In the first real test of his career, Jermall Charlo went head-to-head with Sergiy Derevyanchenko for 12 exhilarating rounds Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) passed the test with barely a mark on his face while Derevyanchenko (13-3, 10 KOs) heard the decision looking like a character from “Doom.”
All three judges had Charlo winning the fight, scoring it 116-112, 117-111 and 118-110. Yahoo Sports scored the bout 117-111 for Charlo.
“I made my team proud,” Charlo said to Showtime’s Brian Custer. “I did what I was supposed to do. I executed the game plan. I passed the test. I’m happy, [and] now back to the drawing board and figure out what’s next.
“I knew [Derevyanchenko] was going to be tough. I knew he was going to come to fight. I just didn’t know how or when he would try to turn it up. But I felt like I never let him turn it up. I stayed poised, I stayed composed. I stayed behind the jab. I did want to knock him out and make a statement, but getting a victory is statement enough.”
Charlo, who came in as -185 favorite over Derevyanchenko (+155) on BetMGM, controlled much of the fight using his immense size advantage to control the Ukrainian challenger. Derevyanchenko brought his A game, but couldn’t do much from the outside as Charlo made excellent use of his picture-perfect jab to keep “The Technician” at bay.
After Charlo and Derevyanchenko paid one another plenty of respect in the first two rounds, Derevyanchenko picked up the pace in the third and fought well, but got caught by an uppercut in the last 10 seconds and wobbled back to his corner. The shot must have woken him up as he came back out in the fourth looking invigorated for the first time in the fight. As Derevyanchenko began to let his hands go, Charlo took notice and began looking for more precise counter shots.
Derevyanchenko came out for the fifth round with a noticeable cut under his left eye, which didn’t deter him at all as he continued to press the pace and walk Charlo down. Charlo, however, continued to find a home for his jab, foiling any attempt by Derevyanchenko to stay on the inside and land shots to Charlo’s body. When Derevyanchenko did finally land a big shot to the body in the seventh round, Charlo staggered, then held on to regain his composure. After the round, Derevyanchenko’s corner pleaded with him to continue going to the body and stop head hunting.
Before the 10th round began, the referee called time to have the ringside doctor check on Derevyanchenko’s cut, which he quickly ruled was OK and the fight continued. Charlo kept Derevyanchenko away with his jab, and Derevyanchenko continued searching for angles to get inside, but Charlo wouldn’t acquiesce and Derevyanchenko’s increasingly battered face paid the price.
In the end, Charlo had nary a scratch on him while Derevyanchenko’s face told a much different story than what went down in the ring. Derevyanchenko fought valiantly, but he proved once again that his best just isn’t title-worthy as he’s shown in his three losing attempts at gold.
As for Charlo, bigger and better fights may be on the way, but the champion wouldn’t call out any opponents just yet.
“The bigger fights are out there. I’m steady growing and learning,” he said. “I’ll let my team get to it, they make the best decisions.”
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