Vegas Strip lowdown

Super-middleweights prepare for battle.

The final press conference for the massive 168lbs (12 stone) trilogy fight between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin took place today without any of the usual fireworks this close to fight night. Both fighters have shared twenty four of the finest rounds witnessed in boxing in the last five years. Saturday promises to be more of the same.

Mexican, Alvarez and Kazakh, Golovkin exuded confidence, but respect was the order of the day. Canelo to this point had referred to his adversary as a “fraud”, not specifically for his fighting ability but for his perceived view that GGG was different when face-to-face than in his posts on social media. Golovkin has had similar contempt for his opponent on the basis of making comments to clean up the sport by emerging victorious on Saturday.

On the dais today a sense of realisation may have kicked in but both oozed confidence. Golovkin’s ever present smile only diminishes when he’s inside the ropes, or in this case nose-to-nose with Canelo. This continued today.

Both fighters know they’re in a fight. Golovkin, first up said “We are both professional athletes. His strategy is more aggressive. My strategy is more experience. In the ring we’ll show who is better. This is the biggest fight for us.”

Alvarez had spoken over the last few weeks of ending Golovkin’s career, of ending it by knockout. When quizzed today he responded “The pressure I’ve put on myself is to win this fight inside the distance, it’s going to be tough, but I’m ready”.

Discussion on weight is ever present in the build up to this fight. Can Golovkin be as strong and powerful moving up ? Will he carry the one punch power which he’s renowned for ? His KO record is phenomenal at this level. Now aged 40 he will be relieved by not having to shed the extra poundage.

Will Canelo comfortably slip back to 168lbs after losing his last fight to Dmitry Bivol at 175 ? Is it harder to move up, or move down. Who is most comfortable with this at their respective ages ? All key questions that will be answered on Saturday.

As they stood nose-to-nose the height differential is obvious. Golovkin towers over Canelo and looks lean compared to the compact figure of the Mexican. For Canelo it presents lots of body to work against, for Golovkin the jab might be decisive. Both are exceptional at either.

Tomorrow’s weigh-in will give us a glimpse of each fighter’s preparation and although both are completely bored with it by now, that final face-off may be a bit tasty.

The battle is close to commencing to determine the 160-168 pounder of this generation and all of boxing, 20,000 in attendance at the Las Vegas T-Mobile Arena and those watching on DAZN will be transfixed. A victory for either shouldn’t define the legacy of each, but Vegas is cruel and has no place for losers.

Vegas Strip lowdown

A beaming ’GGG’ Golovkin arrives in Vegas.

On a day when tennis legend Roger Federer called time at age 41 can middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin go to the well one last time to write his name indelibly in boxing history ?

That’s the million dollar question on the Las Vegas strip as we countdown to his colossal trilogy fight with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena. The oddsmakers say “No” with Golovkin +400 (4 to 1 against) and in The Ring magazine ’experts’ turned in a 20-0 poll in favour of the 32 year old Mexican.

‘GGG’ turned 40 earlier in the year and their substance of opinion is a combination of age, his recent attritional fights and the talent and toughness of his opponent. Add to this the matter of weight with Golovkin coming up to the 168lbs fight limit from 160 (middleweight) and Canelo dropping down from recently fighting at 175lbs (light-heavyweight). Golovkin is not known to be a ‘big’ middleweight.

The main viewpoint centres around Canelo choosing his time wisely to finally agree to a third fight and basically waiting for Golovkin to age. The Kazakh in a comment this week sarcastically pointed to being thankful that Canelo hadn’t waited until GGG turned 50 !

Fighters do tend to age overnight; invariably in the ring and sometimes with difficult consequences. Think of the exceptional Oscar De La Hoya as a recent example in his loss to Manny Pacquiao, or Sugar Ray Leonard versus Terry Norris of yesteryear. Both legends who took a fight too many. The list is endless.

