Gennadiy Golovkin edged out Sergiy Derevyanchenko in New York to regain the IBF world title after an epic middleweight battle, keeping hopes alive of a trilogy fight with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
The Kazakh superstar was pushed to the brink by his Ukrainian counterpart and had to dig incredibly deep to take a 114-113 and 115-112 twice verdict after an enthralling toe-to-toe scrap at Madison Square Garden.
The victory sees Golovkin regain the vacant IBF belt and afterwards he reiterated his desire to meet great rival Alvarez for a third time.
‘GGG’ could not have wished to get off to a better start inside The Garden, dropping his man inside the first three minutes, Derevyanchenko suffering the same first-round fate that proved costly in his defeat to Daniel Jacobs just under a year ago.
Like he did in that 12-round blockbuster though, the Ukrainian resiliently came back firing, seemingly unnerved by the right hand to the temple that had sent him off balance.
Golovkin did remain on top and it seemed like business as usual for the man who prides himself on ‘big drama shows’, the fan’s favourite beginning to unleash devastating left hooks in the second, menacingly working off the jab to rattle his man flush, his younger foe quickly sustaining an awful cut – later ruled to be from a clash of heads – over his right eye.
With his back firmly against the wall, much of his face masked in blood, Derevyanchenko defiantly exploded out of his corner for the third as if his career precariously sat on the line, thudding home a barrage of body blows that had the iron-chinned ‘GGG’ suddenly wilting backwards, his elbows hanging low in clear discomfort.
A minute’s interval did little to alter proceedings, ‘The Technician’ remaining the aggressor for the next few, marauding forward to crash in one-twos, the Kazakh struggling to match that determined and high-intensity work rate.
After four, the ringside doctor took his first look at the Ukrainian’s worsening cut but decided the 33-year old could fight on and, despite eating a thunderous uppercut, Derevyanchenko again hammered home some beautiful combinations, a huge hook to the ribs causing damage.
The mid-rounds saw Golovkin finally fire back with his accustom heavy-handed artillery, the pound-for-pound rated star taking to the centre of the ring to meet his counterpart head-on, the pair gladly teeing off on each other, the back-and-forth battle raising the roof in New York.
Derevyanchenko, like ‘GGG’, was more than happy to play his part in the punishing exchanges, a short right cracking the iron chin of the tiring elder statesman in the eighth.