charlo-derevyanchenko.jpg
Showtime

Although the most intriguing unknown storyline entering Saturday's Jermall Charlo-Sergiy Derevyanchenko middleweight title bout surrounds whether the WBC champion is truly elite in his first defining test at 160 pounds, Derevyanchenko brings a few underreported questions of his own. 

Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs), the 34-year-old former amateur star from Ukraine, is surely best known for having narrowly lost a pair of disputed decisions in previous middleweight title bouts against Daniel Jacobs and Gennadiy Golovkin. But it's the question regarding just how much physical punishment he endured against Golovkin will affect him that remains unknown. 

Golovkin floored Derevyanchenko in the first round of their all-action war last fall and produced a vicious amount of swelling and cuts despite the fact that Derevyanchenko came on and backed him up in the middle rounds. 

"I was happy to have the break after the Gennadiy Golovkin fight. I got good rest," Derevyanchenko said during Wednesday's final press conference. "I'm relaxed, and when I came back to the United States, I was ready to train and now I'm ready to fight. It all helped me.

"Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs were tough fights, they were both close fights and I think those experiences definitely helped me. I'll show it in the ring on Saturday."

Respect box? Subscribe to our podcast -- State of Combat with Brian Campbell -- where we take an in-depth look at the world of boxing each week, including a complete breakdown of Saturday night's PPV doubleheader below.

Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) will surely be entering the biggest test of his career against Derevyanchenko in one half of a unique pay-per-view doubleheader (Showtime PPV, 7 p.m. ET) featuring two cards in the same building inside the Mohegan Sun Arena. Jermell Charlo, the 30-year-old twin brother of Jermall, faces off against Jeison Rosario in a junior middleweight unification in the second main event. 

But Charlo, a former titleholder himself at 154 pounds, isn't looking at this as a self-initiation to what the deep end of the pool feels like at middleweight. Two defenses of his WBC title and five victories overall since moving up to 160 pounds, Charlo already believes he's the best fighter in the division.

"This is just the beginning for me. There's been 30 fighters who've tried to beat me, and all 30 failed," Charlo said. "I'm focused and locked in. I'm ready to fight. Talk is cheap. Sergiy can say what he wants to say about me, it's going to be a fight on Saturday.

"Derevyanchenko is looking past me. His trainer and his whole camp, they're all looking past me. They're going to find out what they're in for on Saturday. I'm the best in the world."

You can order the Showtime PPV for $74.99 here

What will be most interesting to see is whether Derevyanchenko's pressure style can sway the judges in ways he was unable to previously against Jacobs and Golovkin. In his favor is that statistically, according to CompuBox, he attempts the most amount of punches per round of active middleweights at 64.6. Charlo, meanwhile, places dead last with the fewest at 45.9. 

Although Charlo has proven successful as a powerful counterpuncher who makes his punches matter, Derevyanchenko is durable and busy enough to potentially give him problems. But only if he can dissuade Charlo from being busier by landing clean and effective shots. That's where the unknown elements surrounding Charlo's chin, backbone and ability to deal with elite pressure make things interesting. 

"I'm going to put pressure on him from the beginning," Derevyanchenko said. "I'm going to use my legs, my jab and combinations to get the win."

This fight is considered the closest of the six on the PPV, according to the oddsmakers at William Hill Sportsbook. Charlo has been favored throughout the week, but by the slightest of margins. As we inch closer to fight time, though, Charlo is now more than a 2-1 favorite to get the job done against Derevyanchenko. Let's take a closer look at the rest of the first fight card with the latest odds from William Hill.

Fight card, odds

  • Jermall Charlo (c) -220 vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko +180, WBC middleweight title
  • Brandon Figueroa (c) -4000 vs. Damien Vazquez +1500, WBA super bantamweight title  
  • Daniel Roman -2000 vs. Juan Carlos Payano +1000, super bantamweights 

Prediction 

For whatever advantages Derevyanchenko may find he has from a footwork and technical standpoint, his aggression often puts him in dangerous situations. He doesn't employ the same level of patience and timing from the outside that former champion Matvey Korobov used to give Charlo his toughest fight to date in the division.

Provided Charlo doesn't fold under the pressure, his combination of speed, power and athleticism has the potential to be Kryptonite for the challenger. He will also have significant height advantage of three inches and six inches in reach to Derevyanchenko. 

One can certainly expect a fast-paced and entertaining fight between these two. But as long as Charlo can begin to time Derevyanchenko and make him pay for his aggression, things could begin to go his way on the scorecards. 

Although Derevyanchenko is a fast-paced stalker and comfortable on the inside, he isn't a mauler or someone who stretches the rule set in order to gain an advantage. That means if he can't hurt Charlo, he could have trouble giving judges a reason to reward him in a way they didn't in his previous two title attempts despite a pair of gutsy efforts. 

When you take into account how zoned in Charlo is at the moment and how willing he is to make a huge splash in his PPV headlining debut, it's hard not to back the oddsmakers in believing that this difficult test will be just that -- but it will also be one he should win. 

Pick: Charlo via UD12