Derevyanchenko ready for major test against former champion Soliman

The discrepancy in professional ring experience between Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Sam Soliman is exceptional heading into their 160-pound bout.

Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Sam Soliman

Rising 160-pound prospect Sergiy Derevyanchenko (left) has just 32 professional rounds under his belt, which is 12 fewer rounds than Thursday's opponent, Sam Soliman, has victories. (Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment)

While Derevyanchenko (8-0, 6 KOs) has competed in just 32 rounds since making his pro debut in July 2014, Soliman (44-13, 18 KOs) is a onetime 160-pound world champion who has fought a remarkable 516 rounds during his 19-year career.

Despite that vast contrast, Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Sam Soliman will fight Thursday (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, with the winner taking a step forward toward a mandatory shot against unbeaten 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin.

Both boxers weighed in at 159 pounds Wednesday.

“It will be a great matchup of experience versus youth, past versus future,” Derevyanchenko said. “I expect to be the aggressor and to try to dominate and finish the fight early, but I’m 100 percent ready to go full steam for the full 12 rounds.”

Derevyanchenko, 30, is coming off an eighth-round TKO of Mike Guy in March, and has not really been challenged in his eight-fight pro career. It's a trend he plans to continue against the 42-year-old Soliman.

“I don’t want to just walk into a Golovkin fight; I want to be truly ready, so right now, I’m focused on looking impressive against Sam Soliman, and then we can take it from there,” Derevyanchenko said.

“I’ve watched a lot of film on Sam Soliman, who is my best opposition to date. I’ve got a great scouting report on him, so I would love to make a statement and stop him.”

Soliman made his pro debut in April 1997 and had an unorthodox rise to become world champion. The Melbourne, Australia, native began his career with an unremarkable record of 12-7 and didn’t win a world title until beating Felix Sturm by unanimous decision in May 2014 at the age of 40.

Soliman lost his first title defense against Jermain Taylor by unanimous decision in October 2014, and then lost a 10-round split decision to then-unbeaten contender Dominic Wade in June 2015 in his most recent bout.

Despite those setbacks, the Australian remains a dangerous opponent who has had as many fights against current or former world champions (going 2-6) as Derevyanchenko has had professional bouts.

While Derevyanchenko, who moved to Brooklyn, New York, last year, certainly doesn’t possess the same résumé as his opponent, he has more experience than appears at first glance.

He enjoyed an outstanding amateur career of more than 400 fights during which he earned a bronze medal at the 2007 World Amateur Boxing Championships and competed for his native Ukraine at the 2008 Olympics. Then “The Technician” went 23-1 in the World Series of Boxing, a professional-style competition that allows boxers to maintain Olympic eligibility.

“The desire to finish any bout early is always present,” Derevyanchenko said. “But Soliman is an experienced ex-world champion with an awkward style who has only been knocked out once (by Anthony Mundine in the ninth round of a 168-pound title fight in March 2007).”

For a complete overview of Derevyanchenko vs Soliman, visit our fight page.

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