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In the three years since he vacated his 154-pound title and moved up to middleweight, Jermall Charlo has chased the recognition of being considered the best in the world at his weight class, which can only come by defeating the truly elite. 

Despite scoring a trio of impressive knockouts and even capturing the WBC title through five appearances at 160 pounds, Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) had largely been a population of one on his own middleweight island. Any cries or callouts for the best in the world at his division to come face him largely fell on deaf ears because of his standing on the wrong side of the street within boxing’s promotional and political sphere. 

What didn’t help was that in Charlo’s most critically acclaimed bout to date (in terms of his opponent’s standing — a 2018 title defense against former champion Matvey Korobov) he ended it with a decision some felt Korobov should’ve won. 

Yet as he enters the biggest and most difficult fight of his career on Saturday (Showtime PPV, 7 p.m. ET) against former two-time title challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs), Charlo finally gets a shot to quiet all the extraneous talk about how good he is or how his resume compares by defeating a fighter who might be the best kept secret in the entire sport. 

“Fighters like Canelo [Alvarez], [Daniel] Jacobs, [Gennadiy] Golovkin; all those fighters on the big stage, I’ll be there soon,” Charlo said. “Hopefully, a victory over Derevyanchenko will open up the eyes of the division and they’ll get a chance to see who the real deal is. I’m coming. 

“No fighter Jermall Charlo fights will ever be the same after we fight. Derevyanchenko wants to be a big bully but if he doesn’t step back, we are going to fight fire with fire.”

Respect box? Subscribe to our podcast — State of Combat with Brian Campbell — where we take an in-depth look at the world of boxing each week, including a complete breakdown of Showtime’s PPV doubleheader with Rafe Bartholomew below.

While Charlo’s impressive combination of size, speed, power and athleticism has long helped him pass the eye test as a fighter poised for stardom, the challenge that Derevyanchenko brings as a tough, crafty and aggressive fighter is one he has needed all along. 

Derevyanchenko, a 34-year-old Ukranian with a decorated amateur background, pushed both Jacobs and Golovkin to the limit in recent years despite coming up short in close decisions. While his split-decision defeat to Jacobs felt deserved during a close fight in which Derevyanchenko was dropped early, his ability to rally back to hurt Golovkin in their all-action brawl seemed like it was deserving of the judges’ nod. 

“Derevyanchenko is a come-forward fighter. He’s going to bring a lot of power and speed with good technical skills,” Charlo said. “He calls himself ‘The Technician’ but we’ll see how technical he is once I start putting my jab in his face. I’m going to use all my natural skills in this fight.”

Charlo will co-headline this weekend’s pay-per-view card along with his 30-year-old twin brother Jermell, who faces fellow junior middleweight champion Jeison Rosario in a unification. But one thing Jermall, the older brother by one minute, has stressed throughout the build that he and his brother might not be long for the game after all. 

With a growing business outside the ring throughout their #LionsOnly branding, Charlo knows it’s time to make the career-defining fights now while he’s in his physical prime and believes Derevyanchenko will be his ticket to get there regardless of promotional entanglements. 

“After I win this fight, the sky is the limit. I know people will respect me a lot more after this,” Charlo said. “This fight is another big stepping stone toward even bigger fights to come. I’m telling those other middleweights to buckle your seatbelts. It’s lift off. Everyone that doubted me, everyone who wants a chance, you’ll get your turn. I’m running the show. You just stay locked in.

“We don’t have too much longer to be doing this. Where are the rest of the belts at? I’m ready. Watch me Saturday night because I’m making this statement loud for everyone who doubted me.”



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South Africa v England, 2nd T20I, Paarl

Eoin Morgan credited England’s experience of holding their nerve in close games as a key factor behind their four-wicket win in Paarl.

For the second game in succession, England clinched a last-over victory after South Africa had appeared to be in the stronger position deep into the run-chase. It gives them an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

But although it looked in both games as if England were falling behind their required run-rate, Morgan suggested there were deep reserves of confidence in the dressing room that enabled them to sustain belief even under pressure.

While England have rarely played anything like a full-strength T20 side since the 2016 T20 World Cup, they have enjoyed great success in 50-over cricket utilising a squad with the same nucleus of players. Over the last four or five years, they went to No. 1 in the ODI rankings before sealing their legacy “by the barest of margins” in the 50-over World Cup final.

At the same time, more of their players have gained experience in the top T20 leagues – there were 10 England-qualified players at this year’s IPL – providing them with greater familiarity of the pressures that come with playing on the biggest stages.

