By Sean Jones: Bernard ‘B-Hop’ Hopkins doesn’t want Gennady Golovkin to break his record of 20 title defenses this Saturday night when he faces Saul Canelo Alvarez in a rematch at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hopkins says Golovkin has a 50-50 chance of beating Canelo, who he personally promotes as part of Golden Boy Promotions.
Hopkins says that he thinks Canelo will beat Golovkin, but he’s still not sure whether he will.
Canelo and his trainers Chepo and Eddy Reynoso aren’t worried about records on Saturday. They’re just hoping that they can beat GGG this time, because they came up short last time in being held to a controversial 12 round draw. They were extremely lucky to get that draw and likely know it. There won’t be any records on the line for them, as Canelo is not a world champion at middleweight. If Canelo beats Golovkin, it’ll be his first real world title in the weight class. Canelo beat former WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto in November 2015, but that was at a catch-weight of 155 pounds and not at the full weight for the middleweight division at 160. That was back during Canleo’s catch-weight phase of his career, which started in 2013 with his fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and lasted until 2017. That was roughly four years of almost continuous catch-weight fights for Canelo. He had six catch-weight fights out of the seven fights that he had during four-year period from 2013 to 2017. Canelo’s only non-catch-fight came when he moved down to 154 to defeat WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith in September 2016.
Canelo-GGG 2 takes place this Saturday night on HBO PPV at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Hopkins record of 20 title defenses is largely overrated, as most of the wins that he had during his time as a middleweight champion were over guys that wouldn’t measure up in this era. We’re talking about a lot of fighters that would like be little more than journeyman in this era. You can’t blame Hopkins for the low level opposition that was around during his time as the middleweight champion. Hopkins beat the guys that were around at the time, but the fact of the matter is, Hopkins was a world champion at middleweight during a particularly weak era for the division between 1995 to 2005. When he division suddenly heated up in 2005 with the emergence of U.S Olympian Jermain Taylor, Hopkins lost twice to him and then bailed out from the division.
Hopkins somehow sees his time as a middleweight champion as validating his greatness. However, the reality is, Hopkins didn’t fight anyone particularly good during his 20 title defenses at middleweight. Hopkins dominated at 160 during a weak era and once someone good came alone in Jermain Taylor, he lost to him twice. Hopkins lost to Roy Jones Jr. when he was still in the prime of his career, and he had already moved up in weight to 175 when Golovkin emerged as the best fighter in the 160 pound weight class. It’s too bad Hopkins didn’t stick around 160 long enough to face GGG, but likely wouldn’t have mattered. Jermain Taylor exposed Hopkins twice and sent him on his way, leaving the middleweight division rather than sticking around as a mere contender.
“I’d say GGG got a 50-50 chance to break the record. But this ain’t no gimme. If he’s going to break this record, he will have to earn it against Canelo,” Hopkins said to ESPN.com. ” I need my guy Canelo to win,” Hopkins said. “It’s one thing to be on the business side of it and another thing personally.”
The odds-makers would disagree with Hopkins about this Saturday’s rematch between Canelo and GGG being a 50-50 affair. They have Golovkin has a clear favorite to win the rematch. The reason for that is a number of things. Canelo was tired most of the fight with GGG last September, and he never showed that he could stand up to him when the two of them were trading shots. Canelo’s two positive tests not long after their fight for clenbuterol, and his loss of muscle size has a lot of boxing fans doubting his chances of beating GGG the second time around. With his loss of muscle size, the 5’8” Canelo is no longer looking like a middleweight. He’s once again looking like a small junior middleweight, and that’s not good given that he’s facing arguably the best middleweight in the division.
The 12 round draw that Canelo was given by the Nevada judges in the first fight with Golovkin is seen largely as a gift that he didn’t rate. The element of surprise is gone for Canelo in the rematch with GGG. Canelo can’t use the movement and spoiling on the ropes that he used in the first fight with Golovkin to surprise him. Canelo only has one option now to try and beat GGG and that’s for him to try and come forward and beat him the old fashioned way by standing and slugging with him.
Given Canelo’s lack of size, power and stamina, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll find success in going to war with Golovkin on Saturday. The best thing that Canelo can hope for is to go 12 rounds and then possibly get a decision win. The stamina issues that Canelo showed in the first fight and in many of his other fights as a pro will make it extremely hard for him to win a decision unless he gets the same kind of judging as the last time he fought Golovkin. With the boxing world seeing Golovkin as being ripped off in the previous fight with GGG, it’s unlikely that Cnelo can win the fight by a decision unless he actually dominates. In other words, if Canelo is to win the fight on Saturday, he’s going to need to dominate in the real sense and not get crazy scoring by the judges with them giving it to him by scores that don’t match the fight that took place inside the ring.
Hopkins set his record for title defenses from 1995 to 2005. Hopkins took advantage of Roy Jones Jr. moving out of the middleweight division after he soundly beat him in 1993. Had Jones stuck around at 160, it’s highly unlikely that Hopkins would have been able to do much in the weight class other than be the No.2 during that 10 year era. However, once Jones Jr. cleared out from the division in moving up to first 168 and then 175, Hopkins took advantage of the weak competition in the weight class. Hopkins dominated weaker opposition until finally a good middleweight emerged in 2005 in Jermain Taylor and he lost to him twice. Hopkins then moved up to light heavyweight and took advantage of a weak division to win world titles in that weight class.
