Jermall Charlo defeated Sergey Derevyanchenko by unanimous decision on Saturday to retain his WBC middleweight crown.
The 30-year-old American champion overcame stubborn resistance from the Ukrainian challenger to extend his unbeaten record to 31 fights at a spectator-less Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Charlo, whose twin brother and fellow world champion Jermell fought on the same card later on Saturday, was pushed all the way by Derevyanchenko, who fell to 13-3 with the defeat.
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Derevyanchenko, bleeding from cuts around both eyes, launched a furious late onslaught in the 12th round as he chased a knockout.
But Charlo, leading comfortably on points, had too much savvy to let victory slip and closed out a third defense of his WBC belt.
The three judges scored Charlo a convincing winner, handing the champion victory by margins of 116-112, 117-111 and 118-110.
“I executed the game plan. It was the biggest test of my career and I passed test,” Charlo said. “I knew he was going to be tough, and I knew he was going to come to fight.
“I wanted to knock him out and make a statement. But getting through it and getting the decision was a statement in itself.”
It was another disappointing defeat for the stocky Derevyanchenko, who had lost two previous world title fights including a disputed decision against Gennadiy Golovkin in October last year.
Charlo was in control of the fight early on, using his superior height and reach to establish dominance with his jab to score consistently.
Derevyanchenko was in trouble at the end of the third round, when Charlo rocked him with a right hand and followed up with a left hook.
Derevyanchenko’s knees buckled but the Ukrainian somehow managed to avoid going down and made it to the bell.
With Charlo opening a cut over Derevyanchenko’s right eye in the fifth, the challenger came inside and enjoyed a good spell in the middle rounds, landing a crisp combination in the seventh round.
But Charlo asserted himself in the closing rounds, dictating distance and tempo and ultimately cruising to victory.
In other early card action on Saturday, John Riel Casimero of the Philippines made a successful first defence of his WBO bantamweight crown on Saturday, knocking out Ghana’s Duke Micah in the third round of their title fight in Connecticut.
WBA regular super bantamweight champion Brandon Figueroa meanwhile had too much class and power against Damien Vazquez.
Figueroa won by 10th round stoppage against a badly cut and bruised Vazquez.
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