Kazakhstan’s Golovkin could join this unenviable list, but on the flip side to all this is the legendary performances of legendary fighters in the twilight of their careers. Robert Duran trading blows with Iran Barkley to win his fourth-weight division title, admittedly a few years shy of 40. George Foreman winning back the world heavyweight title at 45. Bernard Hopkins fighting and winning close to his 50’s. It can be done.

Golovkin will have both sides of the argument in the back of his mind. True, he’s been in ageing fights in recent years. Firstly, the twenty four rounds he’s already shared with Saturday’s opponent will have taken their toll, but so too on Canelo. The Kazakh won, in our view, the balance of the rounds across two fights, albeit not the decisions.

The main point of reference for the naysayers is the toe-to-toe exchanges with Sergiy Derevyanchenko three years ago. Golovkin came through that but with considerable combat experience. They point to him looking slower fight by fight, and yet he went to Japan this April and took the WBA middleweight title off Ryota Murata inside eight rounds, outboxing and outworking him along the way.

Golovkin has boxed at the elite level for over two decades, winning a silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He’s fought thousands of rounds against all comers from the steppes of Kazakhstan to the rings of New York and Vegas. Over that time he’s acquired and honed the skills of a battle-hardened and elite fighter. Add to that his power in registering a 42-1-1 (37 KO’s) record. Age will catch up with him, but whether that happens in this fight is not a forgone conclusion, like the polls and oddsmakers would indicate.

GGG finished his preparation in Big Bear, California and will be having his fifth fight under the tutelage of Johnathan Banks, a disciple of the legendary Kronk gym in Detroit. He will have added that toughness and ring savvy to his already elite skillset. Power could though be the key. Many point to Canelo’s granite chin, in predicting the outcome of this fight, however, those of a more mature disposition will recall a poleaxed Roberto Duran at the feet of Thomas Hearns in the 1980’s.

Our view is Saturday is a genuine 50-50 fight and Golovkin has a score to settle, don’t bet against the ‘unthinkable’ happening.

The final press conference is today with weigh-in on Friday.

Vegas Strip lowdown

Fight week day two and both fighters arrived at the MGM Grand this lunchtime for the massive super-middleweight world unification fight Saturday 17th at the nearby T-Mobile arena.

Both combatants looked a picture of health and primed for the challenge ahead. The lobby of the hotel concourse was packed with roughly 300 predominantly Mexican fans in attendance for their hero ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

Gennadiy Golovkin was the first to arrive entering to the strains of his signature tune The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’. Canelo kept him waiting on the dais for a good 30 minutes, and with the mariachi band straining their lungs, he eventually entered to a Mexican fanfare.

After several interviews and a tasty face-off Golovkin made his exit and left the stage to the eight years younger Canelo. The Mexican is a big favourite going in, with a recent poll by The Ring magazine amongst a number of experts returning a 20-0 split in Canelo’s favour. A staggering return given GGG has arguably won the majority of the 24 rounds completed between the two. It looks like the age discrepancy and the Kazakh being in more attritional fights since they last met in 2018 as being the deciding factors.

Friday’s weigh in will be telling when Canelo will show whether he’s successfully returned to 168 from 175lbs with no noticeable effect and on the flip side how comfortable GGG looks in the higher weight class, having moved up from middleweight at 160lbs.

Special mention today for Head of Matchroom Boxing, Eddie Hearn, who conducted interviews for close to two hours and when the masses had already left was the last to leave the dais. This illustrates why he may be the most successful promoter out there. Much maligned by some, but given his relentless schedule this is to be admired.

More on-site updates to follow as we move through fight week.

Vegas Strip lowdown

Replacing our regular features for one week only is live on-site coverage from Las Vegas.

Superfight III

Touchdown ! Day one of fight week and all’s a state of readiness on the famous Las Vegas Strip. Saturday 17th’s massive super-middleweight world title unification between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin awaits and our fight week will build from here. It’s a much anticipated contest and will be their third spectacular meeting.

