The fight that took place three weeks ago may have grabbed all the headlines, but the true boxing match that will take place in Las Vegas this weekend is what hardcore fans of the sweet science have been waiting on for a long time.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin is finally here.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor was fun, but it lacked substance and never had a chance to become the “fight of the decade” like this matchup.
While this will undoubtedly be the better fight, the average sports fan couldn’t pick Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez out of a lineup while wearing a name tag, while they know Mayweather and McGregor well, so here’s what you need to know going into this mega-fight.
Age – 27
Record – 49 wins-1 loss-1 no decision-34 knockouts
Height – 5’9”
Normal Weight Division – 155 pounds (Canelo catchweight)
Reach – 70.5 inches
Titles – Former WBC, WBO, and WBA Junior Middleweight Champion, Former WBC and Lineal Middleweight Champion
Age – 35
Record – 37 wins-0 losses-0 no decisions-33 knockouts
Height – 5’10” 1/2
Normal Weight Division – 160 pounds (Middleweight)
Reach – 70 inches
Titles – Silver Medal at 2004 Olympics, current WBC/IBF/WBA Middleweight Champion
Negotiations Took a Long Time:
Gennady Golovkin made his American TV debut in 2012 and began winning over boxing fans immediately, but despite his success in the ring and popularity among boxing fans, he had a hard time attracting the biggest names in the sport into the squared circle for a match.
Golovkin fought and defeated top 10 middleweights at the time like Matthew Macklin and Daniel Geale, but the box office draws didn’t view the risk of a possible loss worth taking until the money became too big to ignore, or they became contractually obligated.
Knowing they needed to apply pressure to force at least a conversation about making a match, Golovkin and his team took—and won—a fight against Marco Antonio Rubio in October 2014 to win an interim belt, which made GGG the mandatory challenger to lineal middleweight champion Miguel Cotto.
Canelo Alvarez won a showdown with Cotto a year later in November 2015, but was reluctant to immediately make a match with his mandatory challenger. His promoter—Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions—negotiated with GGG’s team to delay their fight and allow Canelo to fight welterweight British star Amir Khan, while they allowed their eventual matchup to “marinate.”
Canelo defeated Khan by knockout in May 2016, called GGG into the ring after the match, and proceeded to say that he would take the match because, “Mexicans don’t f— around.” However, after the bravado brought on by the cameras faded away, Canelo and his team again declined to face Golovkin and as a result were forced to forfeit the middleweight championship.
After years of fights over what weight the fight would take place at, how to split the money, and another 12 months of he said/he said, the two teams finally agreed to a deal which was announced last May in WWE type fashion immediately after Canelo’s victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Styles Make Fights:
Part of what makes this match so intriguing to fight fans is the feeling of guaranteed action.
Canelo and GGG are both aggressive fighters who nearly always make entertaining fights, and never look to “run” during their fights as part of a defensive strategy.
They’re both strong-willed and neither man has been pushed around or physically dominated in a fight, so what happens if one of these fighters is confronted with that moment?
Both men also feel it is their obligation to make their fights entertaining for the paying audience, and react like sharks in the water to finish off opponents when they sense weakness instead of leaving it in the hands of judges, so that type of mindset should create fireworks in the ring.
This has the look of a fight that will be fought “in a phone booth,” with neither guy willing to back up or concede turf to their opponent.
Canelo is at his best counter-punching, but it’s not wise to let a brilliant offensive fighter like Golovkin be the aggressor and throw more punches. Golovkin’s punches are also short, compact, accurate, and rarely wide, so finding room in between to land those counter punches won’t be easy.
Golovkin wants to come forward, but that could play into Canelo’s strengths as mentioned above. If Canelo does have one big weakness it’s that his footwork and foot speed is inferior to Golovkin, and he struggles to punch on the move, instead needing to stop and setup first.
Golovkin defeated another big puncher with similar weaknesses—David Lemieux—by making him move and using his jab to disrupt timing, so that might be his game plan in this fight despite his normal instinct to come forward and throw combinations.
Golovkin Wins If…
He uses his jab well to both keep distance, and disrupt Canelo’s rhythm.
Golovkin will have the advantage when they’re fighting on the outside, so making Canelo walk through an active jab is critical to maintaining distance. It will also be more difficult for Canelo to set himself and load up on power shots if he’s constantly getting hit with a stiff jab as he comes forward.
Canelo has looked uncomfortable fighting on the move in the past and rarely fights going backwards, so while Golovkin can’t move like Erislandy Lara, he should pressure Canelo with his jab and test the younger fighter’s ability to throw with power while backpedaling.
Golovkin throws great hooks to the body, but that’s also Canelo’s best punch. As the saying in boxing goes, “don’t throw hooks with a hook-er,” so GGG should instead look to counter over the top of Canelo’s left hooks with a powerful straight right, and mix in counter uppercuts when Canelo lunges in from distance.
If Golovkin does these things and is able to hurt Canelo, he’ll get the stoppage because no one cuts off the ring and finishes off their opponents better than him.
Canelo Wins If…
He lands his counter uppercuts between the combinations of Golovkin, and lands his killer left hook to the body frequently. Canelo’s combinations can often be wider than that of Golovkin, so tightening those up and resisting the urge to lunge with power punches from the outside that open up his defense to counter punches is also key.
Canelo will be better served making this an inside fight, he has to stay off the ropes, and will have to prove he has the footwork and jab necessary to keep getting inside on the taller fighter.
Golovkin uses superior footwork and a powerful jab to score points with the judges, keep Canelo off-balance and uncomfortable, and controls the fight in similar fashion to his win over David Lemieux in October 2015.
Golovkin by unanimous 12 round decision, 116-112.