NEW YORK – Lou DiBella was Micky Ward’s promoter when Ward went toe-to-toe with Arturo Gatti in what’s revered as one of the most incredible action fights in boxing history.
Seventeen years later, DiBella felt as though he witnessed something similar Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Sergiy Derevyanchenko’s promoter applauded his fighter and Gennadiy Golovkin for producing perhaps the “Fight of the Year” for 2019, an unbelievable brawl that sent both boxers to the hospital and left appreciative, awestruck fans wanting more.
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin and Ukraine’s Derevyanchenko dug deep throughout an epic slugfest Golovkin narrowly won by unanimous decision. Derevyanchenko overcame a debatable first-round knockdown, a gruesome gash around his right eye and gave Golovkin arguably the most difficult fight of his 13-year pro career.
“He spent his whole life in boxing,” DiBella said of the 33-year-old Derevyanchenko. “This is what he always wanted, to get in the ring with Triple-G and beat him. And he always believed that he could. We said stuff. We talked about [fighting] Canelo, but we knew the fight this guy wanted his whole life was Triple-G.
“He went tonight, he got knocked down early with a shot to the back of the head, which already was troubling. He got cut early in the fight and he was bleeding like a stuck pig, and he fought one of the great fights that I’ve seen. It really was like a Gatti-Ward fight, at an incredibly high skill level. But I will always believe I knew who won, and it wasn’t Triple-G.”
Each of the three judges – Frank Lombardi (115-112), Eric Molinski (115-112) and Kevin Morgan (114-113) – scored their fantastic fight for Golovkin. Derevyanchenko stung Golovkin with numerous body and head shots, though, and often backed up one of the most punishing punchers of this generation.
Like the late Gatti and Ward in May 2002, Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) and Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) skipped the post-fight press conference Saturday night to get checked out at a nearby hospital.
“That was f***ing World War III,” DiBella said. “And I’ve gotta think a lot of people sitting here think that Sergiy won the fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.