The contest promoted by Matchroom and both fighter’s own companies will take place at the T-Mobile Arena, just behind New York New York on the renowned strip. It coincides with Mexican Independence Day weekend and current Ring magazine champion and Mexican hero ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will have massive national backing come Saturday. The influx of his countrymen is expected to rack up over the week with the margaritas flowing and mariachi bands resonating on fight night.

Kazakhstan’s ‘GGG’ arrived low key into the city on Sunday and because of his exciting style and, likeable but ice cold demeanour, will have plenty of backing. He likes to fight in the so-called ‘Mexican style’ with all guns blazing and taking risks which has endeared him to a large fan base. Any Canelo haters naturally gravitate towards the Kazakh.

It’s difficult though not to admire the Mexican fighter’s achievements, with him compiling a record of 57-2-2 (39 KO’s) and winning versions of world titles in four weight divisions. He’s fought in some of the best fights of the decade and only suffered his second loss when venturing back up to light-heavyweight earlier in the year, losing to Russian, Dmitry Bivol.

Golovkin brings to the contest unquestionable power. His 42-1-1 (37 KO’s) has resulted in the decimation of most top middleweights and he last journeyed to Japan earlier in the year to defend his IBF title against Ryota Murata.

The settling of a trilogy of fights, currently standing at one dubious draw and one victory to Canelo is the reason the fight’s been made, and why the interest and subsequent financial gains are high. This is backed up by the superb quality of the two previous encounters, the second being voted The Ring’s fight of 2018.

Much is being made of the age differential, with Golovkin at 40 and Canelo at 32. For many experts this will determine the fight in favour of the younger man. GGG though will have a different outcome on his mind and the strategy to make it happen. Both fighter’s chins are sure to be tested again.

This is a genuine superfight and will determine the premiere 160-168 pound fighter of this generation. The hall-of-fame already awaits both, but who reigns supreme will be determined on Saturday. It’s one not to be missed.

The event will be shown live and exclusive on DAZN pay per view and further daily updates will follow here.

The Weekender

Boxing queens Claressa Shields (left) and Savannah Marshall.
Photo courtesy: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER

We are living in historical times no doubt.

The decision by British sporting bodies to postpone most events this weekend as a mark of respect for Thursday’s sad passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II was in our view the right call, but for many understandably difficult to palate. No more was this felt, than in boxing.

Earlier Thursday, a hotel ballroom in London’s docklands hosted a packed final press conference for what would today be the first all-female world title boxing card to be held in the UK, and indeed worldwide. The event was (and still is) huge.

The fighters and media attendees were from all over the world and would have arrived at no small expense, and the fighters in particular were at a peak of readiness for the contests ahead. They are the main losers from the decision of this weekend.

British promotional company BOXXER led by founder and CEO Ben Shalom are the main promoter and had to break the news to all involved late yesterday afternoon after weigh-ins were delayed in the uncertainty. This would be the exact worst time for the fighters involved and delivering the news would not have been an easy task. The financial implications would also have been felt by all involved.

The decision of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) to postpone tournaments this weekend was made above the promoters, and BOXXER accepted this by issuing a statement that informed all but also reflected the feelings of the nation. A new provisional date of Saturday, 15 October 2022 has been stated at the same venue, London’s O2 Arena.

History was the backdrop to the promotion titled ‘Legacy’. The first all-female card, to be held before an anticipated 20,000 sold-out arena, and to be broadcast to a worldwide audience. For too long females have been tacked onto or hidden within male cards, today was to be their time.

The BOXXER, Sky Sports, Top Rank and Salita promoted event is groundbreaking and would be showcased live and exclusive on ESPN+ in the USA. The market stateside still has not fully accepted women’s boxing, despite the recent sold-out success of the Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano bout at Madison Square Garden, New York City. Elsewhere female fighters do not command any significant attention or financial backing.

In Thursday’s press conference Top Rank CEO and hall-of-fame promoter Bob Arum summed up the promotion “I wouldn’t miss this for the world, this is history…people will remember Saturday night for a long time to come, I’m honoured to be here”.

