Exactly one year ago, Gennadiy Golovkin was recovering from yet another close fight against Canelo Alvarez, but this time, Alvarez's hand was the one that was raised and Golovkin was title-less and looking for a new platform to fight on after his contract with HBO expired.
What followed in the coming months gave Golovkin the highest of highs and lowest of lows when it came to his boxing career. A move to DAZN was followed by a public and ugly fallout with long-time trainer Abel Sanchez and from that came the birth of a new partnership between Golovkin and Johnathon Banks and later Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing that will have the British promoter have a presence in Golovkin’s fight future.
In what may be described as the final chapter of Golovkin’s career, Golovkin returned to his winning ways with an impressive knockout win over Steve Rolls back on June 8, sending a statement to Alvarez to come and face him one more time. That call-out ultimately fell on deaf ears after both sides weren’t able to secure a highly-anticipated third fight.
Now, Golovkin will look to capture one of the middleweight titles he once held when he takes on Sergiy Derevyanchenko on October 5 at Madison Square Garden. Golovkin will be facing yet another tough test, but unlike his previous fight against Steve Rolls, there are plenty of questions surrounding him: Will age catch up to him finally? Can Johnathon Banks help improve Golovkin with a full camp together? How will Golovkin look going up against a world-class middleweight one year after losing to Alvarez?
Taking in all these professional changes can sometimes be too much for some, but Golovkin said he feels excited for what is coming in his career.
“I feel great, I feel like a champion. Every fight for me is like a championship fight. I feel the same. All my fights, last fight, this fight, it’s the same level of excitement,” Golovkin said in a conference call Fightful participated in.
If the fight against Rolls was a new restaurant's soft open, where you find out what needs to be worked on and how the staff interact with each other in high-pressure situations, then the fight against Derevyanchenko is that restaurant's opening to the general public, a true test to see where he stands today.
Banks said he and Golovkin have gotten along swimmingly and even with a shorter-than usual camp for the June 8 bout against Rolls, the two now have the chance to have a full training camp for the fight against Derevyanchenko, one the Golovkin team believe will yield incredible results.
“We get along great. Only time is going to draw us closer and closer. Everything is good, we have no complaints. Camp for the Rolls fight was shorter, but it was a really good camp. This fight camp was longer and it was a really good camp,” Banks told Fightful.
Though he may be favored in the fight, Golovkin knows not to underestimate Derevyanchenko despite being a clear betting favorite. Golovkin may feel great now, but he is still 37 years old and he knows he's facing a younger opponent who still has plenty to prove after coming so close to winning a world title last year in the same venue the two middleweights will face off.
“You can't underestimate your opponent. No matter what, you still have to prepare for the opponent. It's kind of like a duel, no matter how many duels you have this one could be your last one. So when it comes to the way [Derevyanchenko] approaches the fight and his respect towards me, just shows his upbringing and his character. So, I'll never underestimate my opponent,” Golovkin said.
Golovkin will be facing Derevyanchenko, a once-beaten fighter whose only loss was against Daniel Jacobs back in October 2018, also for the IBF middleweight title. Derevyanchenko claims he has grown from that split decision loss and that experience has made him a better fighter, one that can beat Golovkin.
Even Golovkin admitted that the fight between Jacobs and Derevyanchenko, one between long-time sparring partners who have the same trainer, came down as to which fighter had the proper trainer in their corner. Jacobs had Andre Rozier, the man who is helping Derevyanchenko, in his corner back in 2018 and Golovkin believed that was the difference-maker. Rozier is a potential X-factor for Derevyanchenko given that he’s had experience training fighters for Golovkin.
“I saw the fight, and it was a very technical fight. It felt like a sparring session in a way. It felt like both of them knew each other very well. They knew what worked well, and really, the decision was made by the corner of the fighter. The fight depended on which corner the trainer would have been in. If Jacobs had the right coach in his corner, he won and if Sergiy had the right coach, he won,” Golovkin told Fightful.
Yet, even with all these changes, the one constant is Golovkin and Hearn insists that everything regarding Golovkin’s career, or what’s left of it, starts and begins with the former unified champion. With his new deal fighting on DAZN, Golovkin is able to start flexing his promotional muscles with GGG Promotions and 2020 promises to bring a lot for Golovkin both in and out of the ring.
"Gennadiy's the boss. GGG Promotions has its own entity. Obviously, we're all working partners on DAZN and it was a very nice of him to feel we could add another dimension to the team. We will do that moving forward. It's happened quite quickly. Obviously this fight got put together and we were involved in the background. Moving forward, we look forward to a huge 2020 for him, as well. It's about looking at all opportunities, not just in America, but globally as well for GGG Promotions. And that’s what we're going to be looking to do hopefully starting October 5th,” Hearn told Fightful.
As Golovkin sits in New York City, fielding questions about Alvarez ad nauseam while still preparing to win yet another world title, the question of Father Time catching up to him is inevitably brought up. But after what has happened to him in the past 24 months in his boxing career, Golovkin returns to Madison Square Garden fighting for the love of the sport for as long as he physically can, knowing full well he will have to hang up his gloves.
After this fight against Derevyanchenko, there are four fights left on his DAZN deal which could be the final four fights of his career. In the twilight years of his career with his legacy as one of the greatest middleweights of the past decade, Golovkin simply wants to enjoy the ride.
“Life is unpredictable and I do my work. My biggest opponent is not a specific person. My biggest opponent is my age and my desire to continue boxing. All those other names that are being thrown out, that's not as important as my love for the sport of boxing," Golovkin said.