UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Jermall Charlo accomplished something Saturday night that neither Gennadiy Golovkin nor Daniel Jacobs could do.
The unbeaten WBC middleweight champion decisively defeated Sergiy Derevyanchenko in their 12-round, 160-pound championship match at Mohegan Sun Arena. Judges Tim Cheatham (116-112), David Sutherland (118-110) and Steve Weisfeld (117-111) scored their Showtime Pay-Per-View fight for Houston’s Charlo by comfortable margins.
The taller, stronger Charlo clocked Derevyanchenko with various power shots, controlled a lot of the action with his jarring jab, nearly dropped Derevyanchenko toward the end of the third round, displayed a granite chin and beat his number one contender more convincingly than Golovkin or Jacobs. The relentless, rugged Ukrainian contender took Charlo’s hardest punches, though, and rarely stopped coming forward, despite cuts above both eyes and severe swelling surrounding his left eye.
“We fought just like they wanted to see us fight,” Charlo said during a post-fight press conference. “We stood toe-to-toe, we didn’t back down from nothing. It was supposed to be one of the hardest fights of my career, and we passed the test.”
The disciplined Charlo’s performance undoubtedly was his most impressive since he moved up to the middleweight division 3½ years ago. Before facing Derevyanchenko, the 30-year-old Charlo had been criticized for his level of opposition since he relinquished the IBF junior middleweight title to compete at the 160-pound limit.
Houston’s Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs), who was less than a 2-1 favorite, made the fourth defense of the WBC world middleweight title he won by knocking out Hugo Centeno Jr. (27-3-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC) in the second round of their April 2018 bout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The 34-year-old Derevyanchenko (13-3, 10 KOs) slipped to 0-3 in middleweight title fights, but Charlo commended his durable opponent’s toughness.
“He was a fighter,” Charlo said. “We gave him a puncher’s chance, so at any moment the fight could change. But I stuck to my game plan, I listened to my corner and we executed the game plan well. We got done with the fight with an A, you know?”
CompuBox credited Charlo with landing 39 more punches overall than Derevyanchenko (219-of-627 to 180-of-681). Charlo connected with more jabs (85-of-299 to 17-of-174), but Derevyanchenko landed more power punches (163-of-507 to 134-of-328).
Nevertheless, the judges didn’t view Derevyanchenko’s performance against Charlo the same way they did when he boxed Jacobs and Golovkin.
Daniel Jacobs beat him by split decision in Derevyanchenko’s first championship match, a 12-rounder in October 2018 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater. Eleven months later, Gennadiy Golovkin defeated Derevyanchenko by unanimous decision in a very closely contested slugfest at Madison Square Garden.
The vacant IBF middleweight title was at stake in each of those defeats.
Though determined and tough Saturday night, Derevyanchenko gave Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) and Jacobs (36-3, 30 KOs) more trouble than he provided Charlo.
“Sort of, it was easy,” Charlo said. “I don’t wanna call him like an easy fight. No fight is easy. It’s always a hard fight, you know. Like I said, at any given time, anything can change. But like I said, we stuck to the game plan and we made it happen. I let my jab dictate and do what it do, and we got the victory. I wanted to knock him out, if that’s what you wanna know. I wanted to knock him out, but you can’t knock out every fighter. He was there to survive. He was a tactical survivor. But on to the next one. You know what I mean?”
Battered and bloodied, Derevyanchenko never stopped trying to hurt Charlo in the 12th round. Charlo displayed a tremendous chin
Derevyanchenko caught Charlo with a right hand early in the 11th round, but Charlo didn’t budge. Charlo nailed Derevyanchenko with a jarring jab after the midway mark of the 11th.
Charlo connected with a right to the side of Derevyanchenko’s head with just over 30 seconds to go in the 11th round.
Derevyanchenko pressured Charlo at times during the 10th round, but Charlo took his punches well and caught the game challenger with several hard right hands in that round.
Charlo caught with a right uppercut after the halfway mark of the ninth round. A few seconds before the ninth round ended, Charlo drilled Derevyanchenko with a right hand that knocked him off balance.
Derevyanchenko’s pressure and volume made Charlo hold him just before the halfway point of the eighth round. Derevyanchenko walked into a hard, right hand with about 25 seconds to go in the eighth round.
Charlo rocked Derevyanchenko toward the end of the eighth with a straight right hand that made him retreat until the round ended.
Charlo’s stiff jab knocked Derevyanchenko off balance a little more than minute into the seventh round. Derevyanchenko drilled Charlo with a left hook just after the midway mark of the seventh.
Charlo clipped Derevyanchenko with a left hook just before the seventh round ended.
A left-right combination by Derevyanchenko caught Charlo and backed him up with just over two minutes to go in the sixth round. Charlo and Derevyanchenko exchanged hard shots toward an entertaining end of the sixth round.
Charlo hit Derevyanchenko with a right hand after the bell sounded to end the sixth round.
Charlo caught Derevyanchenko with a right uppercut about 50 seconds into the fifth round. Derevyanchenko caught Charlo with a right and then a left with just over a minute remaining in the fifth round, but Charlo took those shots well.
Charlo also opened a cut over Derevyanchenko’s right eye when he landed a left hook during the fifth round.
Derevyanchenko came out firing to start the fourth round, after Charlo almost dropped him toward the end of the third round. Derevyanchenko tried to find his way inside against the taller, longer Charlo, but Charlo often made him pay.
Charlo connected with a right uppercut when there were about 25 seconds to go in that fourth round.
Charlo landed two right hands in the opening minute of the third round that got Derevyanchenko’s attention. Charlo clipped Derevyanchenko with a left hook as they traded inside later in the third.
Charlo wobbled Derevyanchenko with a right hand that landed on the top of Derevyanchenko’s head just before the third round ended. Derevyanchenko went into a squatting position after taking that punch, moved backward and held Charlo to make it to the end of the round.
“I’m a finisher,” Charlo said. “That happened almost like the last 10 seconds of the round, so he made it through the round. He came back a little bit more recovered, but we figured if we continued to put pressure – but you don’t wanna know run into nothing just because you’ve got a fighter hurt. You wanna continue to, you know, box and use your athleticism. And I stuck to the game plan, even though I had him hurt. If [trainer] Ronnie [Shields] would’ve told me to go out there and see if he’s still hurt, then I would’ve tested him. But I landed the shots that I needed to land to win.”
Derevyanchenko hit Charlo with a right hand that made Charlo reset his feet about 45 seconds into the second round. Derevyanchenko landed a right hand off a break with about one minute to go in the second round.
Derevyanchenko landed a right hand with about 1:15 to go in the first round. Charlo connected with a stiff jab with about 45 seconds remaining in the opening round.
Derevyanchenko connected with a right hand just before the first round ended. Unlike what happened in his losses to Golovkin and Jacobs, Derevyanchenko avoided getting knocked down during the first round against Charlo.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.