WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo 31-0 (22) withstood a late comeback from Sergiy Derevyanchenko 13-3 (10) to win a 12-round unanimous decision at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut on Saturday night.
The 30-year-old Texan hurt Derevyanchenko in the third round and had the three-time world title challenger busted up by the middle rounds, but true to form the 34-year-old Ukrainian Olympian finished the fight strongly despite the damage to his face.
When the dust settled, judge Tim Cheatham had the fight 116-112, judge David Sutherland scored it 118-110, while judge Steve Weisfeld saw it 117-111.
“I made my team proud and I did what I was supposed to do,” Charlo said. “I executed the game plan. Ronnie Shields told me that I passed the test tonight. I’m happy to go back to the drawing board now and figure out what’s next.
“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.
“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.
“The big fights are out there. I’m steady learning and growing and stepping up in competition. My brother’s next, so that’s what’s really on my mind right now.”
In the main support bout Brandon Figueroa 21-0-1 (16) defended his WBA ‘regular’ super bantamweight belt with a 10th round knockout of Damien Vazquez 15-2-1 (8).
Vazquez was game and gave Figueroa a tough fight in the early rounds before the titleholder finished over the top to earn a late round stoppage at 1:18 of the 10th.
“I felt good tonight,” Figueroa said. “He was a lot tougher than I expected. I was punishing him to the body and head. I had to switch to lefty because of how he was coming in with his head. I didn’t want to risk a head butt, so I boxed him differently.
“He was taking a lot of punishment and just trying to jab and survive in the last few rounds. I have to give him credit for being tough. He came to fight and proved he deserves to be in the ring with me. I knew with the pressure I put on, he wasn’t going to last 12 rounds.
“My dad told me to put more pressure in the middle of the fight and that’s what I did. He was holding up and taking my punches. But I knew just a little bit more damage and I could end it.
“I was just focused on boxing him and trying to find an opening, I wasn’t worried about what his corner was doing. At the end of the day, it’s just me and him in the ring. I was just trying to attack him and follow my game plan.
“I expected a little bit more out of myself. I did hurt my hand in the middle rounds, so I wasn’t throwing it too much. I just had to keep working. I knew that he had trouble with lefties, so I was able to find my range from that stance, hit him a lot more and eventually hurt him.
“I knew that I was going to win. We prepared great for this fight after having injuries in my last camp. All the hard work in the gym really paid off tonight.
“This shows that I can fight under pressure, I’m strong and I give exciting fights. That’s what fans want to see. I always leave everything in the ring and that’s what I did tonight.
“I’m ready for anyone, I know I belong with the best fighters in the division. I just want to give fans great fights.”
In the opening bout of the broadcast WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero 30-4 (21) knocked out previously unbeaten Ghanaian Duke Micah 24-1 (19) in the third round.
The 31-year-old Filipino threw bombs from the opening bell, dropping Micah in the second round and battering him around the ring in the third until referee Steve Willis waved off the contest at 0:54.
“I worked hard and got the win tonight,” Casimero said. “In the first round I saw the body shot hurt him and thought I could get him out right away, but he’s a good boxer who was undefeated for a reason.
“The second round the uppercut hurt him, but Duke Micah works hard, he’s strong and has a good chin. I knew I was facing a good fighter, so I didn’t expect to knock him out so fast. He’s strong so I was prepared to go all 12 rounds.
“I’m the real monster. Naoya Inoue is scared of me. You’re next. I would have knocked out anyone today. If Inoue doesn’t fight me, then I’ll fight Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Nery, or any of the top fighters.”