Since starting his own promotional company in 2000, Lou DiBella has developed champions such as Jermain Taylor, Andre Berto and Sergio Martinez. DiBella is now closely associated with boxing manager/advisor Al Haymon as he promotes many of Haymon’s PBC cards on the East Coast. And while the boxing media and a subset of the sport’s fans focus on all things Haymon-related, DiBella has been quietly restocking his pipeline with fighters from the former Soviet republics. Partnering with Max Alperovich and Alex Khanas of Fight Promotions, Inc., DiBella has unearthed a new generation of young talent that is poised to make his company strong over the next several years.
I ran into DiBella last month at a media event in New York and after talking about many of the high-profile aspects of boxing in which he’s involved, Lou took exception with how the boxing press has been covering his stable of fighters. Specifically, he believed that very little media attention was being given to some of his up-and-coming boxers, many of whom were international amateur stars and significant signings. And Lou had a fair point. Although many boxing fans have become familiar with his prospect Ievgen Khytrov and Avtandil Khurtsidze, who just upset rising middleweight Antoine Douglas earlier this year, very few are aware of this next generation under the DiBella banner.
Recently, Lou and I discussed five of his young fighters that he believes have a chance to become elite-level talents. Alperovich, who scouts the World Series of Boxing (WSB) for most of his professional signings, joined us on the call to give some background information about the fighters and what in particular about them grabbed his attention. The boxers are: Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Ivan Golub, Ivan Baranchyk, Radzhab Butaev and Sergey Lipinets. All except Lipinets have settled in Brooklyn, train under Andre Rozier and Gary Stark Sr., and are co-promoted by DiBella and Fight Promotions, Inc. Lipinets now fights out of California, is trained by Rodrigo Mosquera and is solely promoted by DiBella.
Overall, Lou is impressed by the quintet’s power but there’s more to the story than just heavy hands: “You can always beat a guy with one-dimensional power,” he said. “Boxing pedigree is really important too. All of these fighters are well-rounded in the ring but they all have punching power. In boxing and MMA today, this is the instant gratification generation. Punching power is what people want to see.”
DiBella and Alperovich also speak highly of the training that their Brooklyn fighters are receiving under Rozier’s and Stark’s tutelage. Sparring with the likes of Daniel Jacobs, Curtis Stevens, Marcus Browne, Khytrov, Khurtsidze and others, the gym competition is helping develop the four’s respective pro styles very quickly. And the transition from Eastern Europe to Brooklyn, which has very sizable populations of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants, has gone very smoothly for the young fighters. “If you’re from Russia or Ukraine,” said DiBella, “home away from home is Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Brooklyn.”
Below, I have scouting reports for each of the five fighters. I’ve included clips for each boxer as well as some biographical information. I’ll also share some specific opinions from Lou and Max about them.
Fighter: Sergiy Derevyanchenko
Nickname: The Technician
Record: 8-0, 6 KOs
Clip: Derevyanchenko vs. Campa
Profile: Derevyanchenko is the most advanced of DiBella’s five prospects. A 2008 Olympian from the Ukraine and a 2007 bronze medal winner at the World Amateur Championships, he also had over 300 amateur fights and a record of 23-1 in the World Series of Boxing. “The Technician” has been moved very fast as a pro, taking on trial horses such as Jessie Nicklow, Vladine Biosse and Elvin Ayala. He’s provided sparring for David Lemieux and is currently in camp with Joe Smith, Jr. (who fights Andrzej Fonfara later in June).
Strengths: Derevyanchenko has been compared to Gennady Golovkin and there are obvious similarities. Like GGG, Derevyanchenko cuts off the ring very well, has multiple knockout weapons and works the head and body with equal amounts of zeal. Derevyanchenko doesn’t have the same one-punch power that Golovkin does (DiBella says that he has A-minus punching power but A-plus boxing ability); however, his power is very good. He’s poised in the ring, puts punches together well and his movement is excellent.
Weaknesses: Also like GGG, Derevyanchenko isn’t an amazing pure athlete but he compensates with superior movement. One flaw of his is that he stays in the pocket too long after he throws combinations, “admiring his work.” He can be easily countered in these spots.
Promoter’s Take: Alperovich believes that Derevyanchenko was one of the most “technically perfect” amateur fighters that he’s ever seen. DiBella thinks that Derevyanchenko has the best pro style of the group. Even though Derevyanchenko has had only eight pro fights, DiBella is trying to arrange an IBF eliminator for his next fight. The bout would be for the organization's number-two position.
