The promoters for middleweight contenders Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Daniel Jacobs went down to the wire on Tuesday but made a deal for them to meet for a vacant world title.
Lou DiBella, who promotes Derevyanchenko, and Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, which promotes Jacobs, had a difficult and intense negotiation, but the frenemies were able to work out the deal minutes before the scheduled 12 p.m. ET purse bid at the IBF offices in Springfield, New Jersey.
Making a deal was paramount because had the fight gone to a purse bid, under which each fighter would be due 50 percent of the winning bid, it meant there likely would not have been a fight because Jacobs would not have taken part. Derevyanchenko would then have been ordered to face the next leading available contender for the vacant 160-pound belt.
DiBella had big financial backing from Top Rank to put Derevyanchenko's title fight on ESPN, be it against Jacobs or somebody else. But with Jacobs tied contractually to HBO, Hearn told DiBella that Jacobs would fight only on that network, so they either needed to make a deal or there would be no fight.
The date is not set yet but the fight, a co-promotion between DiBella and Hearn, is slated to take place in October or November (with Oct. 27 the likely date) at Madison Square Garden in New York.
When the deal was finally agreed to -- with HBO agreeing to pay in the neighborhood of $2.5 million, which is more than it is contractually obligated to spend on Jacobs' next fight -- the promoters, who have jabbed each other often in the media, played nice on social media.
"After weeks of negotiating with my dear friend Lou DiBella -- delighted to agree terms for Daniel Jacobs vs. Derevyanchenko for the IBF world title on HBO. Date coming soon for NY," Hearn wrote.
DiBella responded, "Eddie Hearn and I closed a deal for one of the best fights that can be made in the middleweight division. Imagine that -- Eddie and I co-promoting a big fight! He's still a cheeky little bastard, but I look forward to a big card and some good, nasty back and forth."
Jacobs and Derevyanchenko will be fighting for the belt stripped from unified world champion Gennady Golovkin on June 6 for electing to finalize a rematch with Canelo Alvarez rather than fight his due mandatory defense against Derevyanchenko next.
Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs), 32, a 2008 Olympian for Ukraine who fights out of Brooklyn, New York, and former secondary world titleholder Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs), 31, of Brooklyn, are very familiar with each other. They have known each other for years, share the same manager in Keith Connolly, have sparred numerous times and they also share trainer Andre Rozier.
Connolly, whose own nasty back-and-forth with DiBella was also part of the rough negotiations, told ESPN that Rozier will remain with Jacobs and that Derevyanchenko, who is co-trained by Rozier and Gary Stark Sr., will have Stark run his camp and corner for the fight.
"I'm glad the deal between Danny and Sergey got finalized," Connolly told ESPN. "I know there was a lot of talk about them not wanting to fight each other, but at the end of the day they both wanted the fight because of the tremendous upside that having a title would give to them. Both fighters are a class act and I think this could be one of the best fights of the year. The winner should definitely be in line to fight the winner of the Canelo-GGG fight."
DiBella did not want to get into the details of what made the negotiation so difficult and instead elected to take the high road.
"It's a terrific matchup and Sergiy absolutely has a good shot to win this fight," he said. "They've sparred before and had rigorous sparring. If there are people who don't think it will be a competitive fight they will be shocked. I really do believe it's one of the best fights in the middleweight division now that the Canelo-GGG rematch is made."