After sparring 160-pound champion Daniel Jacobs for more than 40 rounds in recent weeks, Sergiy Derevyanchenko believes he’s more than ready to face unbeaten Kemahl Russell.
Derevyanchenko served as a primary sparring partner for the champ leading up to Jacobs’ title unification against Gennady Golovkin in New York on Saturday night. The Russian-born Ukrainian is co-trained in New York by Gary Stark Jr. and Andre Rozier, the latter of whom also trains Jacobs.
Sergiy Derevyanchenko (9-0, 7 KOs) hopes his experience in the ring with Jacobs will be mutually beneficial Tuesday night when he continues his own pursuit of a 160-pound title shot in a 10-round headlining bout against Kemahl Russell (10-0, 8 KOs) at the Fitz Tunica Casino & Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi (FS1, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“Danny’s (an inch) taller than (the 5-foot-11) Russell, his hands are a million times faster, his punches a million times sharper,” Rozier said. “Russell’s not even in the same hemisphere.
“Sergiy’s a sharpshooter and, in my opinion, a more accurate puncher than Golovkin’s clubbing, wide shots. That helped Danny’s focus on consistent punches coming faster and made it easy to work on positioning, footwork and ring generalship. Sergiy’s primed from working with Danny’s, and Danny’s sharp from what he’s received from Sergiy.”
To accommodate Jacobs for his fight, Derevyanchenko held his nearly 11-week training camp in the Bay Area, where he also spent time in the ring with 37-year-old contender Avtandil Khurtsidze, who has an interim title bout against Tommy Langford in England on April 22.
“Sparring was great with world champions Danny and Avtandil,” Derevyanchenko said. “I’m prepared for everything Russell has. It's always pleasant to finish fights with a KO.”
Both fighters made the contracted weight Monday, with Derevyanchenko hitting the scale at 164 pounds and Russell coming in at 163.6.
“ Sparring was great with world champions Danny [Jacobs] and Avtandil [Khurtsidze]. I’m prepared for everything Russell has. ” Sergiy Derevyanchenko, unbeaten 160-pound contender
Derevyanchenko, 31, competed in more than 400 amateur bouts and earned a bronze medal at the 2007 World Amateur Boxing Championships before representing Ukraine at the 2008 Olympics. “The Technician” also went 23-1 in the World Series of Boxing, a professional-style competition that allows boxers to maintain Olympic eligibility, before making his pro debut in July 2014.
Derevyanchenko has barely been challenged since then, scoring six of his seven KOs in four rounds or less. He is coming off perhaps his best performance in July, when he knocked down former 160-pound champion Sam Soliman three times on the way to earning a second-round TKO.
Despite his opponent’s impressive credentials, Russell said there’s a reason why he’s also coming into this bout with an unblemished record.
“Everyone sleeps on me. That's why I took this fight,” Russell said. “He’s a pressure fighter, but so am I. He can punch, but so can I. I respect his power, but I like being the underdog for a reason. It’s Toe-To-Toe Tuesday, and I’m gonna kick his ass.”
Russell gained famed in his native Jamaica by winning his country’s version of The Contender in 2015 with a fourth-round TKO of Richard Holmes. “The Hitman” made his U.S. debut in his last fight in October, when he earned a second-round KO of Henry Mercer in Macon, Georgia, for his fourth straight stoppage.
Although still unbeaten, the 27-year-old Russell is taking a big step up in competition against Derevyanchenko.
“Russell’s seen nothing like he’s about to see in Sergiy,” Rozier said. “I expect Sergiy to knock this guy out [early]. If it goes past four rounds, I’ll be surprised.”
Russell said that’s exactly what he wants to hear.
“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “They can take me lightly until [Derevyanchenko] gets his ass knocked out.”
For a complete look at Derevyanchenko vs Russell, visit our fight page.