Hopkins set his record for 20 title defenses beating these mostly weak opponents:
• Steve Frank
• Joe Lipsey
• William Bo James
• John David Jackson
• Glen Johnson
• Andrew Council
• Simon Brown
• Robert Allen – *Hopkins fought Allen three times after B-Hop was injured after being pushed out of the ring in round 4. Fighting Allen three times was hardly unnecessary, as two fights was more than enough after Hopkins beat him by a 7th round knockout in their second fight in February 1999. Fighting Allen a third time in June 2004 was mind-boggling. There was no point in a third fight
• Antwun Echols -* Hopkins fought Echols twice. It’s unclear why Hopkins chose to fight Echols a second time, as he beat him by a one-sided 12 round decision in their first fight in December 1999. There was no reason for a second fight with Echols two fights later in December 2000. It looked like Hopkins was padding his record in facing Echols a second time needlessly
• Syd Vanderpool
• Keith Holmes
• Felix Trinidad – Felix, a former welterweight world champion, moved up from the 147 pound weight class to first 154 and then 160 and clearly didn’t belong in either of those two weight classes. Trinidad’s best weight class was at 147.
• Carl Daniels
• Morrade Hakkar
• William Joppy
• Oscar De La Hoya – Oscar moved up from welterweight and was way too small to be fighting Hopkins
• Howard Eastman – this was Hopkins’ final title dense of his middleweight titles, as he was beaten twice in a row by Jermain Taylor after that.
Hopkins didn’t do much at middleweight as far as defeating talented fighters that belonged in the weight class. The best guys that Hopkins beat at middleweight were De La Hoya and Trinidad. Those guys were in their prime at 147. Hopkins lost when he finally had to fight someone good in Jermain Taylor. That’s the reality of the situation. Hopkins didn’t stay around the middleweight division to fight Taylor a third time like he did in fighting Robert Allen three times. It would have been nice to see Hopkins fight Taylor a third time, but he probably would have lost the fight.
After Hopkins moved out of the 160 pound weight class, he had his best success in his career in defeating these fine fighters:
• Antonio Tarver
• Kelly Pavlik – The fight took place at a catch-weight at light heavyweight, which was 10 pounds above the middleweight division where Pavlik was fighting at. Whether Hopkins could have beaten Pavlik at the regulation weight for the middleweight division at 160 is unclear. We’ll never know for sure because he chose to fight Pavlik at light heavyweight
• Winky Wright – Hopkins beat Wright at a catch-weigh at 170. Wright’s best weight division was at 154. He clearly didn’t belong fighting at light heavyweight against Hopkins.
• Jean Pascal
• Beibut Shumenov
• Tavoris Cloud
In the last two years of Hopkins’ career, he didn’t do much after his win over Shumenov in 2014. Hopkins lost to Sergey Kovalev by a 12 round unanimous decision in 2014 and then stayed out of the ring for two years before finishing his career in falling out of the ring in the 8th round in getting stopped by Joe Smith Jr. in 2016. It was a horrible way to see Hopkins end his career in falling out of the ring against Smith and not getting back in to continue fighting.
“Gennady doesn’t just fight Mexican Style, he fights like a Philadelphia fighter of old,” Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez said to skyspoirts.com. ”Don’t be surprised if Gennady ends things using a punch that is a throwback to those days – a classic liver shot – to puncture the Canelo myth once and for all. Bernard was the first fighter to stop Oscar and Gennady is looking to be the first one to stop Canelo.”
Sanchez could be right about his prediction of GGG stopping Canelo this Saturday night. Canelo was clearly hurt by Austin Trout and Floyd Mayweather Jr. with body shots in those fights. Golovkin hits a lot harder than those two fighters. If he targets Canelo’s bread basket this Saturday, it could produce the results that he’s hoping for as long as long as he doesn’t run from him like he did much of the time in the first fight last year. Hopefully that won’t be the case on Saturday night because it’ll make the fight unwatchable for the boxing fans that pay to see it live at the T-Mobile Arena and on HBO PPV. There are a lot of fans that will be watching the Canelo vs. GGG 2 fight in the movie theaters as well. They’re not going to appreciate it very much if Canelo gets on his bike to escape the pressure that he puts on him.
In the undercard of this Saturday’s GGG vs. Canelo 2 rematch, WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia (30-0, 25 KOs) defends against Brandon Cook (20-1, 13 KOs) in the co-feature bout on the card. This is not a great match-up, I hate to say Golden Boy has found a soft touch for the 21-year-old Munguia to get a sure thing win against. Cook is a step down from Munguia’s last fight against former WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith, who he beat by a 12 round unanimous decision last July.
Former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux (39-4, 33 KOs) and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (28-2, 20 KOs) fight it out in a 12 round fight that could have huge ramifications for the winner of the contest. The winner could face Canelo regardless of what his outcome is against GGG on Saturday.
Former pound-for-pound star Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs) will be trying to interrupt his career slide in facing former flyweight world champion Moises Fuentes (25-5-1, 14 KOs) in a fight scheduled for 10 rounds. Chocolatito has lost his last two fights to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and he badly is in need of a win right now. Another loss for Gonzalez and it puts his career on skid row. Fuentes is a good fighter, but he’s not a top guy at 115. If Gonzalez can’t beat Fuentes, then it’s pretty much time for him to hang up his gloves because there are much better fighters in the super flyweight division than him. Gonzalez obviously made a huge blunder in choosing to move up to super flyweight after finding success at minimumweight, light flyweight and flyweight. Those were much better divisions for Gonzalez than at super flyweight. Gonzalez’s first fight at super flyweight against Carlos Cuadras should have been a wake up call for him that he doesn’t have the size, power and fighting style to hang with the best in that division. If Gonzalez had moved back down to 112 after his fight with Cuadras, he likely would have been fine, but he chose to stick it out at 115 and he’s had nothing but problems ever since in losing twice to Rungvisai while taking terrible punishment.