TIME is against Gennady Golovkin. His future will be decided on Saturday (October 5). If he beats Sergey Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden in New York, he will win back the IBF middleweight belt, he’ll become a two-time world champion and host of opportunities will lie ahead of him, even at the relatively advanced age of 37. Without victory though, those options swiftly will dry up.

And Derevyanchenko certainly could win. His record is deceptive. He has 14 professional contests on his ledger but he had a long, dominant career in the World Series of Boxing format. His only loss as a pro was to stablemate Daniel Jacobs, which meant he had his own trainer Andre Rozier in the opposite corner for that fight. The two are now reunited and Derevyanchenko has the style to give Golovkin a real fight.

“I’m not betting on the fact that Golovkin’s getting older. Golovkin’s still a very dangerous fighter. But I’m extremely focused, I’m very motivated. I had a great camp and I think we did everything necessary to win this fight,” the Ukrainian said. “I have to work with my jab, I have to stay focused on my jab. I also can’t stay in one place. So he never gets comfortable so I can avoid his punches. And if I work and punch through angles that’s going to be my shot.

“There was a void in the last two camps, not having Andre there. This camp, the whole team is together. There’s a difference. I feel a difference. It’s tangible and it’s going to help me.”

Derevyanchenko is ambitious. “I want to fight everyone in the middleweight division and the goal is to beat everybody. To be a true star in boxing, to be undisputed in boxing, you actually have to fight the best people and you have to defeat them. So this is the next step,” he added.

Gennady Golovkin vs Sergey Derevyanchenko
Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/GGG Promotions

In Golovkin Derevyanchenko is fighting a true star. If “GGG” were, eventually, to get his third fight Canelo Alvarez, that would be the biggest event in the sport. World champions from middleweight to super-middle are, currently, queuing up to fight Golovkin.

“We have to think through that [super-middleweight]. We have to see what opportunities come my way,” the Kazakh said. “I’m a natural middleweight so going to 168lbs would be going outside of my comfort zone. I feel very comfortable at 160 but I can go to 168 if need be… If you want me to move to 168, make it interesting for me.”

He could fight Ryota Murata in a major fight in Japan. But Golovkin is trying to keep his attention focused solely on Derevyanchenko. “Let’s be honest at this level every contender is serious. Sergey has a lot of experience,” Golovkin said. “He’s been a contender before, he fought for the belt before. We are approaching this as seriously as we can.

“His situation is different right now. His coach is back. The coach will be in his corner. It might be the last opportunity for him to demonstrate the skills, demonstrate what he’s capable of. So I think it should be different this time around. Maybe he’ll go all in this time.”

But Golovkin warned, “Playing with boxing is like playing with fire. We’ll try to put up a great show. We’ll do the best for our fans but let’s not make predictions.”

Golovkin is forging a relationship himself with a new coach. This will only be his second contest with Johnathon Banks in his corner. The Kazakh still insisted, “We had more time for this camp than previously. We have a lot of understanding with each other. We trained a lot of different things. Of course we always need more time than we are allowed but the more time we have the more we can try and the better we’ll be prepared.”

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