Middleweight Iron Men: GGG, Canelo and Others

It’s never a good thing for a fighter to look past his next opponent but for fans and boxing writers it’s perfectly acceptable to consider what comes down the road. In the middleweight division, all eyes are currently fixed on September 16 in Las Vegas. It’s a month and a half to go before we know who the universally recognized middleweight champion of the world really is.

Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez?

Is the winner also undisputed #1 P4P?

“I don’t care about pound-for-pound,” claims GGG.

What do you care about then?

“Being the middleweight champion of the world.”

To Alvarez, wearer of the once prestigious Ring Magazine Belt, it all comes down to style, if not necessarily Mexican style. ​”This is a difficult fight but I’m a counterpuncher,” Canelo reminds us. “And Golovkin’s style is to come forward. My style is superior,” insists Alvarez.

Styles Clash 

With that issue soon settled in the ring, the division can move on to who might challenge next for the world championship. According to the WBC, that should be ‘Iron Man’ Jermall Charlo. After dispatching of legless Jorge Sebastian Heiland in Brooklyn last weekend, a compelling case can be made that Charlo 26-0 (20) represents the most imminent threat to either Canelo or GGG should the tall Texan find himself sharing a ring with either superstar in the near future.

Having just made the jump from 154 (where he held the IBF title for three defenses) to 160, Charlo came off on Showtime like a confident young man who understands he needs a little more time to settle into the larger division. Regardless, a clash with Golovkin looms large. If there’s iron in Charlo’s chin, it might be Triple G with a Houston problem on his hands.

Should promoter Lou DiBella get his way, it won’t be Charlo to challenge for the title next but rather ​SergiyDerevyanchenko. DiBella announced on Wednesday August 2nd that the 31-year-old Ukrainian middleweight contender will lock horns with 20-1 (14) Tureano Johnson in Miami, Oklahoma on August 25 on a Premier Boxing Champions card to be aired on FS1.

“Derevyanchenko and Johnson are two of the top middleweights in the world,” promoted the fancy-pants DiBella in a fresh PBC press release. “This is a great opportunity on a big forum for Derevyanchenko to prove he belongs with the elite at 160.”

No Exaggeration 

Derevyanchenko 10-0 (8) is a decorated amateur champion and a power-punching professional with iron in his fists. His biggest win was a 2016 beatdown of former middleweight titlist Sam Soliman. Covering that one live for TSS, I can attest to the heavy metal of Derevyanchenko.

Tureano Johnson was controversially stopped while ahead on points in 2014 by Curtis Stevens but has won six since including two at Madison Square Garden. He’s rugged. After winning on the HBO PPV undercard of Golovkin-Stevens, Johnson called out GGG; telling NYC reporters that he possesses a “cast iron” chin. Good. He’ll need it against ‘Technician’ Derevyanchenko. “I have great respect for my opponent,” says Johnson. “But he’s in my way of the championship.”

The winner takes a step closer to a title opportunity, particularly if it’s Golovkin who emerges with the belts in Vegas. Alvarez has already demonstrated that defending the WBC middleweight championship against middleweights is a chore; clearly not his idea of Mexican style.

Canelo is more interested in catchweights and big money fights against big name opponents—and who can blame him? Following in the footsteps of Marvelous Marvin Hagler is hard work but that’s what Triple G has been doing since 2010 when he first won the WBA crown in Panama City. A Superfight triumph over Alvarez would likely put the Kazakh square on a path to Canastota. An Alvarez victory could result in the Mexican giving up some (or all) of the middleweight title belts, especially the WBC version; resulting in ABC vacancies all over again.

Miracle Near 34th Street 

Don’t forget Danny Jacobs, arguably the top contender in the division regardless of who the real champion is on the morning of September 17. The ‘Miracle Man’ gave GGG his toughest challenge to date last March but had to bulk up like a super middleweight or a light heavyweight to do it. Big as Jacobs (and his heart) was, Golovkin’s championship resolve was bigger.

Triple G sat his challenger down and won a well-earned decision. What Jacobs earned was an abundance of respect for going the twelve round distance to end Golovkin’s impressive knockout streak at 24. He also earned another chance to challenge for the championship. Will it come against Golovkin or Golden Boy’s Canelo Alvarez? Time will tell but Jacobs can no longer be dismissed as chinless in there.

Billy, Willie &The WBO

On the same day as Golovkin-Canelo (THE fight for THE middleweight championship of THE world), Billy Joe Saunders risks his bogus WBO middleweight title in London against slick American southpaw Willie “The Mongoose” Monroe Jr. If he gets fair judging in Billy Joe’s ‘Copper Box’ backyard, Willie’s stylish enough to lift the belt from the less dynamic Saunders.

Promoted by Artie Pelullo’s Banner Promotions, it’s easy to envision a future where Monroe Jr. is defending his newly won WBO 160-pound title against DiBella’sDerevyanchenko rather than engaging in an “undisputed unification” rematch with Golovkin who stopped him in 2015.

Monroe Jr. was beaten into submission by GGG in California but the Philly fighter showed an iron will to compete. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Alvarez upset Golovkin, Monroe Jr. wormed his way to the WBO title and it all boiled down to Canelo vs. Monroe for middleweight supremacy?

Styles makes fights.

The counterpunching Canelo is counting on it.

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