By: Sean Crose
“It’s the biggest fight of the year for us,” said Gennady Golovkin during a Thursday conference call to promote his October fifth middleweight title battle against Sergiy Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden. “I feel great. I feel like champion.” The fight, which will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service, is seen as something of a question mark for the now 37 year Kazakh warrior. Having been the top fighter at middleweight for years, Golovkin went on to come up empty in two highly controversial bouts against superstar Canelo Alvarez. A third fight between the two men was expected, but Canelo has made it clear he wants nothing to do with his arch rival, opting instead to move up to light heavyweight to battle WBO world titlist Sergey Kovalev.
That leaves the 39-1-1 Golovkin to face to the 13-1 Derevyanchenko for the IBF world middleweight title Canelo gave up in order to face Kovlaev. “The only choice he had was to go to a choice with Kovalev,” Golovkin said on the call. “He did this on purpose to not fight me.” Golovkin has always presented himself as a consummate professional, giving off an air he still maintains to this day. “How can I be disappointed looking at these people?” he asked, referring to those around him like trainer Jonathan Banks and promoters Tom Loeffler and Eddie Hearn. “I feel great.”
It’s important for Golovkin, who was last seen in the ring defeating Steve Rolls this past June, to keep feeling great as he works his way into his forties. The consensus around much of the fight world is that Golovkin has missed a beat due to toll Father Time has taken. “At this point in his career,” Derevyanchenko promoter Lou DiBella said of Golovkin on the call, “he’s not getting younger, he’s not getting faster, he’s not getting better…Sergiy Derevyanchenko is an incredible risk to GGG.” It can rightly be pointed out that DiBella was merely pumping up his fighter on the call at the expense of Golovkin. Still, I found it worth asking Golovkin whether or not he was changing his training or fight plan due to his age, the way – say – Bernard Hopkins made adjustments as he grew older.
“I don’t specifically take an example form someone else,” he responded. “I work as hard and as diligently as I can at this age.” The question fans and analysts have now is whether or not that hard work and diligence is enough. My biggest opponent,” Golovkin said, “is not a specific person. My biggest opponent is my age and desire.” Still, it appeared on the call that Golovkin was excited to return to Madison Square Garden, home of some of his most memorable fights. “I’m so excited for this fight, he claimed. “I like atmosphere. I like the people.” New York has been known to love Golovkin, as well.
Still, there’s the matter of Derevyanchenko to consider. “You hear people say it often,” said Andre Rozier, Derevyanchenko’s trainer, “but this has been one of the best training camps ever.” Rozier, one of the top trainers in the sport, wasn’t afraid to call it like he saw it on Thursday’s call. “This is not Steve rolls he’s facing on the fifteenth,” he said of Golovkin, “this is Sergiy ‘The Technician’ Derevyanchenko.”