By Jim Dower: Daniel Jacobs beat Sergey Derevyanchenko by a 12 round split decision last Saturday night to win the vacant IBF middleweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight, however, failed to bring in the big ratings on HBO World Championship Boxing that had been hoped for by the 31-year-old Jacobs and his Matchroom USA promoter Eddie Hearn.
Jacobs vs. Derevyanchenko wasn’t as exciting as Danny’s previous fight against Maciej Sulecki last April. Jacobs stood in front of Sulecki for 12 rounds, slugging it out with the Polish fighter. Some boxing feel the only reason Jacobs was willing to slug with Sulecki is because he wasn’t a big puncher, and he was coming up from the 154 lb division to face Daniel.
Against Derevyanchenko, Jacobs was moving frequently,and covering up in a turtle-like defense against the ropes. There was fewer exchanges in the fight than there was in the Jacobs-Sulecki fight. In both cases, Jacobs won close fights that could have gone either way. But, by far, Jacobs’s fight against Sulecki was the more entertaining one of the three. Jacobs’ match against Luis Arias last November was virtually un-watchable because of the lack of action from start to finish. Arias, 28, had no interest in exchanging with Jacobs.
The Jacobs-Derevyanchenko fight averaged a pitiful 500,000 viewers with a peak of 553,000 viewers on HBO. This was the final fight of Jacobs’ three-fight contract with HBO.
Instead of Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs) going out with a bang, he went out with a wimper bringing in the worst ratings of his 3-fight deal.
Jacobs’ three fights with HBO brought in the following ratings:
1. Jacobs vs. Maciej Sulecki: 811,000 viewers with 874,000 peak
2. Jacobs vs. Luis Arias: 706,000 viewers with 765,000 peak
3. Jacobs vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko: 500,000 viewers with 553,000 peak
This is a bad way for Jacobs, 31, to be ending his 3-fight contract with HBO, as you always like to see a fighter ending his contract with good numbers. In this case, the fight showed that Jacobs isn’t a big draw. It’s not just the ratings though. The Jacobs-Derevyanchenko card failed to bring in a big audience at MSG, bringing in a little more than 4,000 boxing fans. It’s one thing for Jacobs to bring in low ratings on HBO, which is getting out of the boxing business at the end of the year, but it’s another thing for the fight to bring in only 4000+ fans in Jacobs’ hometown. Jacobs’ promoter Eddie Hearn has been talking about how popular he is, but unfortunately the numbers don’t bear that out.
What’s interesting is the co-feature bout between WBA ‘regular’ super featherweight champion Alberto Machado and fringe contender Yuandale Evans brought in ratings almost the same as the Jacobs-Derevyanchenko fight. Machado-Evans averaged 543,000 viewers with a peak of 556,000. Machado destroyed the hopelessly over-matched Evans in the 1st round in a fight that probably should have never been made in the first place.
In fairness to Jacobs, he was competing for viewers with the World Series, which brought in 13 million viewers according to Dan Rafael. Nevertheless, that’s not likely the reason for the poor ratings for the Jacobs vs. Derevyanchenko fight last Saturday. The biggest reason might be due to HBO’s news announcement that they won’t be televising boxing after 2018. A lot of fans that had subscribed to HBO to see stars like Gennady Golovkin and Saul Canelo have already canceled their subscriptions, and are now subscribing to DAZN and ESPN+ to watch boxing.
“He’s a champion. He gets to call the shots,” Jacobs’ promoter Eddie Hear 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 wrong about Jacobs being able to “call the shots. Jacobs might be able to call the shots for title defenses against the regular contenders in the 160 lb weight division, but he’s certainly not going to call the shots for the fights against the stars in the middleweight divison like Saul Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. It doesn’t matter that Jacobs is the new IBF 160 lb champion. Titles no longer mean anything in this day and age due to the numerous sanctioning bodies watering down each weight class by creating their own titles. Jacobs isn’t the champion at middleweight. He’s what’s refereed to as a ‘belt holder.’ The champion at 160, as far as the boxing public goes, is Canelo Alvarez. GGG is viewed as the people’s champion in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans.
Jacobs’ next fight is still up in the air. While he and his promoter Hearn would like to face Canelo Alvarez next on May 4, it’s not up to them to decide. Canelo is the A-side, and he can make more money fighting a third fight against Gennady Golovkin. Canelo can also fight Demetrius Andrade, Billy Joe Saunders, Rob Brant, David Lemieux or Callum Smith. Canelo’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions surprised a lot of boxing fans when he mentioned recently that WBA Super World’ super middleweight champion Callum Smith and interim WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo are possible options for him to fight next May. It’s unlikely that Canelo will agree to fight either of them, but you can’t rule them out. No one thought Canelo would fight GGG and Erislandy Lara in the past, and he stepped up and fought them both and beat them.
Jacobs and his eager promoter Eddie Hearn are going to need to wait until the smoke clears from Canelo’s December 15 fight against WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs) before they find out whether they have a chance for a fight against him next May. Canelo will be the one that is calling the shots though. If he wants the fight against Jacobs, then the fight can get made. But in no way shape or form is Jacobs and Hearn calling the shots for a fight against Canelo or GGG. Jacobs made a blunder in saying after his fight last Saturday night that he’s not interested in giving Golovkin a rematch. That was a foolish thing for Jacobs to do, because if he doesn’t get a fight against Canelo, he’ll have few options for big money fights at 160 unless he wants to move up to super middleweight to challenge Hearn fighter Callum Smith. That’s a bad match-up for Jacob due to the size and power of the 6’3” Smith.
Jacobs is going to need to become more exciting fighter if he wants to increase his popularity in the boxing world and bring in big ratings. What we saw from Jacobs in his fight against Derevyanchenko and Arias was a fighter that was too concerned with his defense and not enough in trying to make it exciting to entertain the fan. Jacobs isn’t an entertainer compared to guys like Canelo, Charlo and GGG. Those are the big three in the middleweight division as far as bringing excitement. If Golovkin keeps backing up and boxing like we saw against Canelo in the rematch, and in his fight against Jacobs, he could slip from the top in terms of being viewed as an exiting fighter. Right now, Canelo and Charlo has to be viewed as #1 and #2 in the middleweight division in bringing drama to their show. Charlo is clearly the #1 with his explosive punching style. Canelo is #2, and Golovkin has slipped to #3 because he’s boxing more than slugging at this point in his career.