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Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Canelo Alvarez next huge fight

Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin boxing photo

By Jim Dower: Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) now have the spotlight all to themselves for their September 16 fight now that the “event” fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor is thankfully over. The Canelo-Golovkin is a “true fight,” as Golovkin likes to call it.

The Triple G vs. Canelo fight pits two of the best middleweights against each other in what promises to be a real barn buster from start to finish. We don’t know how good Canelo is at the middleweight level, being that he’s still unproven in this weight class. We do know how good Golovkin is. He’s considered the best in the middleweight division right now. Canelo is just one of 4 good contenders that are trying to remove Golovkin from his throne at the top of the 160 lb. division.

Canelo, 27, is a lot younger than the 35-year-old Golovkin. The youth, speed, speed and popularity of Canelo gives him the best chance of beating Golovkin. Canelo is fighting Golovkin at the right time. Golden Boy picked the best time to make this fight. If they had done the fight 2 years ago, Canelo might have been shelled into submission by GGG. Now that Golovkin is 35 and coming off of two unimpressive performances in a row, Canelo has a chance to beat him. Golovkin is still the bigger, stronger and the more rugged of the two even now.

Canelo has not shown the ability to get into the trenches and slug it out for long periods of time. Canelo fights hard in short bursts of activity followed by periods of rest during his fights. Golovkin is the opposite. He goes all out in his fights, burning out his opponents until the fight is stopped. Golovkin’s last contest against Danny Jacobs was a departure from his usual slugging style. Golovkin beat Jacobs by using his jab and boxing him for 12 rounds. It proved effective, but it made the fight closer than it should have been. Golovkin decided not to use the Dmitry Pirog blueprint in how to beat Jacobs by pressuring him and taking advantage of his less than sturdy chin. Golovkin still had Jacobs hurt on a number of occasions during their fight last March, but he didn’t take advantage of it by going after him. Some boxing fans feel that Golovkin let Jacobs go the full 12 rounds to lure Canelo and Golden Boy into finally agreeing to fight him. If that was Golovkin and his team’s plan, it worked brilliantly. Not long after the Golovkin-Jacobs fight was over, Golden Boy started to show serious interest in wanting to make the Canelo-GGG fight. The question is did Golden Boy make the Golovkin fight because they saw enough weakness in him from the Jacobs fight for them to feel comfortable to finally put their golden goose Canelo in with him? We’ll never know for sure. If this was a trick by Golovkin to purposefully make himself look vulnerable against Jacobs to get Golden Boy to let him fight their flagship fighter Canelo, it worked perfectly. Golden Boy has let Canelo off his leash and now the fight against Golovkin has been made.

What you have to fear though is Golden Boy reverting back to the protectionism they had showed in the past with Canelo if things don’t play out well for him against Golovkin. If Canelo gets knocked out by Golovkin, it would be a shame if Golden Boy returns to the soft match-making for their red-headed Mexican star Canelo that they’ve been doing for most of his career. The boxing world don’t want to see Canelo matched against fodder opposition any longer. If Canelo isn’t good enough to beat the best at 154 and 160, then that needs to be shown. Canelo will still be popular even if he can’t ever defeat guys like Golovkin, Danny Jacobs, Jermall Charlo, David Lemieux or Sergiy Derevyanchenko. It just means that Canelo would need to be moved back down to 154, where his limited size isn’t so much of a liability. You can argue that Canelo is this era’s version of 5’7” Miguel Cotto. Canelo, 5’8”, is a slightly bigger, faster and better version of Cotto. As we’ve seen with Cotto, he can beat a lot of good fighters, but he’s struggled against the taller and faster fighters. Canelo has struggled in the same way.

