SAN DIEGO, Calif., October 6, 2019 – You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t picking former unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KOs) to win his fight on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
But he might not roll over Sergiy Derevyanchenko of Ukraine (13-1, 10 KOs) the way he did over Canadian Steve Rolls in four rounds in June. The way Golovkin wins will matter and determine what the final few years of his career might look like.
The IBF world middleweight title will be on the line that once belonged to Golovkin. It was stripped from Canelo Alvarez when he refused his mandatory challenger Dereyanchenko. Alvarez has said part of his reticence to fight Golovkin a third time is the lack of any titles at stake. So, there’s one checkbox to get out of the way.
To his credit, Golovkin is interested in discussing nearly any aspect of his career including his developing relationship with new trainer Johnathon Banks, and his own fledgling promotional organization which is starting to sign fighters like protégé Ali Akhmedov of Kazakhstan (15-0, 11 KOs) an impressive junior middleweight who will appear on Saturday’s undercard. Akhmedov is a power puncher with surgical precision. He chooses his punches and delivers with serious intentions. Remind you of anyone?
Golovkin getting down to business
In a meeting with boxing media in Los Angeles two weeks ago, Golovkin said, “No one promised me this would be easy. When I started in boxing ten years ago … Listen, I’m a professional. Nobody told me it would be easy to be a professional fighter. But that’s what I do.”
“Getting all those titles doesn’t really reflect the situation in boxing right now. To say I want these, I want that, it doesn’t reflect reality. Let’s talk about what reality is today. We’re talking about the IBF title, I’m very happy I can do that right now. The situation is, Canelo (Alvarez) refuses to fight. We were supposed to fight in September. But this is the situation I have right now … I have to be ready for everything, as you can see the last couple of years,” said Golovkin.
With less of his career ahead of him than behind him, Golovkin is doing the only thing he can do. It’s the same thing he’s been criticized for in the past: making the best fights possible with the available opponents. Taking the opportunity to win back one of his old titles and doing it on friendly ground in New York is GGG’s smartest move now.
As for Derevyanchenko
Derevyanchenko will give it his best, and he’s up for it. “Saturday night, I’m ready for rock and roll,” he said. The Ukrainian will get to rock all right – as in being rocked in the ring. He’s got some assets to work with, including trainer Andre Rozier who also trains Daniel Jacob, and knows a little something about GGG as an opponent.
With several more months of work training with Banks behind him, fans will get to see whether any changes are emerging in Golovkin’s style. It’s not likely to be anything major. At best, Banks may help Golovkin look at his current skill set in a new way, and strategize how to take out opponents now that he’s 37 years old.
Prediction: Golovkin by 10th round TKO
Golovkin doesn’t have the single bazooka punching power of his youth, but he still has plenty enough to get the job done. He’s always had one of the best stiff jabs in boxing, and like Sergey Kovalev, he is starting to realize its value. Golovkin made terrific use of the jab four years ago at MSG against David Lemieiux, delivering a slow motion beatdown. There’s no reason he can’t do the same against Derevyanchenko on Saturday.
Dereyanchenko’s last stoppage was two years ago against Tureano Johnson. The Ukrainian couldn’t put away Daniel Jacobs, a fighter who hung in tough with Golovkin but who also got knocked down by him. So Derevyanchenko and Jacobs slogged it out for a slow 12 round majority decision to Jacobs.
Our prediction: A Kazakh style thrashing via relentless pressure and punishment, with hard jabs and body shots adding up until Derevyanchenko needs to be put out of his misery. Golovkin by tenth round TKO.
With the modern version of a Big Drama Show, Golovkin can hit the refresh button on his career. He can do it with a dominant performance that’s not in doubt. He’s never been a guy interested in coasting. So now is the time for him to put in every bit of effort to look good. As a result, he can get a few new conversations started about him instead of fielding the same old questions.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities Digital News.
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