Middleweight Sergiy Derevyanchenko came awfully close to winning his first word title a year ago, but suffered a split decision loss to Daniel Jacobs. Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10 KOs) gets a second opportunity when he faces Gennadiy Golovkin for the vacant IBF world title in what is by far the most important fight of his career.
Solid, strong and steady is the best way to describe Derevyanchenko. The 33-year-old Ukrainian is ranked sixth in ESPN's middleweight rankings.
Here are a few things you may not know about Derevyanchenko.
1. His father, Viacheslav, introduced him to boxing. "My father was never my trainer, but my father liked to box; he was actually a very good boxer. One day I said I wanted to be a boxer, also. So he took me to his trainer, Sergiy Korchynskyy, and that was my first trainer."
2. He was an amateur teammate of Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk and Oleksandr Gvozdyk: On his way to having an amateur mark of 390-20, which included him representing his country in the 2008 Olympic Games in China, and a 23-1 mark in the World Series of Boxing, Derevyanchenko was part of a monster Ukrainian national team that included Lomachenko (unified lightweight champion), Usyk (former undisputed cruiserweight champion) and Gvozdyk (light heavyweight world titleholder).
"What I remember most is a lot of positive vibes, we were always helping each other, everyone was trying to motivate one another and just the work ethic from everyone," recalled Derevyanchenko. "We all worked really, really hard at our craft. That was inspiring to me."
3. He sparred with Lomachenko, Usyk and Gvozdyk.: "We went all out, we didn't take it easy on each other," he says. "We wanted to help each other and challenge each other. In the end we knew we would all make each other better."
4. He fought Usyk as an amateur: "I fought him twice," he says, "I beat him once, and he beat me another time. It was a long time ago, I don't remember the details, but I do recall that they were very tough fights."
5. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. "I moved there in 2014, which was the same time as my professional debut. I love living in America and I love Brooklyn. It has a lot of different neighborhoods that I enjoy. The streets are also very clean, and they have good boxing gyms and really good sparring partners," said Derevyanchenko, who resides in the Bergen Beach area of the borough.
"The plan, right now, is to stay here while my career is moving forward."
6. His nickname is "The Technician." He got this moniker for his strict adherence in mastering the fundamentals of boxing. From the day Derevyanchenko started working with trainer Andre Rozier, he was a perfectionist.
"He worked over and over to ensure he got everything I was teaching him," said Rozier. "To this day in the gym, he wants to perfect everything I teach him."
"When I first came to the United States, I was training with Andre Rozier and Gary Stark Sr., I just wanted to do everything the right way, I really wanted to be technically sound, that was my mission,'' he explained. "And in the gym everybody started calling me 'The Technician', because of me always wanting to be technically sound."
7. He has his trainer back. It was a bit of an awkward situation as he faced Jacobs, who he had trained alongside for a few years as they were in the same camp. For that fight, Rozier, was in Jacobs' corner, while Stark Sr. worked his. Now, Rozier is back with Derevyanchenko.
"I feel great about it," said Derevyanchenko, who will have both men in his corner on Saturday night. "[Rozier's] work and his teachings are very important and it was definitely missed when I didn't have him. Now that I have him back in the corner for this training camp, I feel like all the pieces have meshed back together."