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Jacobs vs Derevyanchenko report: Boxing brings former rivals together

The sport and a big fight brought former rivals Eddie Hearn and Lou DiBella together on Saturday.

Sergiy Derevyanchenko v Daniel Jacobs Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Politics and boxing are right there together for making strange bedfellows.

Makes sense, since so often, the boxing “game” has as much or more to do with the behind the scenes workings, the goings on in the back-rooms, board-rooms and bar-rooms, as the in-the-ring action. Think about it; no league office works on fashioning the schedule for the year. Instead, a whole bunch of freelancers make it up as they go. And that means, now and again, that dude you were hating on last month is now your bud, or at least, you guys get along well enough to do business together.

These thoughts ricocheted in my head as on Saturday I walked to the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden Saturday, around 5:30 PM ET. I did the obstacle course walking down 34th from the subway, past the gawkers and hawkers and loons, and thought how amusing and actually gratifying that I’d be seeing promoter Eddie Hearn and promoter Lou DiBella at the event. Many of the hardcore fight fans know these two showed no love for another and engaged in some pretty hardcore online sniping via social media. But you’d not know it when I asked them to stand side by side, before the main event pitting Hearns’ guy Danny Jacobs versus DiBella’s guy Sergey Derevyanchenko played out, that these two had a history of animosity.

I had to Google some myself to refresh my memory. In the summer of 2017, things came to a head, surrounding the Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder negotiations. You likely know there’s been talk of these top of the ladder heavyweights fight to determine division supremacy. Fans want it, but power brokers haven’t made it to the finish line for the Brit and the Alabama boxer to give the masses their pounds of flesh. DiBella promotes Wilder and Hearn is AJ’s promoter, so they went back and forth with insults. I won’t rehash, suffice to say no love was lost, or to be found.

Fast forward to the night of Oct. 27.

Lou and Eddie stood next to each other and I told them I like it when they get along, because that helps the biggest fights get made. DiBella said that he never hated Eddie. “Was I pissed off at him at times, yeah. Was it mutual, yeah. I never hated him.”

Hearn shared a thought on a difference between American business and in the British sphere. “The amazing thing about Americans, which my dad always told me, they have the ability in business to want to kill you one day and the next day everything is absolutely fine. It’s actually quite refreshing.” In England, grudges stand longer and hold more firmly, he and DiBella agreed.

I also took the opportunity to ask Hearn, is it true that someone has to sign to DAZN to get a fight with Canelo?

“The fight against Canelo would have to be on DAZN,” he said. “So you don’t have to join DAZN to fight Canelo. What I actually said was, if you want to fight Canelo, you’ve gotta be with the DAZN, what I mean is, that fights gotta be on the DAZN. What I would also say is, fighters that are with DAZN have a much better chance of getting the Canelo fight, because it’s a natural transition.”

Same idea regarding the welterweights and them being aligned with PBC, DiBella pointed out.

He said that when a fight gets large enough and will make a hefty money pot, it will get made. Yeah, each promoter is looking to keep his grass greenest.

“Will that make people wait longer for Crawford versus one of the PBC guys? Probably. Do I think inevitably at some point in time fights will occur between Arum fighters and PBC fighters, yeah. Look, it’s really not that different than it was previously.”

I told the promoters that I like to see them getting along, even if their Twitter warring is easier to cover and sensationalistic. “Kumbaya,” said Dibella, and Hearn grinned.

Random Notes: Sitting ringside were a bunch of the hitters who’ll appear on the DAZN show set to unfold in Kansas Nov. 17. Wait, what? Kansas? What does Eddie Hearn know about Kansas? Well, he knows Nico Hernandez will get butts in seats there and thus the joint will be hopping more than it would have in Atlantic City, so close to a Dmitry Bivol card. Made sense to go to this boxing non-hotbed then. Jarrell Miller will headline and he seemed quite confident he will be able to handle the 18-0 Bogdan Dinu, a Romanian, who’ll battle Miller for the vacant WBA heavyweight title. Miller if he wins would still then have to fight Fres Oquendo, who won the right to scrap for that belt after a years long battle which headed to a court.

—I heard chatter that we will see Anthony Joshua fighting in the US next fall. Maybe to fight Miller?

—Claressa Shields sat ringside with trainer John David Jackson, and clapped enthusiastically for Heather Hardy, as Hardy bested Shelly Vincent via UD10 and snagged a WBO title at 126 pounds.

—Hardy stands as a stellar role model for human beings down on their luck, reminding them to hold on to their dreams. She started boxing eight years ago, was homeless six years ago, and this morning wakes up next to a world title belt. Keep grinding, is the message.

—Yuandale Evans was knocked down twice but the ref let him keep trying and he got dropped and stopped by Alberto Machado, the Puerto Rican heavy hitter at super featherweight, in the lead-in to Jacobs vs Derevyanchenko. Promoter DiBella was incensed, believing the plug should have been pulled earlier. He told me at 1:30 am that Evans was OK.

—HBO boxing boss Peter Nelson was ringside and props to him, he was making the rounds, chatting with boxing writers. He’s not in hiding, or anything. Nelson chatted with me and talked more about how their research told them that boxing wasn’t moving people to subscribe or stay subscribed. Pretty simple stuff, then. Let’s produce material that has a better chance of moving people to subscribe to our service. He deserves credit for processing with me, because I can tell you this, most folks who were written about as I did him a few weeks back would not stand in the pocket with me after that. I’d be on the do not see list for a spell, maybe forever. Props to Nelson.

—Some press persons were shooting the bull, about the news that Steve Kim would be headed to ESPN. One keyboard tapper reminded me those lads had a history of not jelling in the sandbox together, so that dynamic will be an interesting one for them, possibly. Maybe they borrow a page from the DiBella-Hearn book.

—The Jacobs vs Derevyanchenko fight was one of those that I’d like to have half points available when scoring. I saw Jacobs winning narrow rounds to where he was up 9-3 or 8-4 or on my cards. But several were 10-9.5 rounds. He just edged them. I seemed to be more impressed with the variety of his attack, how he switched movement and being a bit more stationary, switched stances, and the like, than most others were. Consensus seemed to be that folks wanted more of him sitting down, really trying to put his physical stamp on his foe. Hey, always easier for us on the outside looking in to opine on what the doers could have done better, right?

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