Fighter: Sergey Lipinets
Division: Junior Welterweight
Country: Russia, but born in Kazakhstan
Record: 9-0, 7 KOs
Clip: Lipinets vs. Rhodes
Profile: Unlike the other fighters in the group, Lipinets didn’t have an extensive amateur background. In fact, he was a kickboxing champion and only transitioned to boxing later in life. However, he’s been a quick study. DiBella has moved him very fast and Lipinets has jumped at opportunities for 50/50 bouts. Brought in as a “B-side” against Lydell Rhodes, Lipinets impressed in a mild upset victory. He’s also already headlined a smaller PBC card where he knocked out Levan Ghvamichava (also known as “The Wolf”).
Strengths: Heavy-handed, Lipinets is always looking for the knockout. He throws a variety of hard right hands (looping, overhand, hook and straight) and can be very creative with how he initiates offense. He has a constant motor and stalks opponents in the ring with intelligent pressure. Lipinets makes good adjustments as fights progress. He also doesn’t beat himself.
Weaknesses: He’s not a fluid combination puncher and he will rarely throw more than two shots in a sequence. His jab and left hook are both solid punches but he uses them inconsistently. He also overcommits with his shots, leaving himself frequently out-of-position. Lipinets could improve his accuracy.
Promoter’s Take: DiBella praises Lipinets’ natural instincts and ability. He also likes that Lipinets demands to face the best challenges. He is scheduled to return to FS1 in July.
Fighter: Ivan Baranchyk
Nickname: The Beast
Division: Junior Welterweight
Country: Belarus, but born in Russia
Record: 10-0, 9 KOs
Clip: Baranchyk vs. Thomas
Profile: A former police officer and member of the S.W.A.T. team in his native Belarus (DiBella quipped that Baranchyk was “literally a sharpshooter”), he was a former junior world champion. Baranchyk has the best natural power of any fighter in this group. He had an impressive first-round KO of Nicholas Givhan earlier in the year on ShoBox and also KO’ed former unbeaten prospect Shadi Shawareb in late 2015.
Strengths: His left hook and straight right hand are devastating punches. He also is a fluid combination puncher. A fairly good athlete, Baranchyk does an excellent job cutting the distance against an opponent.
Weaknesses: Still raw, Baranchyk sometimes rushes his work. He’s a wild swinger and can be overeager to go for the knockout.
Promoter’s Take: According to Alperovich, Baranchyk was tested at the gym for his punching power and the force of his punches equated to a heavyweight level. (Remember, Baranchyk fights at 140 lbs.) Right now, they are focusing on getting Baranchyk rounds; he’s never gone past four. DiBella has revealed that he’s had difficulty getting potential opponents to fight Baranchyk. One other factoid: the Oklahoma casino where Baranchyk scored his last knockout was so impressed with his performance that they want him back immediately for his next bout.
Fighter: Ivan Golub
Nickname: The Volk
Record: 11-0, 9 KOs
Clip: Golub vs. Mena
Profile: Another strong amateur boxer who was third at the world championships in 2009 and went 6-0 in the World Series of Boxing, Golub started his professional career at middleweight and has gradually come down to welterweight, where he will remain for the foreseeable future. Golub was knocked down in his last fight against Marlon Aguas but did score a stoppage in that bout.
Strengths: Golub might have the best jab of this group. He’s very patient in the ring and does a great job setting up shots and throwing combinations. He’s an accurate puncher who uses his jab to poke and probe for holes in an opponent’s defense.
Weakness: Golub isn’t exactly a plodder in the ring but he’s not a great athlete. Everything seems to be at one speed. He can be very predictable on offense, which gives an opponent the ability to time him or trade with him. His power may not play up at more advanced levels. To this point, his knockouts are more a function of superior punch placement and accuracy instead of sheer power.
Promoter’s Take: Alperovich admits that Golub wasn’t as advanced as some of the other prospects in the WSB but he’s been impressed with his learning curve. Finding the ideal weight for Golub was essential for his professional development. Neither Golub nor DiBella is concerned about Golub’s knockdown last fight, believing it was more of a momentary balance issue than a chin problem. He is scheduled to return in August.
Fighter: Radzhab Butaev
Nickname: The Python
Record: 2-0, 2 KOs
Clip: Butaev vs. Sadler
Profile: According to Alperovich, Butaev was caught up in boxing politics and wound up missing out on the Olympics in 2016. As a result, the fighter decided to turn pro. Butaev had over 300 amateur fights and was raised in the same village in Russia as light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev. Butaev comes from four generations of mercenaries and Special Forces. Relatives of his were Special Forces for the Czar.
Strengths: Butaev features wonderful punch placement and works the head and body like a seasoned professional. He’s a very fluid fighter and a good athlete. Already, he’s an excellent combination puncher.
Weaknesses: Too soon to tell.
Promoter’s Take: DiBella said that “his matchmakers are in love with Butaev” and that he “looks like a guy who has been a pro for five years.” He likes how Butaev takes control of the ring and mixes in feints. The goal is to get Butaev eight-rounders by the end of the year. His next fight should be in September.