Sergiy Derevyanchenko ready to achieve same dreams as Ali and Tyson

All Sergiy Derevyanchenko wanted to do growing up was to be a boxer. He and his father, who was also a boxer, watched all the major fights … and still do. But two guys stood out to Derevyanchenko more than anyone else.

“I’ve been boxing since I was a little kid,” Derevyanchenko told Sporting News through an interpreter. “I always admired Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali. They made me want to be a boxer and a world champion.” 

Ali and Tyson are arguably the biggest attractions in the history of the sport. Ali was known for his uncanny showmanship inside and outside the ring during a time that it was unheard of along with his superb boxing skills for a heavyweight. Tyson lured people in by using his ferocious power by knocking out opponents before you could even grab your refreshments. The Ukrainian didn’t fall in love with them for what they did inside the ring. It was the result of the work Ali and Tyson put in that Derevyanchenko is looking for.

“I watched Tyson and Ali get the fame and fortune of boxing,” Derevyanchenko said. “I wanted that, too, since I was a little kid. I watched them and know that was what I wanted to do and I’m going to do that now.”

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Derevyanchenko gets a chance to inch closer to those goals as he takes on Daniel Jacobs for the vacant IBF middleweight title on Saturday at the Hulu Theater inside Madison Square Garden (10 p.m. ET, HBO). The sanctioning body stripped Gennady Golovkin of the belt for not making a mandatory defense against Derevyanchenko in a timely manner.

World title opportunities are hard to come by for any fighter and Derevyanchenko plans to make the most of his shot.

The 32-year-old’s ring resume is impressive thus far. He is undefeated through 12 professional fights, 10 of which coming by knockout. The hard hitter is a 2008 Olympian and went a highly-impressive 390-20 in the amateur ranks, beating the likes of former WBO junior middleweight champion Zaurbek Baysangurov, former middleweight title challenger Matt Korobov and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Emilio Correa Jr. While grateful for the chance to be competing for a title, Derevyanchenko wants to people to remember one thing.

“I was the IBF No. 1 contender, not Danny,” Derevyanchenko explained. “It’s not like I was given this opportunity. I was the No. 1 contender. Danny was given the opportunity to fight me. He was the No. 2 contender for that belt. I worked hard my life to get to this point to get this world title fight. I can now make money to help out my family and I get to fight for the world championship. Remember, I was in the World Series of Boxing and I was 23-1 in that and [had] over 400 amateur fights. I’m ready for this.”

Derevyanchenko and Jacobs are no strangers to one another. They had over 300 rounds of sparring together and Jacobs’s manager Keith Connolly advises Derevyanchenko. And while Andre Rozier trains Jacobs and Gary Stark Jr. trains Derevyanchenko, both set of fighters and trainers are a part of the same boxing stable. Derevyanchenko says the times they did train together will help him out on Saturday night. But when it comes down to it, the man known as “The Technician” feels everything he has done up to this point will net him the first world championship of his career, while getting him closer to the benefits Ali and Tyson enjoyed when they became heavyweight champions of the world.

“My experience,” Derevyanchenko said about his path to victory. “I’ve been in there with the best guys all over the world. I’ve been in there with (undisputed cruiserweight champion) Oleksandr Usyk among many other good guys. I’ve been a fighter for so long and with someone like Danny, I’ll have to adjust my plan to whatever Danny has.”

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