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Gennadiy Golovkin turns 38 today

Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

By Barry Holbrook: Gennadiy Golovkin turned 38 on Wednesday, and it’s looking like his next fight could be against Canelo Alvarez in a trilogy fight. Both guys were supposed to be taking interim matches before facing each other on September 12, but the pandemic will likely cause those fights to be canceled.


It’s a good thing for boxing fans that Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KOs) and Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) will likely be facing each other next. There’s no desire by people to see Canelo take on WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders and IBF 160-lb champion Golovkin to battle his IBF mandatory Kamil Szeremeta.

This could be the final time Golovkin and Canelo fight. And for that reason, GGG is going to need to fight a lot differently than he did in his first two clashes against Canelo.

Golovkin already found out that the judges aren’t going to give him a win over Canelo when he boxes him. As the saying goes, ‘You don’t box a boxer.’  What Golovkin must do is attack Canelo and treat him like he’s just an opponent.

Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

GGG the underdog for Canelo fight

“How big of an underdog is Golovkin for a third fight with Canelo,” asked Chris Mannix on his SI Podcast.

“He’s an underdog, no doubt about it,” said Dan Rafael about Golovin in a third fight with Canelo Alvarez. “He won against Rolls, but he did not look that good. He got touched up a little bit more than you would have thought. There were a lot of people that thought he lost to [Sergiy] Derevyanchenko, period.

“Even if you thought he won the fight, it was an extremely grinding, difficult, hard [fight]. It was probably the worst physical abuse that GGG has ever taken in his entire career, and that includes both fights against Canelo Alvarez.

“So while Golovkin is still a fantastic fighter, he’s still pound-for-pound quality, and still at the top of the sport. I think he’s still one of the top middleweights in the world. It’s very obvious this is not an anti-GGG.

“I’m one of the biggest GGG guys out there…He’s on the other side of the mountain and still on top, but he’s on the decline. That’s all there is to it. It may not be a massive decline, but clearly, he’s lost a little bit, even if you want to be charitable,” said Rafael.

With Canelo the favorite over Golovkin, it could mean that close rounds will go to him. Golovkin and trainer Johnathon Banks need to study the first two Canelo fights in find out what works and hasn’t worked.

When Golovkin tried to box Canelo, he didn’t impress the judges. Although Golovkin appeared to win the first fight, the judges weren’t impressed. They scored it a draw and ignored all the excellent boxing that Golovkin did. In the rematch, it was the same thing.

Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

Golovkin’s best option to beat Canelo

“Canelo still looks fantastic and is still adding to his arsenal. He’s not taking punishment in his fights, he’s training his rear end off, and has got a good team around him. He’s still in my mind, still in his prime at age 29. I think by the time they meet a third time, we may get a more definitive outcome in terms of Canelo winning a fight.

With GGG, his best bet is to let it all hang out, and run right through it and make it a Hagler vs. Hearns fight just to see if he can blast him. The one thing that GGG still has that has not gone away with is he can still crack, and still has great punching power. Why not see if you can land one of those great shots, and just go for it?

“I think that maybe his only chance. I don’t think he’ll outbox Canelo in a third fight, but maybe he can clip him and knock him out,” said Mannix. “On Golovkin, he made the trainer change over a year ago, and he’s had a couple of fights with Johnathon banks.

“How would you evaluate that? He [Golovkin] didn’t look great last year. How much would you put on Banks with what he’s done, and how much is it with Golovkin and where he is with his career?”

The only gameplan that has a chance of working for Golovkin against Canelo is if he attacks him hard and looks to destroy him in the first couple of rounds.

Banks can’t make Golovkin not show his age

“You never really know. When he fought Steve Rolls, that was his first fight with John,” said Rafael about Golovkin. “They had the news conference in Vegas when they announced that Johnathon would become Gennadiy’s new trainer.

“Johnathan is a very knowledgable boxing trainer, he learned from Emanuel Steward, and he had a very good career as a heavyweight. He was under no false illusion that he was suddenly in a matter of a few weeks was going to make a dramatic change to GGG, and GGG didn’t need any dramatic change.

“He just needed someone there to make sure he was in shape and run through things the proper way. Whatever went down in the Steve Rolls fight, one way or another, I don’t think that’s on Banks at all. In the Derevyanchenko fight, I don’t think they had the wrong plan in that fight. I think Johnathon Banks can’t make Golovkin not show his age,’ said Rafael.

Golovkin is older, but as we saw in his last fight with Sergiy Derevyanchenko, his power is just as good it ever was. Each time Golovkin was on the attack, he had Derevyanchenko wilting. The facial damage that Golovkin’s heavy hands did on Derevyanchenko’s face was brutal.

If Golovkin hadn’t backed off when he had Derevyanchenko trapped against the ropes, he might have stopped him.

Instead of just throwing nonstop heavy punches to wear those guys down, Golovkin boxed and looked to load up with single shots. He didn’t follow Banks’ gameplan and didn’t show that he’d learned his lesson from his two fights with Canelo.

If Golovkin treats every round like it’s the final round, he has a chance of wearing Canelo out.

Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

Trainer might not change things

“So I don’t know if I would put much in the trainer in the GGG situation,” said Rafael. “Part of it is the way that he fights, the wear and tear, and the age. There are no miracle workers when you reach a certain age in this sport.

