With a break from the hectic schedule of recent world title fights we look forward three weeks to the big super-middleweight contest in Las Vegas on September 17.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez versus Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin really is one for the ages. Their scheduled third contest for the undisputed and Ring magazine 168lbs/12st title is up there with any trilogies of the past. Think Tony Zale v Rocky Graziano in the 1940’s, think Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier and Ken Norton in the 1970’s, think Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward, Eric Morales-Marco Antonio Barrera, Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez and, more recently, think Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder. Trilogies rarely fail to deliver, that in essence is why there’s a third fight in the first place, because the previous two have been so damn good.
Both fighters are currently deep in training camp, ‘Canelo’ in San Diego, USA close to his native Mexico, and Kazakh Golovkin in Big Bear high up in the Californian mountains. They will soon cease sparring and enter the tapering phase. Positive news filters out from both camps via social media as they hone their bodies to a state of perfection and readiness for the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas strip.
Golovkin, at 40 years, has the bigger challenge. First to defy the attrition of ‘Old Father Time’, but also to devise a game plan that puts right the wrong of September 2018 when he lost a majority decision to the more aggressive Alvarez. ‘GGG’ won the first fight in 2017 on most people’s cards, apart from the three men that mattered, the judges, who ruled it a controversial split draw.
The Kazakh knows he will not win a decision by outboxing Canelo. He will have to meet the Mexican head on and is likely preparing for the intensity and power necessary to prevail. He is the bigger puncher of the two, with a significantly highly KO percentage, but; and this is a big but, those have all been at 160lbs/11st,6lbs as a middleweight. The big unknown is can he take that power up ?
Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KO’s) is dropping down after sorties in the light-heavyweight division, fighting a duo of Russians in Sergey Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol, registering a 1-1 record. At age 32 he is the younger and theoretically the bigger man, but only stands 5′ 8″ and will he be weight drained coming down ?
Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KO’s) at 5′ 10″ although campaigning exclusively at middleweight does have the height advantage and an almost identical 70 inch reach. He also has the superior amateur pedigree, although Canelo matches this with 61 fight professional record. It’s a match up made in heaven with many intangibles.
Alvarez exudes bad blood between the two claiming in a BBC interview “I don’t like the guy…When he’s in front of me, he doesn’t say anything – ‘I respect him, I respect his career and this and this’ – but what about what he’s been saying in interviews and in other places ?”. He alludes to Golovkin’s criticism of him for the Mexican’s sixth-month doping ban back in 2018 prior to their rematch. He claims the rivalry and third fight is “personal” and predicts a stoppage to end Golovkin’s career.
‘GGG’ has kept his counsel and not criticised his foe directly before the media. In an earlier press conference to launch the fight he epitomised the consummate professional. “I don’t think it’s personal, I think it’s a sport…if he has something against me that’s fine…I’m confident”. This seems to rub Canelo up the wrong way and will be surely fuelling the Mexican’s fire in training camp.
Legacy is what they are both searching for. To be considered the best 160-168 pounder in their generation. On September 17 we will establish who is the better fighting man. We can’t wait !
The September event is promoted by Matchroom Boxing in association with the two fighters promotional companies and will be shown on DAZN pay per view worldwide.