Gennady Golovkin has the opportunity to once again become the IBF middleweight champion of the world when he faces formidable Ukrainian contender Sergey Derevyanchenko, this Saturday at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, New York City.

A bout between the pair was originally ordered by the IBF less than eighteen months ago in May 2018, after the then-undefeated number one contender Derevyanchenko was instated as mandatory challenger to Golovkin, who at the time also held the WBC and WBA titles.

Although Golovkin’s apparent reluctance to entertain Derevyanchenko at the time – after his highly-anticipated rematch with Canelo Alvarez fell through following the latter’s positive test for clenbuterol – meant that the Karagandy native was unceremoniously stripped of his titles after the Ukrainian’s promoter, Lou DiBella, vigorously petitioned the organisation to take action.

Golovkin instead elected to face seasoned veteran Vanes Martirosyan, demolishing him in two rounds, while Derevyanchenko later in the year unsuccessfully challenged Daniel Jacobs for the vacant IBF strip, losing via split-decision in a thoroughly competitive affair.

After Golovkin’s controversial rematch defeat to Saul Alvarez in September 2018, the IBF belt found itself in the Mexican’s possession after Canelo’s unanimous decision victory over Jacobs, six months later.

Nevertheless, like his erstwhile counterpart Golovkin, Canelo was similarly stripped of the title after refusing to face Derevyanchenko – who had once again worked his way into an IBF ranking by outpointing Jack Culcay – instead choosing to move up two weight divisions in an audacious bid to dethrone WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in a November super-fight.

Both Golovkin and Derevyanchenko were accomplished amateur talents who have transitioned successfully into the professional ranks with their respective ring smarts and volume punching approach, coupled with the destructive power they evidently carry in both hands.

Unlike Golovkin, Derevyanchenko has not yet attained superstardom as a professional, and a win over fan favourite Golovkin on the big stage could very well represent the start of such a journey.

Indeed, Golovkin’s methodical, calculated pressure-fighting style has enabled him to make a record number of title defences and in the process establish himself as one of the division’s all-time greats.

Although some have suggested that he is not the predatory force he once was in the ring, expect him to edge this encounter on points, negating Derevyanchenko’s marginally superior hand speed with his own educated jab and surgical timing throughout twelve closely-contested rounds.

Article by: Navi Singh

Follow Navi on Twitter at: @DarkMan________