“When Muhammad Ali was at the end, you could have given him all the greatest trainers in the world, and it wasn’t going to turn back the clock against Larry Holmes or Trevor Berbick. You could have given him Angelo Dundee, Emanuel Steward, Teddy Atlas, Freddie Roach; pick all the greatest trainers in the history of the sport, and it wasn’t going to help him.

“You could have thrown in Eddie Futch also. At that age, he was done. The trainer can come up with a great game plan, and make sure the guy is in shape and in condition, and they can’t fight for him,” said Rafael about Golovkin.

With Golovkin, it’s not entirely the age that has caused him issues against Canelo, Sergiy Derevyancheko, and Danny Jacobs. In each of those fights, the one constant is Golovkin not throwing punches without letup.

When we saw Golovkin throw a flurry of shots against Steve Rolls, he stopped him. Likewise, Golovkin took apart Kell Brook when he began to attack him hard in the 5th. In the Canelo, Derevyancehnko, and Jacobs’ fights, Golovkin was too cautious and didn’t throw enough punches to make his job more manageable.

Banks recognized Golovkin’s problem immediately before he started training him, and said he wanted him to become busier with his punches. Golovkin hasn’t done that, and it cost him in his fights. What good is a trainer when you’re not willing to follow their instructions?

Body punching missing from GGG in Canelo rematch

“Yeah, I think if you want to look at the history of Golovkin’s trainers, I don’t know that Abel Sanchez distinguished himself in the second Canelo fight,” said Mannix. “He didn’t have a great game plan to counteract Canelo coming straight at Golovkin. They begged Canelo to come straight at him, and he did. He came right at him.”

“And the one thing that was said in the lead up to that fight was ‘where was the body punches?’ which is something GGG is extremely adept at doing, and he’s very good at it,” said Rafael. “We’ve seen him score knockouts with body punches, and they just disappeared.

“You can yell in the corner and yell in training camp all you want about using a certain weapon, but if a fighter can’t or won’t, what are you supposed to do? I think the trainer in boxing is very overrated in many ways. Not that they don’t provide and do a great service.

“Sometimes, they can make a huge difference and a massive difference. Look at what Freddie Roach did with Miguel Cotto when he got him late in his career. Look at what Emanuel Steward did when he took on Wladimir Klitschko.

“So there are some that you can pick out that made a dramatic difference but just fight to fight; it doesn’t always make a dramatic difference,” said Rafael.

Banks had talked ahead of Golovkin’s last two fights that he wanted him to go all out and throw lots of punches nonstop. In both of Golovkin’s previous two matches against Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Steve Rolls, he failed to battle the way Banks wanted him to.

Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

Golovkin feels comfortable with Banks

“I’ve always believed that the trainer the fighter picks has to be someone that they’re comfortable with,” said Rafael. “There was a lot of discussion going into the rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, which seems like it was a million years ago rather than a month and a half ago.

“That may be the last big fight we see for a long time. The point is when Tyson Fury went into that fight, a lot of people questioned ‘why would you switch trainers from Ben Davison to go to Sugar Hill when you had done very well with Ben as your trainer. You had drawn with Wilder in the first fight, even though a lot of people thought he deserved a win.

“Fury made a good point, ‘A Draw is not a win, so I had to change something.’ He changed trainers, and he said all the things that he was going to do, and he actually did them. So in that particular instance, the trainer wouldn’t have made that much of a difference in most people’s minds,” said Rafael.

One gets the sense that Golovkin was on cruise control all the years he was with trainer Abel Sanchez. GGG would be told something in the corner, but he would go out and fight the way he usually does. It worked well for Golovkin until he started mixing it up with better fighters like Danny Jacobs, Canelo, and Kell Brook.

GGG needs a good game plan to beat Canelo

“It doesn’t matter what I think, you think, fans think or what his promoters think,” said Rafael. “If the fighter believes it makes a difference, then they have to do what they have to do. The only person, the trainer, has to answer to is the boxer. The boxer has to feel comfortable with the guy in the corner.

“They could put a potted plant in the corner with the guy. If the fighter feels comfortable with the potted plant, then so be it. So back to what we were talking about with GGG and Canelo.

“If GGG is comfortable with Johnathan Banks as his trainer, whatever lessons he’s teaching him, preaching him or showing him, it makes no difference. As long as Golovkin thinks it’s the right thing and is comfortable with, that’s all that matters,” said Rafael.

“I’m just curious how it all plays out with Canelo,” said Mannix. “If Johnathon Banks comes up with a game plan, that’s more interesting than what he had in the last fight.”

“We know we’ve seen Canelo and GGG fight twice before. I think a lot of people think they know what’s going to happen in the third fight,” said Rafael.

The game plan that Rafael mentioned about Golovkin going after Canelo round one sounds like the perfect plan. If GGG attacks Canelo without let up, treating him like he’s hurt and not letting up, he could stop him.

At the very least, Golovkin will wear Canelo down if he attacks with an all-out blitz. Golovkin’s chances of winning a decision over Canelo are nonexistent. So it would be smart for GGG to attack Canelo like it was the 12th round.


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