While it looked like Gennady Golovkin was going to roll past Sergiy Derevyanchenko on Saturday when he dropped the Ukrainian in the first round, Derevyanchenko rose off the campus to bring the fight to GGG. Using a combination of aggressive pressure and consistent movement, Derevyanchenko won five rounds on two of the official scorecards and six rounds on the third, resulting in his losing a unanimous decision: 115-112, 115-112, 114-113.
Many journalists and boxing pundits believed Derevyanchenko deserved the decision, but the fight was extremely close and could certainly not be declared “a robbery,” outside of the hyperbolic chamber that is sports social media. Instead, while GGG won the fight there are now so many questions about his career and the choices he’s made recently.
The most obvious issue is his age. Golovkin is now 37 years old, Golovkin is now 37 years old, an age which boxing analyst Lee Wylie pointed out is older than Roy Jones was when he lost to Glen Johnson, Sugar Ray Leonard was when he lost to Terry Norris and Muhammad Ali was when he lost to Leon Spinks. While the longstanding idea is that power is the last thing to go, Golovkin was never a pure power puncher the way a guy like Julian Jackson was (look at how well he boxed against guys like David Lemieux and Canelo Alvarez) so it’s not like he could lose round after round, certain he’d end the fight with one big shot. As those who witnessed Roman Gonzalez’s demise will tell you, the difference between a pressure fighter who can make you miss and wear you out doing so and an old pressure fighter who needs to walk through shots to get to you is vast. So, GGG is old and not all that good anymore -- unless you believe Eddie Hearn. See, Hearn is telling anyone who will listen that the issue isn’t that GGG is 37; it’s that all week leading up to the fight he was suffering from an unspecified illness his team hid incredibly well. Why his handlers would hide the illness when the fight is on Dazn -- there were no PPV numbers to worry about -- is unclear, but Hearn is at least looking to sell you the illness angle. It’s interesting to compare this claim of illness, to the claims of a Golovkin illness that arose before the Kell Brook fight. These days, with GGG not looking great, Hearn is desperate for you to think GGG was sick all week. After Golovkin didn’t look as good as expected against Brook, Golovkin’s manager immediately shot down rumors of a GGG sickness as “stupid.”
Another issue that arose with GGG’s lackluster performance was his work with Johnathon Banks. Golovkin was supposed to show us his new style and some new tricks he’s developed with his new trainer. Instead, even fellow fighters began talking about whether Golovkin should go back to Abel Sanchez. For the record, Banks also subscribes to the illness theory and claimed that Golovkin’s illness was “horrible” before the bout but that GGG decided to fight anyway so there’s nothing to talk about. While Hearn may be protecting Golovkin’s future, Banks may be protecting his own reputation as a trainer.
One thing is for sure: With Derevyanchenko hurting Golovkin with a body shot, whether he goes back to his old trainer or not, he needs to stay far away from the best fighters at 168 pounds. What should Golovkin do next? A rematch with Derevyanchenko is a possibility. One fight that everyone thinks is more likely now than it was before Saturday is a third Canelo fight, possibly in May. The logic? Golovkin looked bad enough that Canelo might take the fight to win easily and definitively end the rivalry. While even outlets like ESPN have been pushing this narrative, Canelo has been so steadfast that his GGG fighting days are over that it’s hard to imagine Canelo was never worried about losing to GGG; the issue was something far more personal. While in the old days feuds were settled in the ring, these days the thing you do to a boxing enemy is deny him the big payday of getting to fight you. Not to mention, if you really think Canelo fights GGG in May, you’re assuming Canelo can bulk from 175 pounds in November to 160 six months later. That’s unlikely.
Either way, people wrote off Manny Pacquiao as old and washed up after the Jeff Horn fight and he’s still beating world champions two years later, so we should be careful about writing GGG’s career obituary after one bad fight, whether he was sick or not.
Shields-Habazin Cancelled After Trainer Sucker Punched at Weigh-in
Boxing journalists were all ready to type up their feel-good stories about Claressa Shields returning to her floundering hometown of Flint, Michigan, and winning a world title. Instead, Shields and her team ruined the weekend when someone from her camp sucker punched Ivana Habazin’s trainer, Bashir Ali, after he exchanged words with Shield’s sister when trying to look at the boxer’s weight. Ali had to get facial surgery and posted a picture of his damaged face from the emergency room.