The event would have, and still undoubtably will, feature two sensational match-ups and a host of Olympians and prospects.

Top of the bill on October 15 will be double Olympic champion Claressa Shields from Flint, Michigan, USA against Savannah Marshall from Hartlepool, NE England. This is a genuine grudge match with a ten year back story and will be for the undisputed world middleweight (11st,6lbs/160lbs) championship.

The Ring magazine champion Shields, (12-0, 2 KO’s) and self-proclaimed GWOAT (greatest woman of all time) holds the WBC, IBF and WBA titles, Marshall (12-0, 10 KO’s) the WBO. They respect, but don’t like each other. Their rivalry has been played out over a game of social media tennis, only more recently being face-to-face. The verbal barbs continued, to the entertainment of all in Thursday’s press conference. Spice was further added by the camps and respective promoters.

To everyone’s credit the promoters have worked tirelessly to get this event together. Ben Shalom saying “It’s been incredible to have so much collaboration between promoters”. This will be part of the current disappointment. To get to this point within 36 hours of the event taking place and it to fall down due to matters outside of their control will be a massive blow.

The chief support in the re-scheduled date, and in the USA vying for the main event, is the unification fight between American’s Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner at junior-lightweight (9st,4lbs/130lbs). The impressive Mayer (17-0, 5 KO’s) was confident of victory and an exceptional fight ahead. Baumgardner (12-1, 7 KO’s) equally so, and this postponement will have hit them hard. Their verbal exchanges were matching those of Shields and Marshall and continued on social media after the announcement.

The trio of Team GB Olympians, Lauren Price, Karriss Artingstall and ‘Sweet’ Caroline Dubois will also have to wait for five weeks.

Tokyo gold medallist Price was due to face Timea Belik over six rounds at welterweight, Artingstall to face Marina Sakharov at featherweight, and Dubois would have faced Milena Koleva at lightweight. Those fights will hopefully be re-scheduled in their entirety.

Other young fighters on the card included April Hunter, Georgia O’Connor, Ebonie Jones and Shannon Ryan. All spoke excitingly and eloquently at the press conference and the word “privilege” was repeatedly mentioned. This was, and will be, a massive opportunity to showcase their talents.

In total there would have been eleven female contests of two-minute rounds. Unequivocally groundbreaking.

So, as much as the disappointment and financial hit is for now, let us accept the decision made and commemorate the life of an outstanding monarch and statesperson of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth territories, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She commanded respect for the fairer sex and these women boxers will build on that in five weeks’ time.

The Monday LunchBox

An ecstatic Natasha Jonas after unifying world super-welterweight titles.
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER

A week out from the biggest female boxing card ever to be held in the UK the current WBO super-welterweight champion Natasha Jonas took centre stage in Liverpool, England on Saturday 3rd.

Local heroine, ‘Miss GB’ Jonas, unified the WBO and WBC versions of the 154lb/10st title by outpointing Sweden’s Patricia Berghult by unanimous decision (99-91, 100-90, 100-90). Despite the margin of victory Jonas was made to work for it as Berghult showed a lot of heart throughout and had periods of success. In the end the always self-critical Jonas did enough to keep her opponent at bay and despite looking close to knocking Berghult down in the late rounds didn’t quite manage it. The Swede, despite losing her title, came out of the contest with a lot of credit and is young enough to challenge again.

The win marked the peak of Jonas professional career which has been built on an excellent amateur one. Clearly ecstatic on gaining the two belts she talked of further challenges post-fight and maybe a rematch with current pound-for-pound queen Katie Taylor is in the offering further down the line. Natasha improved to 12-2-1 (8 KO’s).

The Liverpool card which was justifiably criticised for its lack of competitive action down the bill, especially the one round blow outs from heavyweight Frazer Clarke and lightweight prospect Adam Azim did though feature a quality match up in a British light-heavyweight title fight. London’s Dan Azeez successfully made the first defence of his title against Shakan Pitters by hard fought unanimous decision (117-111, 117-112, 115-113).

