The middleweight contender is keeping his word and staying active, fighting for the second time in six months when he meets Jack Culcay in a 160-pound bout Saturday night on FS1.
The last time Sergiy Derevyanchenko appeared in the ring was October 2018, and in less than desirable circumstances, as he freely admits.
His opponent, after all, was none other than his chief sparring partner Daniel Jacobs, with whom he shares not only 200 simulated rounds, but a trainer, Andre Rozier, and a manager. The Ukrainian middleweight was more than willing to tolerate the awkwardness, given the high stakes: a career payday and a shot at the vacant IBF middleweight title.
The fight turned out as advertised, a competitive tussle that saw the shorter, stouter Derevyanchenko give the versatile Jacobs all he could handle. Ultimately, Derevyanchenko came up short in a split decision loss.
“It was a very close fight,” recalled Derevyanchenko, who bemoaned the flash knockdown he suffered in the first round. “I do not like to comment on the judging decisions. But I won the second half of the fight. If I could change something, I would just box, and not try to press as much.”
Adding that he was in optimum physical shape and felt strong and well-rested on fight night, the Brooklyn-based Derevyanchenko had few excuses for his loss to Jacobs. And yet leading up to that fight, Derevyanchenko had made it clear that he wished he could be fighting more. A quick look at his ledger would suggest that he has a point.
At 33 years of age and 13 fights under his belt, Derevyanchenko, 12-1 (10 KOs), is by no means anyone’s definition of an active fighter, even though as an amateur and a member of the 2008 Ukraine Olympic team, he had accrued more than 400 bouts.
But since entering the professional ranks in 2014, it has been a different story. Prior to fighting Jacobs, Derevyanchenko had fought only three times in a two-year span, which prompts one to wonder if a few more professional fights might have been the difference between losing a split decision to Jacobs and winning one.
“Activity is very important for me. I’m ready to fight four times this year,” Derevyanchenko stated.
On April 13, Derevyanchenko will square off against Peruvian-German contender Jack Culcay, 25-3 (13 KOs), in a 12-round middleweight bout on PBC on FS1 (10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT).
“ Activity is very important for me. I’m ready to fight four times this year. ” Middleweight Contender- Sergiy Derevyanchenko
It will be Derevyanchenko’s second fight in nearly six months, and perhaps a sign that he will be busier. Designated as an IBF eliminator, the winner of Derevyanchenko-Culcay will potentially be in line to face the winner of Saul Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs in May.
“I have already boxed with Jacobs, so I’m not interested fighting him again, but if I get a chance, I’ll gladly take my revenge,” said Derevyanchenko, who spent the first half of his training camp in Colorado Springs and the second half in New York. “But a fight with ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is more interesting to me.”
Such an alignment keeps Derevyanchenko in the mix at the top of the middleweight division, a fortunate outcome in his case, considering that the number of once-beaten contenders disappearing off the face of the earth runs as long as the White House security clearance list. In fact, Derevyanchenko believed the Jacobs fight was make-or-break for his career (“Maybe this is the last chance, maybe it is the one chance in my life.”)
However, his co-trainer Gary Stark begged to differ, claiming that a strong performance in and of itself could bolster his charge’s appeal. One loss, in other words, need not determine one’s fate. Stark’s intuition seems to have won out.
“Remember Sergiy fought in the (professional-styled tournament) World Series of Boxing,” Stark said. “He was 23-1 in that. He was a champion in seven rounds. You know he beat (unified cruiserweight champion heavyweight Oleksandr) Usyk in the amateurs? He beat (WBC light-heavyweight champion Oleskandr) Gvozdyk. He beat a lot of good dudes in the amateurs. He fought elite dudes. A 2008 Olympian. He has the resume to beat all of these guys in the pros.”
But first, Derevyanchenko will first have to defeat the scrappy Culcay, also 33, and whose only losses were against WBO middleweight titleholder Demetrius Andrade via close split decision and Maciej Sulecki in a 168-pound contest.
Culcay has since dropped back down to middleweight and won three straight. For a fighter whose career once appeared stonewalled, Derevyanchenko might be experiencing the first surges of momentum.
“I want to box with the best in my weight class and put on good fights,” said Derevyanchenko.
Expect another on Saturday night.
For a closer look at Sergiy Derevyanchenko, check out his fighter page.
- Sergiy Derevyanchenko