Many folks were seeing this one as the consolation prize scrap, after Canelo threw that curveball and decided to try his luck at 175 instead of a thrill-o-gy. Not after 12 rounds of Gennadiy Golovkin and Sergey Derevyanchenko Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan combusted together and provided the likely fight of the year, as just about each and every round a nip and tuck rumble session.
Derevyanchenko went down in the first, replay showed it was a shot a bit behind the head, but he wouldn't be dissuaded from competing with all of his soul, he frequently had GGG backing up, and his combos were tight and voluminous.
GGG has that power but his foe had the mettle and an age age, being “just” 33, 34 on Oct. 31.
We'd go to the cards, after every damn round provided solid intrigue, and fingernails were being chewed to the quick.
After twelve rounds of FIGHTING, we won't call it high brow “pugilism,” the scores were heard: 114-113, 115-112, 115-112…and once again, the champion, GGG. The crowd took it in, some booed, the buzz didn't dissipate, this was a top tier collision and all in attendance were happy they'd chosen to enter the Mecca.
Boos rained down hard and long on the winner, as Chris Mannix interviewed him post fight. Mannix said he looked a bit winded at times, and people started up the booing again.
Here was what each man said after the bout:
GOLOVKIN: “I want to say thank you so much to my opponent. This was a great job. I respect his team. I told you, he’s a very tough guy. This is huge experience for me. Right now, I understand I need more. Focus is boxing. This was a tough fight. I need a little bit more. I need to still get stronger in my camp. Just more serious. I need to work hard. I need a little bit more focus.
“Right now it’s bad day for me, it’s a huge day for Sergiy, his team. This is huge experience for me. Right now I know what I need exactly. I lost a little bit of focus. Sergiy was ready, I really respect him. He showed me such a big heart. I told him, Sergiy, this is best fight for me. It’s a huge experience. It’s maximum destroy. I just respect his team.”
Would he agree to a rematch? “Absolutely. Big fight for DAZN, for the people, of course I’m ready. I’m a boxer, I’m ready for anything.”
Does he still want Canelo? “Absolutely, 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.”
“I feel great. Thank you so much to all my fans, everybody who came to MSG. Thank you to my team. I want to thank everybody,. It was a great night of boxing.”
How did the cut he endured Round 2 affect the rest of the fight? “The cut really changed the fight. I couldn’t see at times. And he was targeting the eye. But no excuses, it is what it is, I was trying my best.”
“When I started moving, I felt like I was giving him room and I was getting hit with those shots that he threw and that’s why I started taking the fight to him and getting closer and not giving him room to maneuver.”
“He hit me in the back of the head. He hit me behind the ear. I didn’t really see the punch but it didn’t really affect me that much. I got up and I wasn’t really hurt so I continued to fight, so it was nothing, nothing too bad.”
Rematch? “I would like the rematch if it’s possible, I’m ready.”
GGG came to the ring with a 39-1-1, a new man, of sorts, less inclined to grin and bear it with business partners or media. Derevyanchenko, now 13-2, from Ukraine–hey, where have I heard that name being bandied about?–wanted a belt that had belonged to Canelo, who gave it up involuntarily because the IBF sanctioning body wanted him to fight Derevyanchenko, their number one rated hitter.
It looked like it, as he ripped shots on Sergiy Derevyanchenko in the first, and a right hand chopper sent the Ukrainian to the mat? Behind the head? Yeah, behind the head, a lil bit.
In the second, Sergey started well, ripping to the body. He was peppy, active, bouncing, popping. A left hook cut him, though, right eye.
In the third, SD won the first two thirds, he was shooting from inside, smooth and sharp and tight. He had GGG on the defensive, and buzzed him, exciting his corner of Gary Stark Sr and Andre Rozier. GGG came back to take the last third, a right hand landed clean and wowed the crowd.
In round four, GGG came from underneath with mad power but Sergey threw more, had the volume edge, with tight combos. Blood from his nose, a cut that was behaving….but Sergey was very much in this fight.
In the fifth, GGG was getting backed up, again. GGG threw from underneath, he loved coming up. Sergey looked a bit fresher, maybe. A left hook the body seemed to hurt GGG, then the ref got in the way of a follow up. GGG's reddened left cheek was puffing.
In round six, another solid round for SD, but did the power of GGG get him the nod? SD would answer, even when getting whacked clean. Hard to score.
To round seven, we saw GGG advancing harder, and when SD backed up, he wasn't as effective. He moved forward, flurried, and landed a couple showy shots. The crowd was so loud they didn't hear the bell and kept rollicking. Yet another hard one to score.
To the eighth, we saw SD be the aggressor to start. He looked younger, fresher. The cut on SD was open again. It bothered him. Center ring, they banged to end the right. Nothing different, a tight round. GGG was more active and likely took it. To 9–an uppercut by GGG started the round, SD took the middle third and the final third, it was even up.
In the tenth, SD rocked GGG, would he stop him? Nah. He came back and hurt SD bad. Real bad…and then he roared back, a back and forth ensued and the crowd went ballistic. In 11, we saw SD throwing more and GGG come from underneath. To the 12th, we saw they were tired. Bless them. Another tight and classic round.
FOY, my friends.