With Habazin not wanting to fight the possible greatest female boxer of all-time in her hometown, both without her trainer in her corner and worrying about his health “Rocky 3” style, the fight was cancelled. Shields is now trying to recover from a PR disaster. Right after the incident, when the question of whether the fight was going to be cancelled or not was still in doubt, Shields had the gall to say, “Her name is Ivana ‘No Excuses,’ so I’m hoping we don’t have none.”
It will be interesting to see how the people of Flint treat their local hero now, considering the entire card was almost cancelled because of the actions of someone on her team. It will also be interesting to see if boxing journalists finally give up on trying to make Shields a sympathetic character -- yes, her background is horrific -- when she keeps undercutting the narrative at every turn.
Ennis Saves Shields Card, Scores Third-Round TKO
Philadelphia’s Jaron “Boots” Ennis found himself as the main event on the Flint card, when Shield’s fight got cancelled. After not even appearing on the televised portion of the last Showtime card he was on, Ennis took full advantage of his primetime opportunity, scoring a third-round stoppage of the previously 12-1 Demian Daniel Fernandez. “Boots” was never going to lose the fight, so he switched from orthodox to southpaw, walked down his opponent and eventually applied enough pressure to a cornered Fernandez that the Argentinian dropped to a knee. Though he beat the count, he told the referee he couldn’t see so the fight was stopped. While some accused him of quitting, others believed Fernandez may have had his orbital bone broken.
It’s time for Ennis to get a big fight. While only 22 years old, he’s 24-0 with 22 knockouts and, at least according to him, willing to fight any of the big names at either 147 or 140 pounds. Ennis has only around 7,000 followers on Twitter, where he isn’t even verified, which is probably keeping him from getting a chance at a big name. It seems like everyone in boxing recognizes him as a future star, but nobody is willing to invest in him. Showtime should step up.
Madrimov Backs Up Diaz’s Hype With Fifth-Round Stoppage
With Joel Diaz declaring him a future star and comparing his skills to the likes of Terence Crawford, GGG and Vasiliy Lomachenko, Israil Madrimov needed to look very good against Alejandro Barrera on the Golovkin undercard to keep people from rolling their eyes at the comparisons. Barrera had only been stopped once before, a fifth-round TKO loss to Errol Spence Jr. Madrimov backed up his trainer’s talk, dropping Barrera with a left hook in the first round before ultimately equaling Spence’s mark with a fifth-round stoppage victory.
While many fighters do it, Madrimov’s switch hitting is a real weapon while for many others it’s a bit of a gimmick. Even when he misses a big punch out of the Southpaw stance, he can shift into an orthodox stance and keep punching. While the stoppage was a little bit early, it was still an impressive showing.
Diaz wasn’t satisfied, though. After the fight, he said Madrimov looked skittish and was jumping inside too much, which was smothering his punches. Still, in his next fight Madrimov thinks he’s ready for a world champion, despite still only having a 4-0 with four knockout record as a professional. It’s unlikely he’ll actually get a 154-pound champion in his next fight, but he might get one sooner than later.
Baranchyk Bounces Back from Taylor Loss With Easy Stoppage Win
Ivan Baranchyk was looking to bounce back from his loss in the WBSS to Josh Taylor by taking on Gabriel Bracero. But Bracero was fresh off a surprising stoppage win over Artemio Reyes, and had never been stopped as a professional, so there was always a chance Baranchyk’s team made a bad matchmaking decision. Those fears were alleviated rather quickly on Saturday night, as Baranchyk walked down Bracero, dropped him in the fourth and forced Bracero’s corner to throw in the towel as soon as their fighter got up.
Baranchyk held the IBF 140-pound title until the loss to Taylor (he won it when it was vacant and lost it in his first defense). For his next fight, Baranchyk is apparently going to take on another former 140-pound titlist. Rumors are that Lou Dibella is trying to make Baranchy-Maurice Hooker happen. That would be a tough fight for Hooker coming fresh off his first career loss to Jose Ramirez, and Hooker said he was going to 147 after his last few performances were impacted by the cut to 140, so who knows if that fight’s actually going to happen?
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