Yes, the old saying that a win in sports is indeed a win rang out more than ever for the newly crowned IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1) (35 KO’s). Ultimately that is the bottom line and most relevant detail that any prizefighter tends to worry about when a fight has concluded. However, there is another saying that tends to accompany the previous sports cliché, and that is sometimes it’s not just if you win, but how you look doing it. And it’s this second saying idiom that caught the attention of most ring side observers on Saturday night. After twelve brutal rounds of back and forth action, it was indeed Golovkin’s hand raised in victory. What was surprising is that for the first time in his career it was the effort of the other challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2) (10 KO’s) that grasped the hearts and minds of the crowd.
This notion was cemented when Golovkin started to address the crowd for his initial post fight interview moments after his name was announced as the victor. Boo’s rained down from the capacity crowd inside of the “Mecca” of boxing Madison Square Garden. Golovkin was clearly caught off guard by the reaction but handled it in stride by finishing his interview before both he and Derevyanchenko were escorted to a local hospital for precautionary measures. The reaction steamed from the fact that most of the crowd believed that it was Derevyanchenko who had done enough in the close contested battle to earn the victory.
Entering the fight, most of the narrative surrounding the fight dealt with the fact that Golovkin was frustrated with his inability to secure a third fight with reigning middleweight king Saul Alvarez. Derevyanchenko was best known for his close decision loss to Danny Jacobs last year inside of the smaller adjacent theater at the Garden. In the fight, Derevyanchenko pushed Jacobs to his limit and had moments in what turned out to be the first close decision loss in his first attempt to claim the IBF title.
After Derevyanchenko was dropped by Golovkin in the first round, it looked as if this version of the drama show was set to make it a statement victory. Derevyanchenko answered the ten count, and as he warmed up physically, started to find a rhythm that included landing powerful right hands that continuously rocked Golovkin’s head back. As the round started to pass, despite a deep cut over the right eye of Derevyanchenko caused by a huge left hook from Golovkin, it was clear to both fighters that they were involved in serious combat. With the fight reaching its conclusion, there was no shortage of drama as everyone inside of the arena rose to their feet in the final rounds, clearly aware that a single punch could alter the result.
With all three judges scoring the fight in favor of Golovkin (scores were 115-112 twice and 114-113), it was Derevyanchenko that became the sentimental victor for his valiant effort. Two factors could be the cause for the reaction of the crowd. One is that he indeed looked even better on this night than he did just a year ago in the fight with Jacobs. He clearly pushed Golovkin to the brink and even had him hurt in the middle rounds when he landed a vicious left hook to the body that caused Golovkin to move away and avoid further exchanges to escape the round.
The other factor could simply be that while Derevyanchenko did put forth a great performance, Golovkin looked like a shell of the dominate middleweight that fans and observers had become accustomed to watching. At the age of 37 and with a style of fighting that his former trainer famously dubbed “Mexican Style,” Golovkin looked a bit sluggish at times during the contest. During many of the rounds, it was Derevyanchenko that initiated the exchanges to start out the rounds. Golovkin, at times, seemed to be content with waiting for his turn to take control of the round by making an offensive push. Ironically, it would be the experience of Golovkin that would play a major role in the victory.
He understood when he was letting rounds slip away from his control. It was at these moments that he would turn on the offense and willingly exchange with Derevyanchenko, landing the harder punches to either put the round into question or to win them. What was noticeable was the fact that, unlike in the past with a prime Golovkin, this didn’t happen in every round. There were rounds when the applied pressure and constant punching, but the pure work-rate of Derevyanchenko was too much for Golovkin to overcome and he simply lost them. This is a credit to Derevyanchenko’s determination to be victorious just as much as the sands of time dripping towards the bottom of Golovkin’s career hour glass.
For the record, The Weigh-In had the fight scored 6 rounds to 6, but due to the knockdown in the first round the score wound up 114-113 in favor of Golovkin. It was indeed a close fight with the result in question as everyone inside of the arena awaited the scores to be announced. Once they were announced, it was understandable that many felt Derevyanchenko did enough to win. What should be focused on as well was the great performance from both fighters regardless of whom you thought was the victor.
With Golovkin now the winner of the IBF title, one must ask what’s next for the veteran champion? Well, with the fighter he still clearly wants a third crack at Canelo, who next month will aim to capture a portion of the light heavyweight crown. Canelo has made it clear that he has grown tired of the Golovkin narrative and has no interest in facing him for a third time soon.
It became a bit dis-concerning that DAZN released a social media poll for fan interest regarding the next opponent for Golovkin and it didn’t include a Derevyanchenko rematch. Alvarez’s response to what he witnessed was yet another reassurance from him that a third fight with Golovkin would result in all but a foregone conclusion in his favor. He even went as far as saying that he would stop Golovkin this time around. This leads me to believe that a possible third fight with Golovkin will depend on the result of Alvarez’s November attempt at history. Meanwhile, if there is any rematch that fans deserve before a third fight between Golovkin and Alverez, its for round 13 to take place between Golovkin and Derevyanchenko.
Notes from Ringside at the Garden:
Not much of note took place during the fights on the undercard. This fight card was a classic case of the promoter believing that everyone was going to get their money's worth from the main event. That it was a can’t miss fight that would provide all the entertainment that the paying audience could handle. This frame of thinking was confirmed since the crowd looked to be sparse in comparison to previous Golovkin fights at the Garden until it was time for the main event, and suddenly the arena was packed with a raucous crowd that was engaged from start to finish. Why shouldn’t they have been, since it was in fact a can’t miss main event.
One notable highlight on the undercard was the first bout on the main television portion on DAZN. Ivan Baranchyk (20-1) (13 KO’s) scored a mean fourth round stoppage of veteran Brooklyn native Gabriel Bracero (23-4-1) (6 KO’s). Baranchyk was impressive in his dismantling of the veteran in such lethal fashion that his promoter Lou DiBella walked around ringside telling anyone that would listen that he would be a world champion soon. When asked what was next for the challenger, DiBella stated “anyone that has the balls to get in the ring with him. What a war a fight (WBC champion) (Jose) Ramirez and him would be?”
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