By Gino Leroy @gino_____
Former unified middleweight king and pound for pound number one Gennadiy Golovkin returns to the ring on October 5th, taking on Sergiy Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden for the vacant IBF middleweight crown. After two mega-fights with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez resulting in a draw and split decision loss, GGG finds himself in a challenger’s position, albeit for a vacant title.
Golovkin (39-1-1) ruled the middleweight division for the best part of a decade and without doubt is a future hall of famer. Between 2008 and 2016 the destructive power puncher strung together 23 successive stoppage victories, picking up WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO titles on the way.
Following his first official career defeat to Canelo in 2018, GGG bounced back with a vicious 4th round knockout win over Steve Rolls in June. In classic Golovkin fashion, he applied educated pressure with his jab and whipped in hooks to head and body from different trajectories. In the post fight interview with DAZN, Golovkin said “I feel like a teenager”. Despite feeling youthful, the Kazakh is now 37 years old, and probably in the twilight of his illustrious career.
Quite simply, if we were to ask ourselves, “Does Golovkin have the ability to win another world title?” Judging on his last performance, you would have to say yes, absolutely. The evidence we have so far suggests he’s far from gun-shy, he’s still arguably the hardest puncher in the middleweight division and to this day has never been dropped.
At this stage it’s hard to know exactly how much, if anything, the two Canelo fights have taken out of GGG. Physically, Golovkin has not necessarily shown any signs of decline, he ate Canelo’s best shots for 24 rounds in total and demonstrated his chin is granite. Mentally, could the fact he has not officially defeated a proven world class operator since Danny Jacobs in 2017 play on his mind?
Derevyanchenko (13-1-0), 33 from Ukraine has only one blemish on his record, losing a close split decision to Danny Jacobs for the vacant IBF title back in October 2018. He holds victories over former IBF world champion Sam Soliman and current EBU middleweight champion Jack Culcay.
Coming from a generation of supremely talented countryman, Derevyanchenko’s rise through the professional ranks has possibly been overshadowed by the successes of Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk.
As an amateur in 2007, Derevyanchenko won a bronze medal at the World Championships, his greatest achievement to date. He represented his nation at the 2008 Olympic Games and compiled an impressive 390-20 record before switching to the paid ranks in 2014 at the age of 28.
Derevyanchenko clearly carries power having achieved 10 stoppages out of 13 wins, but perhaps not quite the same fluidity his compatriots are renowned for. The style he possesses is a testament to his extensive amateur career, typically setting a high pace from the offset, throwing straight arm shots and habitually bouncing up on his toes.
At the first official press conference in New York, Derevyanchenko warned Golovkin, saying “I know who he is, former champion of the world, one of the best in the world, but his time is coming to an end”
It’s an intriguing contest, they’re of similar build and on paper their styles should gel well. I expect plenty of leather to be thrown from the first bell and it’ll be fireworks while it lasts.
In what will be his first fight under the Matchroom Boxing banner, Golovkin will be coming to MSG with bad intentions. A dominant victory over a worthy contender in Derevyanchenko will aid his bid in luring Canelo Alvarez into a third fight, whilst putting the 160lbs and 168lbs divisions back on red alert.
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