After Canelo Alvarez dethroned Gennady Golovkin last year in a career defining win, a trilogy was not on the Mexican’s mind. It might have been on everyone else’s mind after that thrilling twelve round duel, but Canelo was adamant in demanding that Golovkin win a belt before he considered granting him another shot at middleweight supremacy. Well last night, the Kazakh fulfilled that pre-requisite against Sergiy “The Technician” Derevyanchenko, but he gave every last ounce of himself to pull it off. The question on everyone’s mind now is, did Golovkin earn the right to cash out against Canelo?
At age 37, it is well understood that time is of the essence for a man who was once considered the most feared fighter in the sport. Fans have noticed this decline for years now, as the same Kazakh thunder that once stormed through the middleweight division with a fearsome 23-fight KO streak has been increasingly less frightful in the last three years. On the other hand, GGG has been fighting increasingly high level opposition, and has adapted by exchanging signature knockout performances for surgical tactical outings, as he showed against the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Danny Jacobs. This was not the case against Derevyanchenko, however, as both the fury and finesse appeared missing from Golovkin’s vaunted repertoire.
Let it be known that last night was definitely not as much about what Golovkin wasn’t as it was about what Derevyanchenko was. The Ukrainian, who came in a four-and-a-half to one underdog, stole the show with a tremendously spirited effort over twelve rounds, surviving a grotesque cut over his right eye in the second round to land more power punches on Golovkin than any other fighter has throughout GGG’s forty-two fight career. “The Technician” got off the canvas in the first round and pushed the fight from there on out, backing Golovkin up, outworking GGG, and ripping his body like no other man had ever done before.
Derevyanchenko even became the first fighter in recent years to have GGG seemingly on the verge of some serious trouble, clearly hurting Golovkin with a left hook to the body in the fifth round. Perhaps the most unusual occurrence of last night’s barnburner was the immediate aftermath, as Derevyanchenko’s performance inspired the Madison Square Garden crowd to boo long-time fan-favorite Golovkin after the decision was announced, which went GGG’s way by narrow margins of 114-113 and 115-112 (twice).
But all’s well that ends well, right? Golovkin is a middleweight titlist once again and a seemingly logical pick for Canelo, especially given the vulnerability he showed. Historically, Canelo and Golden Boy have been the most eager to take on Golovkin when he appears the most human, having once infamously relinquished a title to avoid facing a prime GGG in the past. Well, by that logic, what better time to take him on then right now? If anything, the biggest weapon Golovkin used to his success against Canelo last September was the jab, which was largely devoid from his arsenal against Derevyanchenko. “The Technician” also appeared to take a page out of Canelo’s blueprint by backing up Golovkin consistently, an approach that paid great dividends for Alvarez in his last encounter with GGG.
Unfortunately for Derevyanchenko, this would mark the second time he narrowly lost out on seizing the IBF title after giving his all against an elite level fighter. Last October, Derevyanchenko came up short against Danny Jacobs after getting off the deck to give “The Miracle Man” all he could handle. Some fighters are simply victims of a great era, as was Bennie Briscoe, one of the great middleweights to never win a title. Others are a victim of circumstance. And some are both, as “The Technician” could easily be middleweight champion today had he been a bit luckier on the scorecards against Jacobs and GGG, two of the best middleweights of this era. With only fifteen fights, Derevyanchenko still has plenty of room for improvement under the tutelage of Andre Rozier. However, at age 33 and with over 400 amateur fights, just how much improvement Derevyanchenko can actually realize remains to be seen.
So what should we expect from GGG in the twilight of his career? Regardless of the trajectory his career takes, we can be sure to expect a “big drama show”. Always intent on giving fans their money’s worth, Gennadiy will be exciting until the end, but he clearly needs to be careful with who he gets in the ring with at this stage. A unification with WBO champion Demetrius Andrade should be flagged as a non-starter by team GGG, a fight which could arguably spoil a third big money showdown with Canelo. In fact, anyone but Canelo is a risk that DAZN and team GGG might not be willing to take, especially given the fact that Golovkin has little else to prove in his illustrative career besides showing the world he can officially best his long-time rival. Golovkin has stated that he has little intention on making a permanent move up to 168, and given the fact that he recently migrated to DAZN, a fight with Jermall Charlo is unlikely to materialize.
But in his usual fashion, Gennadiy asserted he is still eager to take on all comers, whether it be advisable or not. “Absolutely, I still want Canelo. I’m just open to anybody. There are so many great champions here. Sergiy, a lot of guys. Everything is ready, just call Canelo. If he says yes, let’s do it.” Golovkin also stated that he is amenable to a rematch with Derevyanchenko. “Rematch? Absolutely,” he said. “Big fight for DAZN, for the people, of course I’m ready. I’m a boxer, I’m ready for anything.”
But the primrose path has been paved for Canelo vs Golovkin III, a fight which might arguably produce more drama than the two predecessors. As Pacquiao-Marquez IV and Ali-Frazier III showed us, with age comes drama, especially given as honest a fighter as Gennadiy Golovkin is. Let’s just hope such a great warrior gets the proper ending he deserves: a multi-million dollar finale against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.