UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – As dangerous as Sergiy Derevyanchenko might be at times Saturday night, Ronnie Shields is confident his fighter won’t have a hard time drilling Derevyanchenko with punishing shots of his own.
Jermall Charlo’s trainer feels Derevyanchenko’s defensive deficiencies will enable the WBC middleweight champion to do things to the Ukrainian contender that not even Gennadiy Golovkin or Daniel Jacobs could do when they defeated Derevyanchenko on points.
“I’ve been watching Derevyanchenko for a while now,” Shields told BoxingScene.com. “He likes to apply pressure. He’s got that in-and-out pressure. He likes to turn southpaw on the inside. There’s little stuff that he does that you have to be careful of. But you know, he’s not a defensive fighter at all. He’s all offense and no defense. I see a lot of things that we can do, that we can exploit, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”
Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) is considered Charlo’s toughest opponent since the 30-year-old Houston native moved up from the junior middleweight division to middleweight 3½ years ago. Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) is listed as slightly less than a 2-1 favorite over Derevyanchenko, who is the number one contender for Charlo’s championship.
The 34-year-old Derevyanchenko has lost only a split decision to Brooklyn’s Jacobs (36-3, 30 KOs) in October 2018 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater and a unanimous decision to Golovkin in his last fight. Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) defeated Derevyanchenko on all three scorecards, but the result of their action-packed, brutal battle last October 5 at Madison Square Garden was considered controversial.
Both of those losses cost Derevyanchenko the IBF middleweight title, which was vacant in each instance. Derevyanchenko defeated Germany’s Jack Culcay (29-4, 13 KOs) by unanimous decision in the 12-rounder between his losses to Jacobs and Golovkin.
“When he fought that kid Jack Culcay, that was a tough fight for him, too,” Shields said. “He took a lot of shots in that fight, also. But all of those guys, none of them fight like Jermall. Danny Jacobs, Golovkin or Culcay – no, none of them fight like Jermall Charlo, and I think that’s gonna be the difference in the fight. He hasn’t been hit like he’s gonna get hit by Jermall.”
Shields believes a victory over Derevyanchenko in their Showtime Pay-Per-View fight at Mohegan Sun Arena will validate Charlo’s reign as a middleweight champion. The former IBF junior middleweight champ has been criticized for his level of opposition as a 160-pounder, but Derevyanchenko is commonly considered a top-five middleweight.
“It’s not Jermall’s fault that he can’t get a Triple-G, he can’t get a Canelo Alvarez, that he can’t get those fights,” Shields said. “He’s been asking for those fights, but he can’t get ‘em. It’s not his fault because of that. And I think it just will put a stamp of approval on his career, to let him know, ‘OK, I beat a guy that gave this guy so much trouble, gave that guy so much trouble, and look what I did to him.’ I just think this win will make Golovkin take a really good, hard look at Jermall, to say, ‘You know what? I need to fight this guy because he is one of the best fighters.’
“He deserves to be recognized as the WBC middleweight champion of the world. Like any fighter, when you train as hard as he trains and people still don’t give you the credit for being a world champion, for a fighter, man, a lot of fighters take that to heart. People say, ‘Well, you ain’t fought this guy,’ or, ‘You ain’t fought that guy.’ And people don’t know what the business is all about, and how things have to be put in place for you to get those type of fights. At the same time, you’re undefeated and you’re still in your prime, and people still don’t give you credit. So, I think everybody is looking at this fight and looking at Sergiy Derevyanchenko as a real threat. Jermall wins this fight, some people will give him credit and some people won’t. Some people just won’t give some fighters the credit.”
Charlo-Derevyanchenko will be the main event of the first of Showtime’s two three-bout blocks Saturday night (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT; $74.95).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.