The debate as to whether or not there should be a third Gennadiy Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez fight may have been settled Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
In a thrilling and brutal, 12-round contest, Golovkin outgutted Sergiy Derevyanchenko to win a close, unanimous decision and the IBF middleweight title. The official scores were 114-113 and 115-112 twice for Golovkin, who is from Kazakhstan.
It would appear, though, that boxing needs a second Golovkin-Derevyanchenko fight far more than a third Glolovkin-Alvarez fight.
“It was a great fight but I don’t think the star won it,” said Lou DiBella, Derevyanchenko’s promoter. “Triple G didn’t deserve this decision, he didn’t win this fight. If you watched the fight, the most impressive moves were not Triple G’s. He got the star treatment.’
In the days leading up to this contest against Derevyanchenko, Golovkin promised he was not looking past his opponent, even as the specter of Alvarez loomed over the promotion. That may have been true, but it took a few rounds before Derevyanchenko got his attention.
A short, quick right hand dropped Derevyanchenko midway through the first round. Then in the second, a Golovkin left hook opened a nasty cut above Derevyanchenko’s right eye.
But by the fifth round, Derevyanchenko (13-2) was back in the fight. He pressured Golovkin (40-1-1) and his punches were sharper and crisper. The fight turned into a war of attrition. Derevyanchenko pressed the attack and Golovkin dug in to fight off the challenge.
Derevyanchenko, 33, rallied in the middle rounds behind an attack that featured a steady dose of right hands. All that as the cut above his right eye remained opened and dangerous. On two occasions, the ringside physician stepped in to examine the cut. He let the fight continue, much to the delight of the crowd.
Both men were landing freely as the fight headed into the championship rounds. Golovkin looked every bit a 36-year-old fighter, but somehow managed to turn the momentum back into his favor. He swept the final round on all three scorecards.
Derevyanchenko, from Brooklyn, via the Ukraine, is trained by Andre Rozier. In December of 2017, Rozier orchestrated Sadam Ali’s upset of Miguel Cotto in the same Garden ring. The Brooklyn-based trainer nearly knocked off another legend on Saturday.
“It was like the Gatti-Ward fights but fought at a much higher skill level,” said Di Bella. “Don’t you think the public wants a rematch?”
On the undercard, former IBF junior welterweight champion Ivan Baranchyk (20-1, 13 KOs) stopped Brooklyn’s Gabriel Bracero (25-4-1, 6 KOs) in the fourth round. Top-rated Irish amateur Joseph Ward (0-1) lost his pro debut when he suffered a knee injury in the second round and was stopped by Marco Delgado (6-1, 5 KO) in a scheduled six-round fight.