Two powerful Fight of the Year candidates on the heels of each other — indeed, it’s been a fertile pocket of time for fight fanatics. You saw Spence-Porter and were impressed with the chops of both, and then you saw GGG-Derevyanchenko — this is winning, boxing people.
Ah, but this is boxing, so there cannot be across the board sentiment of admiration and adulation.
On Saturday night, Madison Square Garden came thisclose to hosting another eyebrow-raising underdog special, with Sergiy Derevyanchenko most definitely living up to his staid but accurate nickname, ”The Technician,” and Gennadiy Golovkin, well, he’s had better nights.
Here is a batch of next day, slept on it and had three coffees takeaways:
—That wasn’t prime GGG in there, but I dare say most folks assumed that at 37, he’d lost a quarter, half or full step. Nope, that wasn’t so apparent in his two masterful efforts versus Canelo, but people saw him get tagged against Steve Rolls, and wondered, “Hmm, is he showing the effects of all those birthdays?” You might have received an answer last night — OR, you might have heard promoter Eddie Hearn share with Marcos Villegas that GGG was sick this week. Cold/flu type of thing, which, he said, kept him from being 100 percent. He said that he didn’t think GGG would want him telling people, and he only learned about it at the arena on Saturday. That would be tough luck, and an element of the fighting life. You can slam your Emergen-C, use hand sanitizer religiously, and still be outta luck, be invaded by a virus at an inopportune time. Bottom line, people will still debate if or how much GGG has slipped.
—Derevyanchenko’s promoter Lou DiBella was in thundering mode ringside postfight. Thundering but without the harshest of edges, because he appreciated a superlative fight. I said to Lou, “Hey, Sergiy’s stock rose in the loss,” and he replied, eff that, that man should be enjoying a legacy-making victory right now, not enjoying a symbolic victory. The scores I saw people furnishing ranged from 8-4 Sergey (both DiBella and manager Keith Connolly thought their guy won by that margin) to 7-5 GGG (the score Derevyanchenko trainer Andre Rozier told me that he had) to a fight even in rounds. I scored it 5-5-2, with an extra point for GGG for the knockdown. Then you had the judges, who saw it 114-113 and 115-112 times two. Seems like lots of you think the three point edge for the Kazakh was too generous. I have a remedy, perhaps, for that.
—Gotta do that rematch. Run that back. Give ‘em time to rest, as much as they both want, but yes, indeed, this was a more compelling scrap than either GGG-Canelo fight, because there was more fighting rather than pugilism on display. Arguably, I know, many of you revere the ring generalship you saw in the two Canelo-GGG tangos. Connolly, DiBella and Rozier are all pro-rematch, but as Rozier told me, you know how that powers that be, be. If it is decided GGG will go in another direction, then it might be one and done for Golovkin-Derevyanchenko. That’s the way of the world. But, as Rozier noted, if the fan push is so overwhelming, then maybe it has to happen. You could book a rematch for the first quarter of 2020, yes? Is that what you all think should be booked next for GGG? Tell us in the comments.
—Rewatch the walk to the ring from GGG. It looks more interesting in retrospect. Does he not look pale, almost a bit worried? Eyes cast downward. He looks unlike a warrior ready to rumble but more like a guy headed to an IRS audit.
—Regarding that knockdown in round one. The DAZN replay wasn’t wondrous, but it looked like the shot was on the top of the head toward the back of the head. GGG is not one to stop punching when a foe dips their head, opponents need to know that he likes to chop downward and dipping your head toward him isn’t a smart move. After the fight, DiBella said Derevyanchenko had knots on the back of his head. Ideally, refs are on the lookout for that, because that’s not a kosher shot.
—Props have to go to Rozier. He had Curtis Stevens in with GGG in 2013, then Danny Jacobs in 2017. As he put it, as I chatted with him after, he feels like he’s now 1-2, his streak is broken. He said everyone coming out of MSG was telling him the same. The game plan, to push GGG back, not let him be dictating offensively so much, and get angles, turning in half-circles, went to plan. Upon rewatch, I was better able to see and appreciate how much Derevyanchenko’s subtle movement contributed to his success. His mobility reduced GGG’s accuracy. “The Technician,” indeed.
—I saw many of you calling for the return of Abel Sanchez. Here’s the thing: old dogs, s hard to learn new tricks, and re-set and revamp something like how you fight. Habits set in their ways over three decades, those are hard to tweak, and yeah, I don’t know that I saw too much in the way of new tricks from the 37-year-old Golovkin?
—Shoutout props to Derevyanchenko cutman Mike Bazzel, who had the right tools and the right touch to keep a nasty looking slice on the right eye of the Ukrainian OK, to the point the battler could continue in the fray. “That was a head butt, that don’t look like a punch,” trainer Rozier informed referee Harvey Dock as he came to corner to examine the slice after round two, sagely trying to influence the arbiter. The gash was wide, right underneath the hairline of the eyebrow, and it didn’t open up the point the docs would have had no choice but to stop the fight.
—Pure props to GGG for his in-ring statement to Chris Mannix post-fight: “Right now it’s bad day for me, it’s a huge day for Sergiy, his team. This is huge experience for me. Right now I know what I need exactly. I lost a little bit of focus. Sergiy was ready. I really respect him. He showed me such a big heart. I told him, ‘Sergiy, this is best fight for me.’ I just respect his team.” He aimed heavy praise at the “loser,” rather than work to spin, and convince us all that the UD was fully justified. Yep, it was weird to hear the rain of boos fall on him, obliterate what he was saying in the joint, in front of the announced 12,577. DiBella on social media opined that people were booing the decision, not the man, but point taken. Fans might want to next time hold off on that boo-bird stuff, being that this guy has given of himself to the sport and hello, he didn’t furnish the scorecards.
Fire us your takeaways in the comment section.
Follow Woods on Twitter for boxing news and opinion.