Denys Berinchyk wins vacant belt in upset of Emanuel Navarrete

Denys Berinchyk put a bow on the greatest day in Ukrainian boxing history, upsetting Emanuel Navarrete by split decision on Saturday in San Diego to capture the vacant WBO lightweight championship.

It was not a pretty bow, as the fighters spent all 12 rounds in a dance full of awkward movement, wildly missed punches and little noticeable effect from either man's offense.

But the victory by 115-113, 116-112 and 112-116 scores made Berinchyk (19-0, 9 KOs) a world champion, the same status earned earlier in the day in Saudi Arabia by his 2011 world championships and 2012 Olympics teammate Oleksandr Usyk, who became the first undisputed heavyweight champion in nearly 25 years by defeating Tyson Fury.

Berinchyk's upset marked the third world championship won by a fighter from Ukraine in the past week. Vasiliy Lomachenko defeated George Kambosos Jr. for the vacant IBF lightweight title last Saturday in Australia.

Navarrete (38-2-1, 31 KOs), the WBO junior lightweight champ, was bidding for history of his own. He was looking to join an illustrious group of Mexican fighters who have reigned in four weight classes: Canelo Alvarez, Jorge Arce, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales and Leo Santa Cruz. Navarrete, who previously had the WBO belts at 122 and 126 pounds, owns the belt at 130 pounds and was trying to add one at 135 pounds.

But on this night, Navarrete was not the offensive juggernaut he'd been at lighter weights. Berinchyk threw more punches than him in all but one round, according to CompuBox. Navarrete's work rate was far lower than his average, and when he did land a power punch, it never had the devastating effect that it regularly did at 130, 126 or 122 pounds.

For Berinchyk, there could be big-money fights ahead. The other three 135-pound belts are worn by Lomachenko, Shakur Stevenson (WBC) and Gervonta "Tank" Davis (WBA). Asked which of those stars he'd prefer to face next, Berinchyk said, "I don't know. I don't give a f---."

Navarrete also expressed indecision after the bout. Asked if he planned to remain at lightweight or return to junior lightweight to defend his title, he said in Spanish through an interpreter, "I think I need to settle down a little bit, rewatch this fight, analyze what I did right, what I did wrong, what I can do with my team and how we can make it better. I don't want to make a rash decision right now."

After seeing a decade-long 34-fight unbeaten streak end, Navarrete did acknowledge one thing.

"You don't have to be a genius to know I need to improve my technique," he said.