The fans have wanted the GGG-Canelo fight for ages now, and it should have taken place 2 years ago. Golden Boy chose to steer Canelo around Golovkin, putting him in with Alfredo Angulo, James Kirkland, Amir Khan and Liam Smith. The casual boxing fans didn’t mind. They liked those fights, not realizing that Canelo was not facing the best from this era. He was facing guys from yesterday. The hardcore boxing fans strongly believed Golden Boy Promotions were protecting their money fighter Canelo from Triple G, because he was the only PPV attraction in their stable. The soft match-making for Canelo hasn’t stopped until now. Canelo’s last fight was an embarrassing one against a weight drained, past his prime Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on May 6. The fight was terrible to watch, considering how depleted, weak and slow Chavez Jr. looked against Canelo. Of all the fighters that Golden Boy had to pick from to put in the ring with Canelo, they chose one of the poorest. That fight made it clear to some boxing fans that Golden Boy has been protecting Canelo like an asset rather than matching him tough all these years since his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013.

HBO pay-per-view will be televising the Canelo-Golovkin fight from the sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The fight sold out recently. That’s an excellent indication of how much fan interest there is in the Canelo and Golovkin fight. Mayweather-McGregor still wasn’t sold out in the week of the fight despite huge interest. There appears to wide interest from the hardcore boxing fans in the GGG-Canelo fight, as they know it’s a fight that actually means something rather than it being an oddball match-up between a UFC fighter and a past his best Mayweather. The winner of the Triple G and Canelo fight will continue to fight in boxing. These aren’t guys just coming back to collect a pay check at the public’s expense and then disappear back into retirement.

Golovkin-Canelo has been building for the last couple of years, with Golovkin chasing the fight and wondering why Canelo’s promoters at Golden Boy Promotions were so reluctant to make it. Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya said the fight needed to marinate to help create more interest in the match. Whether that is true or not is unclear. The fight would have likely done just as well if it had happened 2 years ago rather than now. Canelo won the WBC middleweight title last year after beating Miguel Cotto in a catch weight fight at 155 lbs. The World Boxing Council ordered Canelo to defend his WBC title against Golovkin. It appeared that Canelo was going to take the fight, but he then vacated the belt and moved back down to 154 to fight Lima Smith. The move led boxing fans to conclude that Canelo had run from GGG. It must have been difficult for Canelo for him to walk away from the Golovkin fight, as he was branded a chicken by a lot of the boxing fans. Canelo has since beaten Smith, Amir Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Those are good B-level fighters. Chavez Jr. was an excellent talent back in the day, but he was a shell of his former self by the time he was selected to fight Canelo. The 155 lb. catch-weight fight against Cotto and then the subsequent title defense against Khan, it didn’t prove that Canelo was a true middleweight champion. He beat a small junior middleweight in Cotto, who had won the WBC middleweight title against 40-year-old Sergio Martinez.

Cotto picked the right moment in Martinez’s career to fight him after he got old and had a knee problem. It was a bad idea for Golden Boy to have Canelo defend his WBC middleweight title against welterweight Amir Khan, and then vacate the belt rather than face Golovkin. It seemed odd for Canelo to face Khan in 2016 to begin with, because it made it necessary for him to move up in weight 2 divisions from 147 to face Canelo. That’s the type of fight that Canelo could have gotten away with when he was still fighting at 154, but not in the middleweight division. Surprisingly, Khan dominated Canelo in the first 5 rounds, appearing to win 4 of the first 5 before getting knocked out in round 6. While the scoring by the judges assigned to the Canelo-Khan fight didn’t indicate how badly was getting beaten, the boxing fans saw it and they weren’t impressed. Khan was out-boxing Canelo though the first 5 rounds and making it look easy. Canelo ended up using his size and power to eventually stop Khan in round 6, but it was a shallow victory because of how bad he had looked against a lighter fighter with a history of having chin problems.

On September 16, the boxing world will finally see if Canelo is the next big legitimate star that can carry the sport on his back for the next 10 years like his De La Hoya has been saying he is. If Canelo is beaten badly by Golovkin, as some boxing fans predict, then Golden Boy will need to go back to the drawing board to try and someone else that can carry the sport for the next 10 years. Canelo won’t be the guy to do it.




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