flanagan in the eighth round and won 119-108, 118-109 and 117-110.
"I want to bring big-time boxing back to New Orleans, and guess what, I did it," said Prograis, who has now won two fights in a row in his hometown after having never fought there until June. "Flanagan was a tough fighter, and I knew he would be hard to get to. But I had the most fun out there that I've ever had from Round 1 to Round 12."
In the eighth round, Prograis floored fellow southpaw Flanagan with a straight left hand. It was the first time Flanagan had been down in his career.
"Now the world is seeing what I can do," Prograis said.
Baranchyk (19-0, 12 KOs), 25, of Russia, dominated Anthony Yigit (21-1-1, 7 KOs), 27, of Sweden, before stopping him at the end of the seventh round to win the 140-pound world title vacated by Mikey Garcia. Baranchyk badly battered and busted up Yigit's left eye, which was completely closed and a swollen mess when referee Phil Edwards stopped the fight after the seventh round on the ringside doctor's advice. That Yigit even went that far was a testament to his enormous heart.
"You never want a fight to be stopped," Yigit said. "Maybe it was the right decision. Our game plan was to take him later on. Because they stopped the fight, I couldn't fulfill it. He is a hard hitter; congrats to him."
Baranchyk showed respect for the warrior spirit Yigit displayed.
"Anthony is a tough fighter," he said. "He gave everyone a good show and a good fight. This was a tough fight, but I won.
The next step: In the semifinals, Prograis will challenge world titleholder Kiryl Relikh (23-2, 19 KOs), 28, of Belarus, who punched his ticket with a tight decision over ex-titlist Eduard Troyanovsky on Oct. 7.
"There's nobody in this tournament who can beat me," Prograis said. "It doesn't matter who the hell I fight, I'm going to win the whole thing. The [Muhammad] Ali Trophy is mine, so it doesn't matter who I fight. New Orleans, stand up, we're coming back."
Baranchyk's semifinal will be against the winner of Saturday's fight between Scotland's Josh Taylor (13-0, 11 KOs), 27, and Ryan Martin (22-0, 12 KOs), 25, of Cleveland, who meet in Taylor's hometown of Glasgow.
KO of the weekend: Alberto Machado
It was quick but violent as Puerto Rico's Alberto Machado, 28, retained his junior lightweight world title for the second time with a nasty first-round knockout of Yuandale Evans, 29, of Cleveland, in the Jacobs-Derevyanchenko co-feature. With co-promoter and mentor Miguel Cotto looking on, Machado (21-0, 17 KOs) scored three knockdowns, but it was the final shot, a massive right hook that flattened Evans (20-2, 14 KOs), that was spectacular and a KO of the year contender.
The next step: Machado, who is trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, is up for any major fight but called out for a Puerto Rico-Mexico showdown with former titleholder Francisco Vargas (25-1-2, 18 KOs), 33, who is always in action-packed fights. That would be something to behold.
Fights you might have missed
Monday at Pasay City, Philippines
Junior flyweight Felix Alvarado (34-2, 30 KOs) KO7 Randy Petalcorin (29-3-1, 22 KOs), wins a vacant world title.
Alvarado, 29, of Nicaragua, had lost two previous world title fights by decision, to Kazuto Iola for a junior flyweight belt in 2013 and to Juan Carlos Reveco for a flyweight title in his next fight in 2014. But in his third shot, Alvarado came up big as he traveled to the home turf of the Philippines' Petalcorin, 26, and ground him down with a heavy body attack in a fast-paced, competitive and exciting fight that streamed live on ESPN+ in the United States. In the seventh round, Alvarado floored the tiring Petalcorin three times with lefts to the body, the final one keeping him on a knee as he was counted out at 2 minutes, 4 seconds.
Saturday at London
Super middleweight John Ryder (27-4, 15 KOs) KO7 Andrey Sirotkin (15-1, 4 KOs), title eliminator.
Ryder, a 30-year-old British southpaw, won his third fight in a row since an April 2017 split-decision loss to Rocky Fielding, who would go on to win a secondary world title. The victory moved Ryder a step closer to a mandatory shot against world titlist Callum Smith, as he overcame a bad cut over his left eye to batter a badly fading Sirotkin, 33, of Russia, in the seventh round. Ryder applied relentless pressure, tagged Sirotkin with all kinds of shots and finally dropped him to a knee with a right hand to the body as referee Terry O'Connor counted him out at 2:54.