UNCASVILLE, Connecticut -- Jermall Charlo claimed in the lead up to the toughest fight of his career on Saturday that he was already the best middleweight boxer in the world. Against Sergiy Derevyanchenko, in his first pairing against an elite 160-pound opponent, he finally had the chance to prove it.
Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs), in the third defense of his full WBC middleweight title, put forth his most impressive performance to date by holding off Derevyanchenko (13-3, 10 KOs) via unanimous decision inside Mohegan Sun Arena. The fight was the first of two pay-per-view main events headlined by the 30-year-old twin Charlo brothers in separate fights.
Behind his quick jab, heavy right hand and very underrated defense, Charlo took home 116-112, 117-111 and 118-110. CBS Sports also scored it 117-111 for Charlo.
"I made my team proud. I did what I was suppose to do. Ronnie Shields said that I passed the test. I passed the test, now we get back to the drawing board and figure out what's next," Charlo said after the fight.
The fight turned out to be as advertised from the standpoint of entertainment thanks to the combined skill showed by both and the savage will of Derevyanchenko, a 34-year-old from Ukraine who came up short in his third attempt at a middleweight world title despite proving each time to be among the division's elite.
Charlo hurt Derevyanchenko multiple times, cut him over the left eye and caused significant swelling around both. The native of Houston also survived a spirited mid-fight rally from Derevyanchenko who was able to go to the body and appeared to even briefly hurt Charlo there in Round 6.
"He was tough, but I knew he was going to be tough. I knew he'd come to fight, I just didn't know how and when he'd try to turn it up. I felt like I never really let him turn it up and that was the game plan," Charlo said. "I studied well and I didn't let the pandemic affect my training. I just want to keep fighting and not let any negative interrupt the positive.
"I stayed poised, I stayed composed and I executed the game plan. I was staying behind the jab, I got away from it a little, but Ronnie got me back. I wanted to knock him out, but dominating like I did was a big statement."
Charlo gave his trainer, Ronnie Shields, tons of credit for guiding him through this performance. The Houston native leaned on his trainer's guidance throughout the fight, but particularly late when Derevyanchenko started to land more shots. Shields was more than pleased his the effort.
"I give his performance an A. Everyone was talking about how this is a tough fight, but every fight is tough," Shields said. "Jermall has one of the best jabs in the business. It's a hard jab and he hurt Sergiy with it. He backed him up with it. I'm so proud of him. He showed that the better the competition, the better he gets."
"I'm not an easy fight for anyone," Charlo said. "As long as I keep doing what I'm doing, I'll get the fights I need and get the legacy that I always dreamed of."
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