Gennady Golovkin was awarded a close decision victory over Sergiy Derevyanchenko on Saturday night in a performance that was enough to keep GGG near the top of the middleweight division, but raised questions as to whether he’s still at the top of his game.

Gennady Golovkin Sergiy Derevyanchenko
Gennady Golovkin (left) defeated Sergiy Derevyanchenko (right) by unanimous decision in a fiercely contested fight on Saturday. (Image: Steven Ryan/Getty)

The victory earned Golovkin both the IBF and IBO middleweight world titles, giving him his first championships since losing his belts to Canelo Alvarez in a majority decision last September.

GGG Gets Early Knockdown, Derevyanchenko Rallies

Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) started the fight at Madison Square Garden strong, dropping Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) in the first round. He then applied more pressure in the second round, opening a noticeable cut over the right eye.

From that point on, the fight was difficult to score, with Derevyanchenko relentlessly attacking GGG. Golovkin again looked to be the better fighter late in the bout, but when the bell sounded at the end of the 12th round, fans and reporters alike were split on who had actually won the fight.

Ultimately, Golovkin got the unanimous decision, with two judges giving him the bout 115-112, while the third scored it 114-113.

That result led some on social media to cry foul. But considering the fight was considered to be extremely close by just about everyone who watched it, this wasn’t another example of pure highway robbery in boxing – just the kind of controversy that comes with a sport that relies on judges to make decisions.

Both men were taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons after what had been a brutal fight. The bout was immediately hailed as a fight-of-the-year candidate, and Derevyanchenko’s team looked at the result as a win regardless of what the judges said.

“Sergiy proved he is one of the top middleweights in the world,” manager Keith Connolly said afterwards. “The crowd booed GGG and cheered Sergiy after the fight. There has to be a rematch if he doesn’t fight Canelo next. There is no other fight people will want to see.”

The consensus after the fight appeared to be that Derevyanchenko had certainly done enough to be considered one of the elite middleweights in boxing. ESPN’s Dan Rafael even moved Derevyanchenko up a spot in his world rankings list, putting him at No. 5 ahead of Daniel Jacobs, based solely on the strength of his performance in a losing effort.

Several Options for Top Middleweights

That’s no guarantee that Derevyanchenko will be getting a huge payday with either Golovkin or Alvarez anytime soon. Instead, there’s a fairly good chance that Alvarez and GGG will hook up one more time in 2020 to unify most of the major middleweight titles. Canelo will first fight Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) for a light heavyweight title in Las Vegas this November.

There are also two other major names in the middleweight division that will eventually get shots to make their name against GGG, Canelo, or perhaps Derevyanchenko, who now probably has the next highest profile in the division.

Undefeated Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs) has the WBO middleweight title, and is a tricky southpaw who can pose problems for anyone in the division. There’s also Jermall Charlo (29-0, 21 KOs), the WBC titleholder who is signed with Premier Boxing Champions – who could pose issues when it comes to getting a fight with Alvarez or Golovkin, both of whom have contracts with DAZN.

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