In victory, Azeez re-staked his claim to be considered the best 175lbs (12st,7lbs) fighter in the country. In British boxing’s toughest division there are a lot of other contenders for that title, including Anthony Yarde, Joshua Buatsi and Callum’s Johnson and Smith among others. Azeez’ (17-0, 11 KO’s) come forward style is a throwback to the days of British title challengers and comparisons have been made with the Philadelphia fighters of yesteryear, high praise indeed. The ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler shorts may have something to do with that.

Top of the bill was the return of Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith in a contest made at light-middleweight but with the former WBO 154lbs champion checking in closer to the middleweight limit. The heavier division is where the money lies with potential match-ups with the winner of Chris Eubank Jr.-Conor Benn or Demetrius Andrade.

Smith (32-3-1, 19 KO’s) came through easily with a fourth round stoppage after his opponent Hassan Mwakinyou repeatedly complained of ankle problems and took a knee twice in the fourth before the referee waved it off after 1:46 of the round. The Liverpudlian is highly ranked by most sanctioning bodies and will be looking to secure a marquee fight next.

Main news from the US was the long overdue return of The Ring magazine and WBC junior-bantamweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (43-3, 28 KO’s) who retained his titles by unanimous decision against Argi Cortes. Promoters Matchroom announced straight after the holding of a trilogy fight for Estrada with old adversary Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-3, 41 KO’s) on 3rd December. This is a mouthwatering prospect as the record is 1-1 between the two in victories, both being excellent fights.

Finally, we saw the successful return of former unified heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. (35-2, 22 KO’s) who defeated perennial contender Luis Ortiz (33-3, 28 KO’s) by unanimous decision, dropping the Cuban three times en-route to become the #1 contender for the WBA title. This further adds to the intriguing heavyweight mix as we await confirmation of Usyk, Fury and Joshua’s next moves.

More to follow this week in the build up to the big female boxing event at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday 10th.

This weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the Ringside Charitable Trust.

The Friday Faceup

Promo courtesy of BOXXER.

Liverpool, north-west England is the focus of attention tomorrow night (September 3rd) in the UK with the big BOXXER promotion at the M&S Bank Arena on the city’s historic waterfront.

Local hero Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith (31-3-1, 18 KO’s) hopes to build on recent momentum by beating dangerous Tanzanian Hassan Mwakinyo (20-2, 14 KO’s) in a super-welterweight contest. The Liverpudlian is a former WBO world 154lbs/11st champion, who lost his title to former pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez back in 2016. Smith has subsequently rebuilt, recently switched promoters, and is now looking to secure a marquee fight and second ‘world’ title.

At 34, this is a must-win fight for Smith and if victorious there are good domestic showdowns with either the winner of Eubank Jr v Benn or other contenders on a world level.

Mwakinyo is 27 years old and now fights out of Florida, USA. He will undoubtedly come to fight but we expect Smith fighting on home territory, with his extensive experience at the highest level, to come through in a wide points decision.

Also on the bill is female WBO champion Natasha Jonas (11-2-1, 8 KO’s) who defends her super-welterweight title against Patricia Berghult (15-0, 3 KO’s). The 38 year old Jonas has elite amateur experience and with a solid pro-career behind her should have too much for the ten year younger Swedish challenger.

‘Super’ Dan Azeez (16-0, 11 KO’s) the current British light-heavyweight (12st, 7lbs/175lbs) champion and WBA world ranked #4 defends his domestic title against former champion Shakan Pitters (17-1, 6 KO’s) in an intriguing match up.

The challenger at 6′ 6″ towers over the compact Azeez and this should be a great contrast of styles with the champion forcing the pace and always coming to fight. Pitters only defeat was in losing his British title to world challenger Craig Richards so this will be a good test for Azeez before he hopefully mixes with the elite at domestic and world level. The light-heavyweight division is arguably the hottest in British boxing at the moment. Expect the champion from London, currently on an upward trajectory, to win on points in a tough attritional fight.

