It takes a special match-up to draw this writer across the Atlantic.
In 1987 my first sortie was for ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler v ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, a contest between two of the modern greats. I was 22 at the time, had just graduated and was boxing mad. With a close friend I spent three months travelling coast to coast to and around the fight, also taking in a peak Mike Tyson and an emerging Evander Holyfield among others. It honed my boxing observer education at the highest level.
I returned twice in the 1990’s taking in strawweight legend Ricardo ‘Finito’ Lopez and witnessing Michael Moorer become the first southpaw to gain the lineal world heavyweight title in boxing history.
Into the new millennium, I returned in 2001 for ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed against Marco Antonio Barrera, a big disappointment from a British perspective. Then, in 2007, I crossed the ocean again for ‘The World Awaits’ between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. and, over the next two years, saw Joe Calzaghe boss Bernard Hopkins and a peak Manny Pacquiao destroy Ricky Hatton.
Apart from a couple of sorties to New York City to see Gennadiy Golovkin and Miguel Cotto at the Garden and visit the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota I haven’t been back to Las Vegas since 2009. COVID-19 has had something to do with it, but quite simply there hasn’t been a match-up that has whetted my appetite to compete with some of the above.
Vegas, the fastest growing city in the USA will have changed much; hotels will have been levelled and resorts come and gone, however, the big ones (Caesars Palace, MGM Grand) remain and the buzz around a big fight weekend will be electric.
On September 17 at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas I will witness a historic match-up that meets my criteria. Whether the fight lives up to my expectations remains to be seen, but as a contest going in, the third and defining trilogy fight between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin ticks all the boxes. Two first ballot hall-of-fame fighters, who’ve had two previous contests that were fight of the year in 2017 and 2018 respectively, have a combined win-loss record of 99-3 (76 KO’s) and, who will meet to determine the undisputed super-middleweight (12st/168lbs) championship of the world.
This contest is potentially a fight for ‘the ages’ and, that, is the one question mark over it. Can a 40 year old Golovkin compete, as before, toe to toe with his adversary, and both deliver the fight we all hope for ? Much will have to do with what GGG has left, some say he’s well past his best and predict a Pacquiao-Mayweather-like contest, when the former was five years past his prime and the latter just about at his peak. Only when that first bell rings will we know the answer.
This writer though, believes the match up is worth the trip. The Mexican world champion ‘Canelo’, is only 32 but coming off a loss against Dmitry Bivol up at light-heavyweight (12st, 7lbs/175lbs). His era of invincibility is no more, and he’s moving down a division. This makes the contest more of ‘a contest’. Golovkin has campaigned at middleweight (11st, 6lbs/160lbs) the whole of his professional career and is not renowned as a ‘big’ middleweight. The challenge for him will be to carry that extra poundage but also retain the mobility that he enjoyed at 160. However, GGG has never relied on his elusiveness. The Kazakh is an ‘in your face’ pressure fighter which is combined with the skills of an Olympic silver medallist and a lengthy elite amateur pedigree. Plus he has mind numbing power, shown by his 37 KO’s in 44 fights.
The Mexican, is similar in his aggressive approach and in the second fight with Golovkin changed tactics to take the fight to the Kazakh. This won him that second fight on a majority decision. Golovkin was adjudged to have won the first on everyone’s card, apart from the three men that mattered (at ringside) and the fight was deemed a draw. Outrage ensued among the media and fans and that second meeting came a year on.
So, in many eyes the log reads 1-1 with the third fight determining who is the true champion and the dominant boxer of the two in this era. On September 17 we will see a match up that can comfortably stand in the annals of boxing history with some of the greatest of all time. Whether we see a fight that matches up to that hyperbole remains to be seen, but this writer believes it is one worth travelling across ‘the pond’ for, and one that all casual boxing fans should tune in for. The hard core will know, and will have their doubts by virtue of the above, but I believe this is one to give the benefit of the doubt to.
Aside from a heavyweight unification and Terence Crawford v Errol Spence Jr this is the biggest fight in boxing. Let’s face it, which casual boxing fan really knows who the latter are ? Canelo and GGG they might have half a chance, but on September 18 they will know for sure.
The fight is currently scheduled to be shown on the DAZN streaming platform as a pay per view event and is well worth the investment to catch it. If you love boxing you will love this event.
Check this website for further updates on the fighters in training camp and on-site fight week coverage live from Las Vegas.