Peter Wells returns this weekend with his official Danny Jacobs vs Derevyanchenko preview and prediction.

After years of being one of boxing’s centrepieces, the Middleweight division has suddenly hit a crossroads. The supremely talented but unheralded Demetrius Andrade is the new WBO champion of the world, while Billy Joe Saunders loses ground following a failed drugs tests that resulted in the loss of his title. The king of the division has been dethroned, Gennady Golovkin losing his IBF belt out of the ring and his WBC and WBA crowns to bitter rival Canelo Alvarez. And as for Alvarez he has made the bold move up to Super Middleweight – and with a potential blockbuster versus David Benavidez in his sights, questions will be asked pretty soon whether Alvarez will relinquish his 160lb titles.

Jermall Charlo and the aforementioned Andrade have added a new American swagger to the division, as has the ever popular Daniel Jacobs – who contests the vacant IBF title against its highest mandatory challenger, Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

Jacobs 34-2(29KO’s) has already proven himself an elite athlete in the Middleweight class, having racked up a host of stoppage victories, while coming up marginally short against Golovkin (L UD 12). Back-to-back points triumphs over Luis Arias (W UD 12) & Maciej Sulecki (W UD 12) have lined him up for this opportunity, but they have failed to set the world alight.

However, such a victory would be considered a good result against a former standout in the amateur ranks, and now a heavily competent professional fighter. Ukraine’s Derevyanchenko 12-0(10KO’s) has not found many opponents willing and able to last the distance, and in those 12 opponents, the 32-year old has not been fed lightly.

Respected Sam Soliman (W TKO 2) did not last more than 6 minutes, while the exciting Tureano Johnson (W TKO 12) came unstuck in the final round.

Derevyanchenko’s power is real, and real for 12 hard rounds, but Jacobs has tasted and came through the hardest hitter in generations at Middleweight, and the Brooklynite can bang himself.

Soliman and Johnson are credible opposition on route to a world title match, but Jacobs would likely have inflicted the same damage on the pair of international opposition, much like he has when dispatching Peter Quillin (W TKO 1), Sergio Mora (W TKO 2 & W TKO 7) and Caleb Truax (W TKO 12).

His two most recent performances over unbeaten opposition may well have been a case of motivational problems, or simply a case of playing it safe with so much to look forward to. Now it is time for Jacobs to think only of the here and now.

For Jacobs it is a chance to exercise the demons of the past against European opposition. Each of his defeats came to hard hitting and well-schooled ‘Eastern Bloc’ opponents in Kazakhstan’s Golovkin and Russia’s Dmitry Pirog (L TKO 5).

Derevyanchenko is a forceful fighter, but also a quality technical operator, in fact he holds much of the same qualities that Jacobs does. But one factor that Jacobs edges is the speed department, and that dexterity could be the slim difference between the two in such an evenly contested fight.

The fight will excite from start to finish, with Derevyanchenko setting the early pace as Jacobs looks to feel his way through the early stanzas. Concerned with giving up too much ground in the early goings, Jacobs will begin to apply his own stamp on the fight. Picking his punches nicely over the top of Derevyanchenko’s jab, Jacobs will begin to claw back the gap.

Jacobs’ early work to the body will pay dividends in the latter stages, no more so than the championship rounds when Derevyanchenko becomes a tad ragged as he senses a need for a fight ending moment.

At the end of 12 pulsating rounds, both boxers will feel their respective strategies were enough, but it will be the American who edges it for at least two of the three judges.