It had the look early on in Jermall Charlo versus Sergiy Derevyanchenko Saturday night brawl like Derevyanchenko was just straight made for Charlo. A natural counterpuncher loves an aggressive, hard-charging, easy to hit target. Charlo’s best punch is an uppercut, and Derevyanchenko is about as tiny a fella as you’ll see in the middleweight division, and as such has to duck down to get inside where he can land his shots better.
Thing is, Derevyanchenko isn’t really made for anyone. He’s a dude who finds a way to make life hard on his opponent, be it Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs or Charlo, who brings some of what Jacobs does only faster, younger and more powerful.
So that’s what Derevyanchenko did in the PBC pay-per-view featuring the Charlo twins: Derevyanchenko wasn’t made for Charlo; he made it hard for Charlo.
Until Derevyanchenko came on — mostly, beginning in the 6th — Charlo was having his way thanks to all his aforementioned assets. With mere seconds remaining in the 3rd round, it was going extremely his way when he landed a left sorta midway between the side and top of his head. Derevyanchenko wobbled but didn’t go down, saved by the bell.
Even when Derevyanchenko came out hard in the 4th, Charlo might have had him hurt a few more times. In the 5th, Derevyanchenko was cut. (By fight’s end, his face looked as though he had some kind of severe allergic reaction.)
If you thought Derevyanchenko wasn’t gonna rumble downhill as he always does later in fights, if you thought his prior wars had gotten the best of him, he disabused you of that notion in the back half of the bout. He got into a rhythm, poking his way in before landing nice combos — the combos had previously been entirely Charlo’s domain — particularly a double left hook to the body and head.
It started getting harder to score thanks to rounds like the 8th, where Derevyanchenko appeared to hurt Charlo to the body, only for Charlo to close the round with a clearer bit o’ hurtin’.
TQBR had it 116-112 by fight’s end, as did one judge; the other two had it 117-111 and 118-110. This was a real test for Charlo, whatever the scores. Derevyanchenko got off more punches than anyone has against Charlo.
Charlo passed the test. You’d love to see him against someone like division kingpin Canelo Alvarez, if he could get his mind made up about what division he’s in going forward. Gennady Golovkin — sounds neat! The politics of fighting on different networks is the tiresome reason we probably won’t get either. Chris Eubank Jr. and Demetrius Andrade have thrown fiery trash talk Charlo’s way, yet both those dudes fight on DAZN just like Alvarez and GGG. So there’s that.
On the undercard of part 1: Both A-sides got spirited efforts from their opponents, but clear wins over them, mirroring the main event, basically. Top-10 junior featherweight Brandon Figueroa beat up Damien Vazquez for far too long before getting the stoppage, and his next opponent might be someone who fights in part II of the card. A flashier-than-usual (some foot-shuffling, some one-armed push-ups post win) John Riel Casimero dropped Duke Micah multiple times before getting the KO in the 3rd. He wants Naoya Inoue. Winner crowns a real bantamweight champ. That fight fell apart before. No reason it can’t still be in the offing, though.
(photo: Jermall Charlo, by Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME)