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Leonard gives Canelo the edge against Golovkin

Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Sugar Ray Leonard boxing photo and news image

By Sean Jones: Former 5-division world champion Sugar Ray Leonard is leaning toward Saul Canelo Alvarez to defeat IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin in their rematch on May 5. At this time, Canelo is still under investigation for having tested positive twice for the performance enhancing drug clenbuterol last February.

Interestingly enough, Leonard wasn’t asked about his thoughts on Canelo’s positive drug test. That would have been something that boxing fans would have liked to have heard from him.

Leonard says he feels that Canelo, 27, has the edge over the unbeaten Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs), because he’s still a “student of the game.” Leonard doesn’t say whether he feels that Golovkin isn’t learning still, but it would seem that would be the case.

Leonard says he was fine with the first Canelo-Golovkin fight being ruled a 12 round draw last September. The boxing public felt otherwise. They saw Golovkin being robbed of a decision by the judges that worked the fight. Leonard wasn’t asked about his thoughts about the questionable scoring by two of the judges that worked the Canelo-GGG fight. One judge scored the fight in Alvarez’s favor by 10 rounds to 2, and another judge scored it 6 rounds to 6. That was the judge that had Canelo winning round 7.

It would have been nice if Leonard was asked about the strange scoring for the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight last September, because that’s why a lot of boxing fans felt that Golovkin was robbed. For Leonard not to be asked about the scoring by those two judges, it seems odd. When you have a judge scoring a fight that wide, you’ve got to talk about it. That’s one of the reasons why the whole fight looks like a sham in the eyes of many boxing fans.

“They respected each other a bit too much, and they had second thoughts of letting their punches go,” Leonard said to RingTV Digital of the first Canelo vs. Golovkin fight last September. “Punches in bunches, I didn’t see that. He [Canelo] didn’t go for broke. When you fight for a title, you have to give it your all. I didn’t have a problem with that [the fight being ruled a 12 round draw]. The fight was that close. The rematch is justified,” Leonard said.

Leonard is absolutely right about both fighters respecting each other too much. Canelo fought like he had no confidence that he could take Golovkin’s power with the way he fought on the ropes, and moving frequently. Canelo doesn’t usually fight like that. In the last three rounds of the fight, Canelo did start coming forward a little bit more in the first minute of each round. He fought well in the opening part of rounds 10, 11 and 12. However, Canelo would gas out immediately after one minute, and then he would spend the last two minutes of each of those rounds either running to his left or covering up on the ropes. I gave Golovkin rounds 10 and 11, and I had Canelo winning the 12th by a narrow margin.

”Fundamentally, I just think it was natural instinct,” Leonard said when asked by Steve Kim if Canelo came back hard in rounds 10, 11 and 12. “I think at some point it’s instinctive. It’s just natural for them to do, especially when a fight is that close. We as fighters, we know when we’re behind. We know when we’re losing. No one needs to tell us. We know it. Fighters know that instinctively. So you pick up the tempo, you pick up the pace and that’s what we saw,” Leonard said.

Canelo only fought hard in the first minute of the last three rounds against Triple G. Canelo was gassed out after 60 seconds of each round. Even before the one minute mark, Canelo would turn red in the face from having thrown a small hand full of shots, and he would then start running. The interviewer didn’t mention that to Leonard. It would have been nice for them to go over the replay of the Canelo-Golovkin fight in slow motion, so they actually see how tired Canelo got in the first minute of the last three rounds. Asking Leonard to give his thoughts about the Canelo-GGG fight based on his memory of it from last year, it wasn’t the best way to do it.

“They both have,” Leonard said when asked if Canelo has more motivation for the rematch. “They both want to win clearly. They both want to win. You go inside, you throw your stuff, and go back outside. You get your punches off, and you go back out and get out of harm’s way. Both fighters have to be at their best mentally, because this is not about physicality. This is about mental,” Leonard said.

