Former world middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin 40-1-1 (35) edged Sergiy Derevyanchenko 13-2 (10) to claim the vacant IBF middleweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday night.
The 37-year-old Kazakh bomber scored a flash knockdown in the opening round and opened up a cut over Derevyanchenko’s right eye in the second, but 33-year-old Ukrainian stormed back in the middle rounds, hurting the former champion to the body in the fifth.
The championship rounds were close and when the dust settled, all three judges had it for Golovkin by scores of 114-113 and 115-112 twice.
“I told you, he’s a very tough guy. This is huge experience for me,” Golovkin said.
“Right now, I understand I need more. Focus is boxing. This was a tough fight. I need a little bit more. I need to still get stronger in my camp. Just more serious. I need to work hard. I need a little bit more focus.
“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. It’s a huge experience. It’s maximum destroy. I just respect his team.
“Rematch? Absolutely. Big fight for DAZN, for the people, of course I’m ready. I’m a boxer, I’m ready for anything.
“Absolutely I still want Canelo, I’m just open to anybody. There are so many great champions here. Sergiy, a lot of guys. Everything is ready, just call Canelo. If he says yes, let’s do it.”
Sergiy Derevyanchenko said: “The cut really changed the fight. I couldn’t see at times. And he was targeting the eye. But no excuses, it is what it is, I was trying my best.
“When I started moving, I felt like I was giving him room and I was getting hit with those shots that he threw and that’s why I started taking the fight to him and getting closer and not giving him room to manoeuvre.
“He hit me in the back of the head. He hit me behind the ear. I didn’t really see the punch but it didn’t really affect me that much. I got up and I wasn’t really hurt so I continued to fight, so it was nothing, nothing too bad.
“I would like the rematch if it’s possible, I’m ready.”