Denys Berinchyk plans on making Saturday a banner day for Ukraine.

Oleksandr Usyk will kick things off by facing Tyson Fury for the undisputed heavyweight title in Saudi Arabia. 

Halfway around the world at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, Berinchyk (18-0, 9 KOs) will then take on Emanuel Navarrete (38-1-1, 31 KOs) for the vacant WBO lightweight title in a main event fight on ESPN.

Berinchyk, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, will be making his United States debut and is fighting for a world title for the first time in his nine-year pro career.

The former three-division titlist Navarrete will be making his lightweight debut. 

The last time Berinchyk graced the ring was in August as a fighter in the co-main event for Usyk’s knockout win against Daniel Dubois. Berinchyk scored a unanimous decision against Anthony Yigit during a hard-fought contest.

Berinchyk believes another clean sweep will be in session once his fight is done. 

“All of the Ukrainian people believe in me and Oleksandr, and we feel this. It's a very special moment for us,” Berynchyk told BoxingScene.

Berinchyk will have to overcome the -600 betting favorite Navarrete, who is promising a ferocious run for a title in a fourth different weight class.

The 36-year-old Berinchyk is confident (despite being a +400 betting underdog) because of Navarrete’s lackluster performance and majority draw against Robson Conceicao in November.

Navarrete dropped Conceicao twice and battled through an injury to his left hand, which ultimately required surgery. Navarrete’s ailment allowed Conceicao to outland him 213 to 116.

“This is my weight class, and I’ve been boxing at 135 pounds my entire career,” said Berinchyk. “I will be smarter than Navarrete and show him different styles.” 

Berinchyk has had to balance life as a boxer and a fighter on the battlefield because, like Usyk and several other Ukrainian boxers, Berinchyk has joined territorial defenses and frequently traveled to the front line during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over the last two years. When he’s not fighting for his country, Berinchyk wears military fatigues during his ring walks.

Berinchyk is looking to catapult his career with a win against Navarrete so that he can sit pretty in a glamor division that features titleholders such as Gervonta Davis (WBA), Shakur Stevenson (WBC) and Vasiliy Lomachenko (IBF).

Berinchyk made it clear that he has no hesitations in fighting his former Ukrainian amateur teammate Lomachenko, who is fresh off a dominant stoppage win against George Kambosos Jr. last Saturday.

Lomachenko has a complicated reputation among fellow Ukrainians nowadays, due to his stance on the war, and Berinchyk wants the honor of beating him in the ring. 

Berynchyk said he has not talked to Lomachenko for nearly four years and declined to further elaborate on the relationship.

“It's big money – nice,” said Berinchyk regarding fighting Lomachenko. “… And this money can be donated to the Ukrainian army. … But first we must do our work on May 18.”

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at] or via