The interview question of whether Canelo has more motivation was a crazy one. It goes without saying that both fighters have tons of motivation to win the rematch and perform better. Both guys know they didn’t fight hard enough in the first fight, and they want to improve upon their performances. It’s not just Canelo. Golovkin knows he didn’t fight the way he should have last time. He admits he didn’t attack enough, and he didn’t throw body shots. He wants to improve. Canelo says his goal is to knock Golovkin out in the rematch. If Canelo is serious, then he’s going to be looking to go to war with Golovkin in the way he did in his fights with Miguel Cotto and Liam Smith. Canelo showed courage in both of those fights. But he was also the bigger and stronger fighter compared to Smith and Cotto. Canelo wasn’t facing a guy with more natural size and punching power than him. Canelo will need to show some real courage in the Golovkin fight, because he’s no longer the bully. Canelo is fighting a guy with more power, size, experience and boxing ability than himself.

“The first time around, I gave Triple G the edge, because I just felt he had a little bit more, a little bit more seasoned than Canelo,” Leonard said. ”This time I’m giving Canelo, because he is still a student of boxing, he’s learning. But to win this fight, he has to have all A’s,” Leonard said.

Leonard is selling Golovkin short by saying that Canelo will win because he’s a student of boxing. That remark implies that Golovkin isn’t a student of the game. Golovkin is an Olympic silver medal winner, and he’s held world titles at 160 for 8 years in a row. You don’t win like that if you’re a student of the game.

As I mentioned before, Leonard didn’t comment about Canelo’s positive clenbuterol test. That question should have been asked of him so that the boxing fans know what Leonard’s opinion is about how well Canelo will fight if he cycled on clenbuterol before the start of training camp. Canelo did test positive for clenbuterol. If he went through an entire cycle of the performance enhancing drug before he started training camp, it would be interesting to know if Leonard feels that this will give Canelo an even bigger edge against GGG. Leonard says Canelo will have an edge over Golovkin because he’s a “student of boxing,” but what about if he’s also been using clenbuterol? Will give Canelo even more of an edge? Can Golovkin beat Canelo if he’s used clenbuterol before his training camp started?

”There’s not that much of a difference,” Leonard said about whether Canelo will be better in the rematch with Golovkin because he’s fighting for the second time at middleweight. ”Moving up in weight is not that easy. It’s not like ABCs. You have to be solid. You have to be ready. Your body has to be accustomed to fighting at that weight. I think this fight is so psychological. Physically, I don’t think it’s going to make a difference, but mentally, psychologically, that’s what’s going to happen,” Leonard said.

It’s nonsense to think Canelo will perform better because this is the second time he’s fought at middleweight. Canelo has been fighting at middleweight since 2014. Canelo has fought 6 times at middleweight and 1 time at super middleweight in the last 4 year. The interviewer asked Leonard what he thought about Canelo being possibly improved because he’s fighting for the second time at middleweight. The reality is, Canelo has been fighting at 155, which is at middleweight, since 2014 in his fight against Alfredo Angulo. Canelo had 5 catch-weight fights at 155 before he moved up to super middleweight to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at a catch-weight of 164.5 lbs. last year in May. After that fight, Canelo fought Golovkin at the full weight of 160 lbs. for their fight last September, and he looked like the bigger guy than him.

”That is a factor to the norm,” Leonard said when asked if Golovkin’s is now going to be a factor for the Canelo rematch due to him about to turn 36. ”They called me old and past my prime at 32. So it’s what you feel, and what you have left. What we lose as we get older is the eye of the tiger. You lose that edge. You lose that drive. Your life is expanding, expanding, expanding. You lose that drive, but it’s not always lost, so it depends on what Triple G brings to the table,” Leonard said.

Golovkin’s age didn’t seem to be a factor at all last September, as he was the better conditioned fighter by far. Just going by the way the two fought in terms of energy levels, Canelo fought like a fighter in his mid-30s and Golovkin fought like he was in his mid-20s. Canelo’s cardiovascular system was absolutely terrible in that fight. Age-wise, Canelo was the older fighter by far due to his poor stamina.

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