Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk’s half a decade-long wait for a shot at the WBO lightweight title is nearly over. 

Berinchyk, 18-0  (9 KOs) collides with Emanuel Navarrete for the vacant WBO belt at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California on May 18. Reigning super featherweight champion, Navarrete, makes his debut at 135 coming off a majority-decision draw with Robson Conceicao last November. Berinchyk defeated Anthony Yigit unanimously over 12 rounds in Wroclaw, Poland last August. 

The 35-year-old Ukrainian’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk said at last summer’s WBO convention: “This is already a small anniversary for me because this is my fifth year in a row that I am representing Berinchyk here recommending him for the mandatory position. I have asked Paco [Valcarcel] to nominate him as the fighter who has waited the longest possible time to get his shot. He defended the WBO international title nine times already in a row.” 

Krassyuk’s annual migration to the Caribbean for five long years has paid off as Berinchyk will fight on the same date as compatriot and K2 stablemate Oleksandr Usyk, who takes on Tyson Fury for the undisputed heavyweight title in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

“Yeah it’s great but I will not be able to be there sadly,” Krassyuk explained to BoxingScene. “Unfortunately it is in San Diego on the same day as Usyk’s fight with Fury. 

“It’s Navarrete’s first fight in the division for a world title because they made him a super champion at super featherweight, so he automatically gets a shot at the vacant lightweight title. Berinchyk [though] has really deserved his chance actually. He’s had to be very patient to get this chance. He’s already in the U.S. getting himself prepared. On the 18th of May we will see how good the former Olympic silver medalist is.”

Berinchyk and Navarrete headline the Top Rank promotion live on ESPN+. 

“I think it’s going to be a 12 rounder,” Krassyuk added. “I can see this one going the distance. Navarrete is strong, he is Mexican. He has no reverse gear. It will be a big night for Ukraine.”