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What’s next for Gennadiy Golovkin? Canelo the target, but may not be the opponent

Gennadiy Golovkin isn’t getting any younger or any better. So what’s next for the Kazakh star?

Gennady Golovkin v Sergiy Derevyanchenko Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Without question, Gennadiy Golovkin’s win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden was one of the toughest fights of his career — in fact, it’s one of just four times he’s had any significant trouble at all in his 42 professional fights.

Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KO) dropped Derevyanchenko in the opening round and had a bloody gash as a target for his jab from the second round on, but he never dominated “The Technician,” escaping on scores of 114-113, 115-112, and 115-112.

There are questions from here about Golovkin. There are reports that he was sick during fight week, at least a little under the weather and not quite feeling like himself. They seem credible enough — it wasn’t hard to look at GGG when he got into the ring and see that he visually lacked a little spark on his face, looked a little tired. It was commented on then, before the action had started.

His gas tank didn’t seem to be on the usual level. He maybe didn’t have his usual booming power. But you have to credit Derevyanchenko, too. His work to Golovkin’s body clearly affected the Kazakh star, and he came forward and pushed a pace that made Golovkin work. Even if Golovkin wasn’t quite at his best physically due to sickness instead of age, Derevyanchenko read the situation and pushed the fight, taking Gennadiy out of his comfort zone and out-fighting him on the inside.

So where does GGG go next? There are still a lot of options. He’s got a big money deal with DAZN, and his fights are still events, even if his last two have lacked a lot of buzz going in.

Canelo Alvarez

Gennady Golovkin v Canelo Alvarez Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Let’s not beat around the bush or save this for later. The ultimate goal for Gennadiy Golovkin — and DAZN — is a third Canelo-GGG fight.

Their Sept. 2017 fight ended in a controversial draw, their Sept. 2018 fight in a controversial majority decision win for Canelo. There is still unfinished business between these two, but it’s also no longer the fight — at least on paper — that it was in 2017 and 2018.

If Canelo and Golovkin were to meet on Cinco de Mayo weekend next year, Alvarez would almost surely come in as the favorite. Not an enormous favorite, mind you, but I think the majority of fans would now favor the younger, fresher legs of Canelo.

Of course, we have to see what happens with Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KO) on Nov. 2, when he moves up to light heavyweight for a fight against the faded but still dangerous Sergey Kovalev. If he wins that fight, particularly if he manages to do so decisively, then Alvarez will have three (3) divisions in which he holds some version of a world title, and a lot of chances to do whatever the hell he wants. If he loses, then a return to middleweight would be the obvious move, but it could also lead to a Canelo-Kovalev rematch, depending on how the fight goes down.

Let’s say Alvarez wins against Kovalev. Yeah, he’d have the options at 175 — every light heavyweight would love a crack at him — and he’d have Callum Smith as a possibility at 168, and then middleweight would be there, too. And at middleweight, whether Alvarez likes it or not, Golovkin is still the biggest fight. In fact, Golovkin is probably still the biggest fight Alvarez can take after Kovalev, win or lose.

But then there’s this: Canelo Alvarez has indicated so far this year that he doesn’t really want to fight Gennadiy Golovkin again. In his mind, it seems, that’s business he’s dealt with already. Alvarez and Golovkin don’t like each other; they may not be at Barrera-Morales levels of hate, but there’s no love lost between the two. And with a guaranteed DAZN deal and no pay-per-view revenue to chop up, Canelo’s reasons to fight Golovkin are a lot less than they were back in 2017 and 2018.

That said, if the issue was that Canelo didn’t want to risk another fight with Golovkin, then maybe what we saw from GGG on Saturday will be enough to make Alvarez think the veteran is ripe for the picking. So while Alvarez has shown no real interest in facing Golovkin again, I certainly don’t rule it out. The time may be “right,” in Canelo’s eyes.

Demetrius Andrade

Demetrius Andrade v Artur Akavov Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Andrade (28-0, 17 KO) is DAZN’s “other” middleweight, holder of the WBO title, and someone they really want to make fans believe is a genuine star, or at least could be.

The 31-year-old Andrade isn’t really an attraction, though, for various reasons. For one thing, before linking up with Matchroom and DAZN, he had some promotional issues in his career that didn’t do him any favors. For another, he’s not the most blood-and-guts exciting fighter in the sport.

And for perhaps the biggest thing, he’s really good — without a lot of drawing power, he’s the sort of guy who is traditionally avoided by name fighters.

Andrade can box and isn’t easy to hit. Stylistically, he could be a real problem for anyone in the division, and since he doesn’t have any true marquee wins (despite winning titles in two divisions), it’s hard to promote how dangerous he could be before a fight, to convince the more casual public that, like, seriously, this guy is no bum.

