Gennady Golovkin regained one of his old middleweight titles, edging Sergiy Derevyanchenko in a unanimous decision to take the IBF championship Saturday night.
Golovkin knocked down Derevyanchenko in the first round, opened a cut near his right eye in the second, and then held on from there in a fight where the longtime middleweight ruler absorbed plenty of the type of punishing shots he used to deliver.
But he did just enough to win 115-112 on two cards and 114-113 on the other, claiming the belt that was vacated by Canelo Alvarez, who handed Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) his only loss.
The Associated Press scored it 115-112 for Golovkin.
Derevyanchenko (13-2) fell just short in his second attempt to win the middleweight title, having lost by split decision to Danny Jacobs last year, also at Madison Square Garden.
Many of the same fans who cheered Golovkin wildly before the fight and chanted “Triple G! Triple G!” when it looked like he needed a boost in the 10th booed the decision.
It was Golovkin’s second straight win after he had a draw and a loss in his two fights with Alvarez, close bouts in which many people thought he won at least one of them. But plenty more thought he could have lost this one, after Derevyanchenko rallied strongly from a bad start to the fight.
Golovkin wants a third fight with Alvarez but he would have to be much sharper if he gets it than he was Saturday.
He was frequently beaten to the punch by Derevyanchenko, who ignored the cut and Golovkin’s vaunted power to nearly pull off the upset.
Golovkin defended the middleweight title 20 times, tied for the record, before first vacating the IBF belt when he wouldn’t agree to face mandatory challenger Derevyanchenko when the original date for the second match against Alvarez had to be scrapped in May 2018 after the Mexican failed a drug test.
Golovkin then left without any bouts after falling to Alvarez when it was rescheduled.
He’s a champion again now, but just barely.