The, what on paper looks an entertaining card, also features Team GB Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Frazer Clarke (2-0, 2 KO’s) in another quick outing at heavyweight against Pencho Tsvetkov. ‘Big Fraze’ outweighed his opponent by 4 stone (56lbs) in today’s weigh-in so his largely unknown opponent is clearly up against it.

Slough, England’s explosive super-lightweight Adam ‘The Assassin’ Azim (5-0, 4 KO’s) also features and takes on Argentina’s Michel Cabral. Although no fighter from Argentina is to be underestimated, both British fighters should win their contests by impressive stoppage.

The BOXXER promoted show will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK from 19:00 BST.

Enjoy your fight weekend.

The PressBox

Promo courtesy of BOXXER.

A quiet week is starting to bubble with the announcement of former undisputed world super-lightweight champion Josh Taylor relinquishing his IBF title, the first of the world straps he picked up, to secure a rematch with Jack Catterall.

Taylor is aware he needs to put a wrong right by convincingly winning any rematch. Despite him thinking he won the first fight the weight of boxing opinion was on him squeaking through to retain his belts, many thinking the Lancastrian Catterall deserved the nod. No date has been announced yet but November 26 in Manchester is looking favourite. The Ring and WBO titles will likely be on the line.

Tyson Fury continues to toy the public over a world heavyweight unification fight with Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk. His claims of only taking the fight if someone would stump up £500 Million are ludicrous but at least he’s now come out of retirement and talking up the fight. The likely destination in early 2023 is on the Persian Gulf either in the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia. This will irk most British fight fans but is the new reality of big heavyweight title fights.

Meanwhile top rated heavyweights Joe Joyce and Joseph Parker home in on their September 24 date in Manchester. Both are top ten ranked by The Ring magazine and highly by the WBO, and the contest looks to be a humdinger. Both come to fight and a world title shot is on the line.

We’re only eleven days out from the massive unification contest between Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall to be contested at London’s O2 Arena on September 10. This middleweight contest between two fighters who’ve graduated from the London 2012 Olympics and remain undefeated as professionals is probably the best in women’s boxing at the moment. It promises and will likely elevate the female code to unprecedented heights in the UK. A sell out of the 20,000 venue is expected for all female card promoted by BOXXER and shown live on Sky Sports.

Former three-time world champion Duke McKenzie was honoured last weekend with the unveiling of a blue plaque above a former residence in his honour. An array of ex-British champs attended including brother Clinton McKenzie, former IBF world light-welterweight champion Terry Marsh among others. It was an honour a long time coming and well deserved.

Finally, preparations continue for the big Liverpool bill on Saturday September 3 featuring former WBO super-welterweight champion Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith. Local hero Smith has recently gone over to the BOXXER promotional company and he tops the bill at the M&S Arena against tough Tanzanian Hassan Mwakinyou. The bill also features another local favourite Natasha Jonas, British light-heavyweight champion Dan Azeez and big punching super-lightweight prospect Adam Aziz. Full preview to follow on Friday.

The Weekender

Gennadiy Golovkin (left) and Saul Alvarez in combat.
Photo: Getty Images.

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.

The Monday LunchBox

Oleksandr Usyk’s dominant jab tells the story of the fight.
Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing.