Of all the options listed here, I honestly think Andrade is the least likely to face Golovkin next. An aging GGG with declining movement and speed of foot likely isn’t looking to chase Andrade around the ring trying to cut him off and cut him down. You can certainly argue that this is unfair, that Andrade deserves a chance against a top guy, but this isn’t like a normal sport where eventually you have to play someone difficult because they keep winning. In a situation like Andrade’s, stars are going to forever be reluctant to fight him.

Sergiy Derevyanchenko

Gennady Golovkin v Sergiy Derevyanchenko Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

If GGG can’t get Canelo again, the biggest fight for him might be running it back with Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KO).

For starters, it was a really good fight that probably wouldn’t be too tough to sell at MSG a second time. And there are at least some questions about the decision — not a robbery, in my view, but it absolutely could have gone the other way. There were a lot of swing rounds in that fight.

Derevyanchenko’s profile got a serious boost here, you have to think. He didn’t come in as a star, and he won’t leave as a true star, either, but a lot more people are going to be talking about him than ever before. This was his biggest fight and he impressed the pro-Golovkin crowd at MSG enough that plenty of them booed GGG during the post-fight interviews, feeling that Derevyanchenko deserved the victory.

Golovkin could also look at it as a chance to redeem a performance that wasn’t his best. If he truly was sick during the week and just not able to fight to a level he believes he’s still capable of, going in again with Derevyanchenko and trying to look like the old “Kazakh Thunder” might be worthwhile.

Again, this only becomes really viable for a next fight if Canelo-GGG III doesn’t happen. In fact, anything else is clearly secondary to the Canelo-GGG III idea.

Jermall Charlo

Jermall Charlo v Brandon Adams Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Charlo (29-0, 21 KO) is officially the WBC titleholder at 160, and adding a second belt surely would appeal to Golovkin if the hunt for the third Canelo fight continues past the next outing. Charlo isn’t an easy matchup by any means, but he’s a lot less tricky a fight than Andrade, who could also present GGG with a unification chance.

The problem here, as should be obvious, is that Charlo is a PBC fighter. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible — PBC sent Andy Ruiz Jr over for the first Joshua-Ruiz fight, and Derevyanchenko has PBC affiliation, too.

If PBC just see no way to get Charlo a good fight — and they are really limited in that hope at the moment — and they think that the time is right for him to take a crack at Golovkin, and Charlo actually wants the fight, it could be a possibility. It’s not likely, but it’s not hopeless, either. There are ways it could be worked out.

Other options

Boxing - Madison Square Garden Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Golovkin is 37. Maybe making 160 is getting tough for him, in which case a move to 168 could be in the cards at some point.

At 168, Matchroom and DAZN have both Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders. Smith (26-0, 19 KO) is a monster at the weight, standing 6’3” with a 78-inch reach, and he’s universally considered the top guy in the division. He also has the WBA title, so it would be a title fight for Golovkin. Smith is next out on Nov. 23, facing mandatory challenger John Ryder in Liverpool, a fight he’s definitely expected to win.

Saunders (28-0, 13 KO) is really a middleweight, but he does have the WBO belt at 168. He’s going to return Nov. 9 in Los Angeles on the KSI-Logan Paul event, opponent to be named. He’s talked a lot about fighting Golovkin over the years, but Golovkin has in the past dismissed those public challenges as being less than serious or genuine.

Either fight could be interesting. Smith is a big boy and can bang, and Saunders is a smart southpaw technician when he’s on his game, a terrific boxer.

Kamil Szeremeta or someone like that

Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KO) is a former European champion at 160 who gave up that belt in order to come over for his US debut last night, where he drilled an overmatched and undersized Oscar Cortes inside of two rounds. The 29-year-old Polish fighter was reportedly offered a fight with Golovkin earlier this year and turned it down, which led to the Steve Rolls fight for Golovkin’s DAZN debut.

Szeremeta is ranked highly by the IBF and was on last night’s card for a reason. If Golovkin and his team feel they need to do some fine-tuning in camp, a fight with someone considered less dangerous, Szeremeta or some other IBF-ranked “contender,” might be what they do. This isn’t the sort of fight fans want, but it can’t be ruled out.

So there are plenty of options, but the decision is really as much Canelo Alvarez’s as it is Golovkin’s. We know Gennadiy wants the third fight more than anything. He wanted it in September and Canelo didn’t want to do it. Maybe that will have changed, maybe not.

We won’t likely find out any time soon — at least not until sometime in November, after Canelo’s next fight — but we should have some kind of word by the end of 2019.

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