By Paul Magno | October 07, 2019

So, I guess being the A-side and getting the benefit of the doubt on judges’ scorecards in a close, tightly-contested bout is not so dishonorable and cowardly after all. 

On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York, Gennady Golovkin got over Sergiy Derevyanchenko what Saul “Canelo” Alvarez got over him—a couple of close rounds nudged in his favor to affect the outcome, perhaps subconsciously, for being the “star” of the show. And I sure as hell don’t see Golovkin or anyone on his team rushing to denounce his “favored son” decision as they’ve been trying to do, non-stop, with Canelo’s draw and win over him in 2017 and 2018, respectively. 

On the official judges’ scorecards, Golovkin won a unanimous decision by scores of 115-112 (twice) and 114-113 to take the vacant IBF middleweight title—a final tally that drew loud boos from a very partisan pro-Golovkin crowd. 

Derevyanchenko fought a brilliantly tough battle, overcoming a flash knockdown in the first round and an ugly (and expanding) cut over his right eye in the second, to push the heavily favored former three-belt champ to the point of near exhaustion and almost notch an Upset of the Year runner-up to Ruiz TKO7 Joshua. 

Over at my other gig on, I wrote of Derevyanchenko being “the wrong fight at the wrong time” for Golovkin and that “the stars have aligned to make everything just right for a shocker.” Basically, we were seeing a “37-year-old star, in the second fight of a lucrative multi-fight contract, possibly jaded from success and money, with an eye on superstar-level blockbusters, fighting a fight he doesn’t want to be in, just for the sake of acquiring a belt, against a hungry opponent who, by nature, keeps coming forward no matter what.”

There was bound to be a letdown for Golovkin in a fight that, for Derevyanchenko, was like the Super Bowl and Game 7 of the World Series all rolled into one. Throw in the fact that, stylistically, this always would’ve been a tough one for “Triple G” and, well, the writing was at least somewhat on the wall for a “big drama show” well beyond what Team Golovkin was anticipating.

But the Ukrainian’s fairy tale evening ended with a dose of harsh reality as the decision—as they are wont to do in boxing—went to the “money” fighter. 

“After getting hit in the back of the head and having a knockdown early, getting cut in the second round, bleeding like a stuck pig for eleven rounds, yet still putting Triple G through the most grueling, brutal fight of his career...I'm gutted for him,” Dereyyanchenko’s promoter Lou Dibella told after the bout. “Triple G's had all these opportunities to cement his legacy and prove his greatness and tonight was the night Sergiy's been waiting for his whole career and I think he rose to that moment...and I sorta think he got fucked.”

On the other side of things, promoter Eddie Hearn, who is in partnership with Golovkin through their workings with streaming service DAZN, tried to do some damage control for his guy.

“I hate saying it because it sounds like sour grapes,” Hearn told Fino Boxing, “but Gennady's been ill all week and he won't want to say anything because I know what he's like, but I think he deserves for the people to know what he had to go through to make the fight...He wasn't a 100% going in.”

Hearn would also pull back from committing to a rematch, telling reporters that Canelo Alvarez is still the ultimate goal and IBF mandatory Kamil Szeremeta could likely be on deck if GGG-Canelo 3 doesn’t come through. He also shoved Demetrius Andrade (who stormed the ring post-fight to call Golovkin out), Callum Smith, and Billy Joe Saunders into cue ahead of Derevyanchenko while acknowledging that Derevyanchenko would “probably not” get a rematch if he had his druthers. 

“When you get away with one and you know you're not likely a second time,” Dibella told media. “I understand. Eddie's talking as a promoter, as a guy who wants to protect him.”

Golovkin, himself, teetered on the fence after the battle that would send both him and his opponent to the hospital, telling the world in his post-fight interview "Rematch? Absolutely. Big fight for DAZN, for the people, of course I’m ready,” but then tossing Derevyanchenko back into the non-Canelo stack of possible opposition. “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.”

From a pure entertainment perspective, fans got a fun evening with a well-fought, tightly-contested battle. But business is always business in boxing and, in the end, the business again erred on the side of the “money” fighter. If even one close round on each scorecard went to Golovkin rather than Derevyanchenko because the judges’ eyes were more on what the star was doing than what the underdog was doing, that would’ve made the difference between a unanimous Golovkin win and a draw. 

But, hey, it’s boxing, right? 

I just don’t want to hear Golovkin complaining about the judges in the Canelo fights anymore. He got the star treatment in this one (and in the Daniel Jacobs fight, which was also supremely close). Even-Steven. Again, business is business. 

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