Gennadiy Golovkin didn’t look much of anything like his old “Kazakh Thunder” self tonight against Sergiy Derevyanchenko, perhaps due to age or a fight week illness or just the fact that Derevyanchenko is really good. But in the end, Golovkin edged the scorecards and left Madison Square Garden once again holding a middleweight title, regaining the previously vacant IBF belt.
Golovkin won on scores of 114-113, 115-112, and 115-112. Bad Left Hook were split on two cards, with 114-113 scores for each man.
Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KO) falls to 0-2 in world title opportunities, but in both of those fights — this one and last October’s split decision loss to Daniel Jacobs — “The Technician” has proven he’s plenty capable at the very top levels of the 160-pound division. At 33, he’s not a young fighter, but he’ll remain a serious contender and a threat to anyone at this weight.
Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KO) was working his first serious fight with Johnathon Banks as his trainer, following June’s win over a grossly overmatched Steve Rolls. GGG’s vaunted jab was present, but lacked its usual effectiveness, partially owing to good body work from Derevyanchenko, who had Golovkin as winded and occasionally seemingly hurt as we’ve ever seen him.
Derevyanchenko boxed well from the outset, but he was dropped in the opening round with a shot that he later said he felt was behind the head. It was a delayed reaction and seemingly a loss of balance as much as anything, but it was counted.
The second round saw Derevyanchenko cut on the right eyebrow, a bad cut that his team handled very well, keeping him in the fight without it becoming too big of an issue. The cut was ruled to be caused by a headbutt, but DAZN cameras seemed to indicate it was from a Golovkin left hook.
The Ukrainian kept fighting well and it was clear by the fourth round that this was going to be no picnic for the favored star, GGG. By the end, the reaction to his victory was fairly muted, and he was booed somewhat in his post-fight interview, a rarity for Golovkin in general, but especially at his “second home” of Madison Square Garden.
It was a tough fight to score, with a lot of rounds that could’ve gone either way, and while the scores will be controversial, this was no robbery. It was a legitimately close, highly competitive physical war that two judges gave Golovkin seven rounds in, and another gave him six with the knockdown making the difference on that card.
“I told you, he is a very tough guy,” Golovkin said. “I think it was a bad day for me and a good day for Sergiy and his team.”
Asked what he needed to do going back to camp, Golovkin looked and sounded a bit unsure of himself for the first time, perhaps owing to the unfamiliarity of the boos from the audience.
“I need to work hard,” he said. “I need a little bit more focus.”
“The cut really changed the fight,” Derevyanchenko said. “I couldn’t see at times and he was targeting the eye, but it is what it is, no excuses. I was trying my best.”
Asked how and why he took the fight to Golovkin as much as he did, Derevyanchenko said it was an adjustment after the first few rounds.
“I felt like I was giving him room and I was getting hit with those looping shots that Golovkin throws,” he said. “That’s why I started taking the fight to him, getting close and not giving him room to maneuver.”
And of course, Derevyanchenko would do it again if that fight presented itself. “I would like the rematch. If it’s possible, I’m ready.”
For Golovkin, don’t expect any intent to fight Derevyanchenko again — not out of cowardice or anything, but because being entirely realistic, he’s 37 and his career is starting to wind down. He wants the biggest fights, and for him, that’s still a potential third bout with Canelo Alvarez.
“Everything’s ready. If Canelo says yes, let’s do it,” Golovkin said.
CompuBox saw Golovkin landing 243 of 720 (34%) total punches, and 136 of 314 (43%) of his power shots. Derevyanchenko connected on 230 of 738 (31%) total punches, and 183 of 472 (39%) power shots. Golovkin out-jabbed Derevyanchenko, 107 to 47, but Derevyanchenko had the edge in body shots, 50 to 22.