The perception of Gennadiy Golovkin today has been entirely shaped by six faceless men and women, the judges who presided over his two defining fights with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. This is the fate that cannot be avoided, even by the premier knockout artist of his generation, a man for whom the sound of the final bell was a distant memory.

The record books say that Golovkin did not win either of his fights with Canelo, and so he has been forced to make do with the widespread notion that he sits outside of the small handful of the world’s true elites, where his great rival, plus Vasiliy Lomachenko, Terence Crawford, et al lurk. He continues to smile bravely, but begrudgingly.

That idea burns Golovkin, who maintains, with some justification, that he deserved the nod in both the draw and the defeat to Canelo. On Saturday night he returns, still in pursuit of greatness, against Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the vacant IBF title, live on Sky Sports.

🚨 ANNOUNCED! @GGGBoxing v Sergiy Derevyanchenko live on Sky Sports 💥🔥 @GGGBoxing bids to become a world middleweight champion again when he battles for the IBF belt on October 5th on Sky Sports 😄 pic.twitter.com/mP7cJnDpiB

— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) September 26, 2019

Gennadiy Golovkin believes he won both fights Gennadiy Golovkin believes he won both fights Gennadiy Golovkin believes he won both fights

Golovkin’s entire career built up to his mega-fights with Canelo, in each of the past two years. They were the dream match-ups that boxing fans demanded to crown a legitimate No 1 in a town that was not big enough for the two of them.

Even the promoter of this weekend’s opponent Derevyanchenko, Lou DiBella, thinks Golovkin was hard-done-by.

He said: “Anybody who knows anything about boxing knows that, at worst, when Canelo and GGG met it was 1-1. GGG has every reason to believe it was 2-0.”

The judges’ verdict that caused the most uproar was after the first fight in 2017, delivered by Adalaide Byrd – her 118-110 scorecard gave 10 out of 12 rounds to Canelo.

“Terrible, terrible,” said Golovkin who believes that scorecard cost him a place in history.

Canelo’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya even admitted it was too generous, saying: “The 118-110, I don’t understand, I really don’t.”

Byrd was temporarily stood down as a judge by the Nevada commission as a result, which Golovkin must have seen as an admission of guilt. Canelo later failed a drug test, which he blamed on contaminated meat, forcing a rematch to be postponed. The bad blood grew but Canelo won the decision in their second fight.

Golovkin is one of this era's most fearsome punchers Golovkin is one of this era's most fearsome punchers Golovkin is one of this era’s most fearsome punchers

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Billy Joe Saunders still wants to fight GGG

Billy Joe Saunders still wants to fight GGG

It took the Kazakhstan banger a 37-fight winning run to finally earn the major occasion and rewards that his growing reputation deserved, only to fall short according to the ringside officials. That is their job – only one of six combined judges scored either of the Canelo fights in his favour but debate continues to rage about the true winner.

Nothing can change Golovkin’s performances in those fights, which were memorable in their own right. The moment that he ate a monstrous Canelo overhand right on the side of the face but did not budge an inch became a viral internet clip.

A trilogy fight and an opportunity to readdress the two blips on his otherwise perfect record seems a million miles away, with Canelo first set to face Sergey Kovalev and making clear his disinterest in renewing his rivalry with Golovkin.

So what is left in Golovkin?

He is now 37, without a significant victory in two-and-a-half years, and has split with Abel Sanchez, the trainer who led him through the glory years where he became a formidable middleweight champion.

The warning signs are there.

Derevyanchenko will have noticed, too. He has been a quietly dangerous threat at 160lbs for some time – Golovkin was stripped of the IBF belt a year ago for refusing to fight him, and instead pursuing Canelo.

Ukraine’s Derevyanchenko, a former Olympic team-mate of Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk’s, instead slipped to his only career defeat against Daniel Jacobs (who Golovkin outpointed in 2017, representing the end to his 23-fight stoppage streak).

Golovkin has not been on the floor in 200 pro rounds plus a lengthy amateur career Golovkin has not been on the floor in 200 pro rounds plus a lengthy amateur career Golovkin has not been on the floor in 200 pro rounds plus a lengthy amateur career

The 2019 version of Golovkin is backed by promoter Eddie Hearn and a new trainer in Johnathon Banks, the protege of the Kronk Gym’s Emmanuel Steward and former overseer of Wladimir Klitschko.