NEW YORK — There were no questions directed towards Gennadiy Golovkin at ringside about Canelo Alvarez after his media workout on Tuesday afternoon. After two close fights and years of orbiting each other, Golovkin and Alvarez appear to be moving further away from each other by the day. A third fight would seem easier to make with both now fighting on DAZN, but reality seems more complicated than that.

You get the sense that Golovkin would be happy if every fight was against Alvarez until he finally gets at least two judges to say he won. Instead, Alvarez is moving up to light heavyweight to face Sergey Kovalev, and Golovkin is facing Sergiy Derevyanchenko to regain the IBF middleweight title, which he had previously held when he was one belt shy of becoming undisputed at 160.

“Whether the Canelo fight happens or not, Gennadiy says he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, but we’re moving on,” said co-promoter Tom Loeffler, when asked if getting the IBF belt will improve Golovkin’s chances of securing a third fight. “Triple G is ready for the third fight, we thought he won the previous fights. He’s ready whenever Canelo decides to get back in the ring with him.”

The IBF belt had been stripped from Alvarez after an August deadline passed to reach an agreement with the mandatory challenger Derevyanchenko. It’s similar to the situation Golovkin found himself in May of 2018, when he was stripped for facing late replacement Vanes Martirosyan instead of Derevyanchenko after a rematch with Alvarez was scrapped for a failed pre-fight drug test. That belt was picked up by Daniel Jacobs by split decision over Derevyanchenko a year ago, and then Jacobs lost it to Alvarez in May.

Once again, Derevyanchenko couldn’t get a unified champ in the ring with him and is fighting for a vacant title. 

Photo by Amanda Westcott / DAZN

“Now his situation has changed,” said Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10 knockouts), who last fought in April, beating Jack Culcay by unanimous decision. “When he had a belt, he only wants those who have a belt. Now I don’t have a belt, and he doesn’t have a belt…and we’re fighting for a belt.”

Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KOs) of Kazakhstan looked in good spirits outside of Madison Square Garden on a cool day that finally felt like Autumn had arrived. Fans lined the block on 33rd and 8th, holding signs that read “Big Drama Show”. One fan even got in the ring to meet Golovkin after showing off his tattoo of Golovkin punching Alvarez in their first fight.

Golovkin hit the pads briefly with trainer Johnathon Banks, with whom he’s working for the second time after switching trainers earlier this year. He had also signed a new broadcast deal with DAZN in March and brought on Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing as a co-promoter.

“I want to stay with my style, big drama style,” said Golovkin, who is fighting for the seventh time at Madison Square Garden. “If he gives me a chance, first round, second round, he’s finished. Don’t blink.”

Golovkin says he’s been familiar with the Ukrainian Derevyanchenko for a number of years, watching him when he fought for the Kazakhstan team in the World Series of Boxing before he turned pro in 2014. 

“My 100 percent focus is to Derevyanchenko. If I beat him, I have a great future. I want unification, I want big names, I want a lot. A lot works better for me,” said Golovkin.

Banks says the 33-year-old Derevyanchenko is a “big challenge” for Golovkin. “The kid ain’t afraid of nobody, you’ve seen the way he fights. He’s a hard fight for anybody,” added Banks, who had an abbreviated camp with Golovkin before their last fight, a fourth round knockout of Steve Rolls in June.

Hearn, wearing shades and splitting his attention towards everyone around ringside, said he isn’t concerned about finding opponents for Golovkin to fulfill his six-fight deal with DAZN.

“There’s so many. You’ve got [WBO titleholder] Demetrius Andrade, he’s a natural fight, that’s a unification fight if he wins on Saturday. Or even above that or down, Billy Joe Saunders if he can come to 160, or Gennadiy can fight him for his [WBO super middleweight] world title. You’ve got Callum Smith at 168 [pounds], WBA/Ring Magazine champion of the world, Danny Jacobs rematch, the list is endless,” said Hearn.

“If we can see that crucial Gennadiy Golovkin, I think it’s gonna be great, and a lot of people are gonna be calling for that Canelo number three [fight].” 

Loeffler believes there are positives to be seen in Golovkin restarting as a contender and working his way back to the title, saying that rivals are more willing to take chances with the aging warrior. 

Golovkin, smiling, embraced that new reality.

“Try, just please try, I’m hoping for anybody,” said Golovkin.

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected]

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