“The experience helps,” Morgan told Sky Sports. “Knowing how to win is one thing, but having that experience in our playing XI helps massively. Having been there before, we can hold our nerve.

“We weren’t up with the run-rate but, with a long batting line-up and a short boundary, you’re only one over or two maximums away [from catching up] the whole time. We have guys who can hit boundaries down the order.”

Dawid Malan made a similar point. Malan claimed the player of the match award for his well-paced half-century in a relatively low-scoring match and afterwards expressed the view that England’s experience in white-ball cricket should bode well for their T20 World Cup campaign in India next year.

“The core of the team has played together for the last five years,” Malan said. “They won that World Cup, they have experience of playing white-ball cricket, they play in the IPL and other big tournaments. They’re used to playing on the big stage and getting over the line. That’s a great habit to have as a team.

“There are so many match-winners in that side. If you look at the batting line-up, everyone can win you a game.”

On this occasion – as so often in his recent rise to the No,1 T20I ranking – it was Malan who won the contest, largely by keeping faith in his ability to catch up later in the innings after a tricky start to England’s run-chase, particularly against the wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi. With five overs remaining, he had made 25 from 30 balls but then turned up the tempo to crack 30 from his final 10.

“I found it really hard,” Malan said. “Especially against the spinners. You’re not used to them bowling that slowly in T20 cricket and, with a big boundary to one side and the wind, it wasn’t really an option to take them on.

“But with the short boundary on one side, you back yourself to be able to catch up. You’re always one over from catching up.

ALSO READ: Jason Roy’s spin struggle could prove test of Eoin Morgan’s loyalty

“The core of the team that played in the 50-over World Cup are well-versed in winning. If we can keep winning these tight games, it will put us in good stead ahead of the T20 World Cup.”

The match also represented something of a happy homecoming for Malan. While he was born in Surrey, he was brought up and schooled in Paarl. He made his debut in first-class and List A cricket on this very ground in 2006 and his parents still live in the area.

“I made my first-class debut here,” he said, “so it’s nice to come home and win a game for England.

“Funnily enough, when I was fielding on one side of the ground, my high school coach was one of the guys throwing the ball back. And there was a guy the stands who helps me out by throwing me balls when I come back to South Africa and visit my parents. So there were two guys who have played quite a big role in my cricket at the ground in some capacity.

“It would have been fantastic to get a crowd in. And it would have been nice to have my parents here.”

Both Morgan and Malan also praised England’s bowlers who restricted South Africa to a total Morgan described as “a long way under par”.

“Our bowlers set that game up for us,” Malan said. “And because they set it up, we could take a bit of time.”

“Everyone in the changing room will applaud the bowling unit which helped keep South Africa to a total that was a long way under par,” Morgan said. “Everyone contributed and the wickets were shared around. The bowlers did an excellent job.”

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Recent Match Report – New Zealand vs West Indies 2nd T20I 2020

Toss West Indies chose to bowl vs New Zealand

Grey skies greeted both teams at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui — with showers in the earlier part of the morning delaying the start of play by 15 minutes, and the toss by 25 — as West Indies captain Kieron Pollard handed a T20I debut to allrounder Kyle Mayers, replacing Kesrick Williams from the team that played the first match on Friday.

New Zealand effected one change as well, with leg spinner Ish Sodhi replacing Hamish Bennett. Sodhi has taken 10 wickets in T20Is at the Bay Oval, more than any other bowler, and joins compatriot Trent Boult (9) and Rubel Hossain of Bangladesh (6) among the three bowlers with more than five wickets at this venue.

New Zealand had won the first T20I in Auckland by 5 wickets, chasing a DLS-adjusted target of 176 in 16 overs, after West Indies put up 180 for 7 off their 16 overs, shortened from the original 20 after three rain interruptions, the last of which took place after they had reached 96 for 5 off 10 overs.

New Zealand: 1 Tim Seifert (wk), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Glenn Phillips, 4 Devon Conway, 5 Ross Taylor, 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Tim Southee (capt), 9 Kyle Jamieson, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Ish Sodhi

West Indies: 1 Andre Fletcher, 2 Brandon King, 3 Shimron Hetmyer, 4 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 5 Kieron Pollard (capt), 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Fabian Allen, 8 Kyle Mayers, 9 Keemo Paul, 10 Oshane Thomas, 11 Sheldon Cottrell

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Texas Tech levels score with Oklahoma State, 14-14, thanks to SaRodorick Thompson’s second TD of the day

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