In an era of title belt proliferation where championships typically fall somewhere between recognized and absurd in terms of their actual meaning, it can be easy to underscore the validation of what winning a title means to a boxer who has trained his life for that one shining moment.
For 34-year-old Sergiy Derevyanchenko, a decorated Ukraine amateur who has engineered a successful (and rather unlucky) pro campaign through 15 fights, the topic most pressing on his mind entering Saturday's pay-per-view bout against WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) is the one he is so rarely asked about by media heading in.
Does Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) care whether the Charlos twins, who will headline the unique card featuring dual main events from the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, have received most of the attention throughout the promotion? In a word: no.
"The Technician" could care even less about lamenting over the outcomes of his two previous world title bouts at 160 pounds where Derevyanchenko seemed to give as good as he got against Daniel Jacobs and Gennadiy Golovkin only to come up short in the eyes of the judges in a very disputed manner.
The one topic that transforms the unassuming Derevyanchenko from speaking Russian in a robotic and monotone voice using the translation provided by his wife Iryna to excitedly piecing together words of his own in English is whether he has thought about what it would feel like to hear his name announced as new champion.
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Spoiler alert: Derevyanchenko has been thinking about it nonstop for nearly a quarter century, dating back to when his father first showed him the sport in their native Feodosiya.
"When I was young and would dream about United States, I would see Muhammad Ali, [Mike] Tyson, [Evander] Holyfield. I wanted [to be] like that," Derevyanchenko told CBS Sports last week. "Why so important to win a world title? It's my dream. It's a big deal. I have been boxing all of my life and I would dream about this since 10 years old. Of course, when I get this belt, I will be so happy."
After coming up through the vaunted Ukraine amateur system as a teammate of Vasiliy Lomachenko and Aleksandr Usyk, Derevyanchenko moved to his adopted home of Brooklyn, New York, and was promptly given his nickname of "The Technician" by trainers Andre Rozier and Gary Stark because of how much his pure craft stood out in a gym filled with talented and promising fighters.
Derevyanchenko represents the toughest test to date by far for the 30-year-old Charlo and remains just a slight betting underdog against the unbeaten champion largely because of how well he has already pushed the division's true elite in close losses.
While Derevyanchenko's split-decision loss to Jacobs in 2018 seemed like the right result from the judges in a close fight, his unanimous defeat against Golovkin last October felt like it should have gone the other way. The fight of the year contender saw Derevyanchenko rise from the canvas against such a feared slugger and walk down the aging GGG late.
Despite his inability to sway the judges' favor through 24 competitive title rounds, Derevyanchenko said he isn't about to alter his style at all against Charlo and ultimately has trust in the process.
"I can't change the judges' scores so I can just show the good boxing show," Derevyanchenko said. "I can do what I can do. I can't change the judges. I'm taking a realistic route and am not really focused on judges' score. I'm always focused on the real boxing show and the real fight. Was it sad for me [losing two title bouts]? Yes, but I will continue to fight the good fight."
Whether the fight with Charlo demands of him to box or let his hands go "just like in the street," Derevyanchenko is ready and has plenty of respect for the power and experience his opponent brings to the table.
All Derevyanchenko believes he needs to do is block out all of the noise and distraction that comes with the build to a championship fight and instead focus exclusively on the reason why he's here, which is to hear Hall of Fame ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. read his name after Saturday's fight by prefacing it with the three most important words any boxer will hear.
"I am dreaming for when they say, 'and the new …'" Derevyanchenko said. "I have a feeling in my body and on my hands [just thinking about it]. It's like a small insect under your skin. I really want to listen to, 'the new champion of the world, The Technician.'
"I want to be a real champion and not a paper champion. After this fight, I hope I can prove that. I think that is more important for all of the boxers to show that to the fans and not the judges. That is what is most important."