Sergiy Derevyanchenko took a giant step toward a potential shot at unbeaten 160-pound world champion Gennady Golovkin with a punishing performance Thursday night.
Nicknamed “The Technician,” Derevyanchenko was more like a demolitionist as he scored three knockdowns to gain a second-round TKO of former champion Sam Soliman in a title eliminator at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
With his victory, Sergiy Derevyanchenko (9-0, 7 KOs) became only the second man to stop the 42-year-old Soliman (44-14, 18 KOs) in his 19-year career and put himself in position for a mandatory shot at Golovkin.
“I prepared very hard for this fight, and I think that it showed in the ring in a dominant performance,” Derevyanchenko said. “The outcome of the fight was inevitable and I barely even took a punch.
“This should absolutely, 100 percent send a statement to every top middleweight in the world that I’m coming to get them, and this should definitely put me in the conversation about fighting Gennady Golovkin.”
Derevyanchenko floored Soliman, who was fighting for the first time in 13 months, for the first time late in the first round. Soliman bounced off the ropes after retreating and then bulled forward against the Russia-born Ukrainian, who stepped back before unleashing an overhand right that landed solidly and sent the onetime titleholder to the canvas.
“I looked into his eyes after I knocked him down the first time and I knew he would continue coming forward. I wasn’t going to drop my guard,” Derevyanchenko said. “I didn’t even feel that punch on my glove because it was so clean and to the chin, but I felt that final punch.”
Derevyanchenko, 30, dropped Soliman for the second time in the fight with a counter left hook to the temple with just over a minute left in the second round, then gained the stoppage after landing another cleaner, harder left hook to the chin of Soliman, whose back hit the canvas with a thud as he fell underneath the bottom rope.
Soliman tried to regain his feet, but he stumbled over as referee Johnny Callas waved an end to the bout at the 2:41 mark.
The start of the fight was delayed as both boxers had to get their hands rewrapped shortly before they were scheduled to make their way to the ring, causing late disruption to each fighter’s usual routine, but it didn’t take long for Derevyanchenko to heat up.
“Soliman came out nervous and not very coordinated, but that’s the way he usually fights. That’s his style,” Derevyanchenko said. “I warmed up more than once and that broke my rhythm. In the ring, I had to get my rhythm.”
Soliman, who became a world champion at the age of 40 by defeating Felix Sturm in Germany in May 2014, suffered his third straight defeat. The Australian dropped a unanimous decision in a title defense against Jermain Taylor in October 2014 and then lost a split decision in June 2015 to then-unbeaten Dominic Wade, who subsequently lost to Golovkin in April.
“I’m doing well,” said Soliman, who hadn’t been stopped since Anthony Mundine scored a ninth-round TKO against him in a 168-pound title fight in March 2007. “I didn’t warm up properly [after getting my hands rewrapped]. Maybe three minutes, but that’s no excuse. He did his job.
“That never happened to me before. He’s a good boxer who did what he had to do. I can’t take anything away from him.”
In the opening bout on the ESPN broadcast, hard-charging 160-pound contender Ievgen Khytrov (14-0, 12 KOs) was dominant as he earned a ninth-round TKO against Paul Mendez (19-3-2, 9 KOs), who had never been stopped previously.
For a complete look at Derevyanchenko vs Soliman, visit our fight page.