Usyk v Joshua II – What we learnt

  1. Oleksandr Usyk is an exceptional fighter and human being – The Ukrainian champion in the build up to the fight, through twelve completed rounds and in victory showed the true class of an elite champion. With his country still ravaged by war he gave his compatriots the brief respite of a night to remember. He insisted they be able to see him fight and to that end subsidised the broadcasting of the fight free to his nation. He never bad mouthed his opponent, sold the promotion and on the night displayed the skills and bravery of an exceptional champion. His split decision victory was the least he deserved, largely dictating the fight for it’s duration. The class he showed on the final bell and after the decision announcement, when Anthony Joshua took his limelight by unbelievably taking to the microphone, was exemplary. When finally getting his moment to thank God, his country and team he never made a mention or took issue with the preceding ten minutes. As a fighter he now stands alone as the heavyweight champion of the world (despite what Tyson Fury and his supporters may think) and is arguably boxing’s pound-for-pound king. His standing is already established and should he choose to retire, which is unlikely, then his legacy is secured as an elite champion and man.
  2. Anthony Joshua took the rematch too soon – How can you say that about a man who’s reputedly just earned £31M ? Well, setting that staggering amount aside we have to look at his attempt to regain the titles he lost in September 2021. He and his camp knew the challenge that Usyk presented. Joshua had shared twelve hard rounds with him trying to crack the Rubik’s cube of the Ukrainian southpaw. All his camp knew what to prepare for. This preparation though required more time and a better game plan. Ultimately, Joshua adopted the same tactic as he did in the first fight, albeit slightly more successfully. He was always in the fight but was second best.
  3. Saudi Arabia has had its boxing moment – The state backed promotion was a success, both nationally and globally. Then again it should have been for the outlay made. The Kingdom has in the last four years hosted three major boxing promotions, including two heavyweight championship fights, which have showcased the sport in that country and hopefully provided a legacy for the population to aspire to. Because of the substantial sums of money on offer and the state of the world economy big sporting events will continue to gravitate towards the Middle East. We have no issue with boxing being part of that, but enough is enough for now.
  4. Anthony Joshua is still a championship fighter – Despite on our card being a wide loser of the fight (116-112) his performance in light of the challenge before him was a good one. He competed throughout with an exceptional champion, but could never really find his way inside the southpaw stance and Usyk’s excellent jab to get any sustained success. His body attacks were significantly better in this fight and his best round was the ninth, when, for the first time there was doubt on the eventual outcome as Usyk retreated under the Brit’s onslaught. Joshua saw the final bell, which we admittedly didn’t predict, and in defeat showed he still has a lot left. He’s now boxed twelve rounds with a generational heavyweight champion and not been dropped or stopped. There are many marquee fights still out there for him (Fury, Wilder, Joyce). For now though he will remain at contender status, possibly settling a few domestic scores over the next 18 months, but if he can keep his motivation will undoubtedly fight for a title again. Rumour is December in London is the likely first step of Joshua’s rebuild.
  5. Usyk will fight Fury or retire – That was the main revelation from his post fight interview. The Ukrainian clearly sees only one challenge remaining to cap an outstanding career. He knows he will never be totally accepted as the champion from this era unless he meets and beats the ‘Gypsy King’. If Fury does indeed come out of retirement, as we expect and Twitter posts in the last 24 hours indicate, then it’s full steam ahead for a unification bout and the road to undisputed. Sadly though any protracted negotiations and fight staging issues will result in the titles becoming splintered again. Usyk holding the WBA, IBF and WBO titles will have mandatory obligations to all three sanctioning bodies to meet their #1 contender within a stipulated time. If the fight fails to be agreed then he will be stripped of their belts one by one. There’s also the larger matters of the Ukrainian being 35 years old and the continuing chaos in his home nation. If Fury delays terms we may not see the contest or Usyk fight again. That’s unlikely but a distinct possibility. This would be sad for him and boxing in general and let’s hope for the best outcome.

On the stacked Jeddah card there were also significant wins for light-heavyweight contender Callum Smith (28-1, 20 KO’s) in halting Mathieu Bauderlique with a devastating left hook in the fourth round, heavyweight Filip Hrgovic in defeating Zilhei Zhang narrowly on points in a gruelling and entertaining fight and, the second appearance of prospect Ben Whittaker in a six round decision win. Light-heavyweight Whittaker was the silver medallist in the Tokyo Olympics and continues his upward trajectory.

Stateside, the big news was WBO world featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete (36-1, 30 KO’s) defending his title by sixth round knockout of Eduardo Baez. Huge unification fights await the hard hitting Navarrete.

Expect further developments in the heavyweight mix this week as the Jeddah drama and results shake down.

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