Undefeated Kazakh knockout artist Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin faces boxing’s biggest pay per view star, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in the most anticipated middleweight war since the 1980s.
On Saturday September 16 in Las Vegas (approx. 3am Sunday BST) Golovkin will risk his WBA, WBC and IBF belts and Canelo Alvarez his Ring Magazine and Lineal middleweight titles in a fight for supremacy of the 160lb division.
Resisting pressure to make the Golovkin fight for years has paid off and now seems perfect timing for Oscar de la Hoya to unleash his 27 year old star against the 35-year-old Kazakh. The eight year age gap has never been more telling, with boxing experts recently praising the young Mexican for improving massively in every one of his recent performances, while simultaneously noting the cracks appearing to show in Golovkin’s energy and effectiveness.
Further to youth’s effect in the ring, is the effect out of it. Canelo’s upward momentum and hype has led to some excess favour from judges, notably against Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara. Ultimately, boxing is a business and the judges may be swayed by the potential longevity of the younger champion. Similarly, fighting in Las Vegas will give the Mexican the home advantage over the Kazakh. Like it or not, both fighters and judges are affected by the hostility or encouragement of the crowd.
At ringside, Roy Jones Jr claimed he’d never seen Alvarez look better and that he is now ready to face GGG
It is said that you are only as good as your last fight, and in Alvarez’s 12 round annihilation of former middleweight world champion Julio Chavez Jr. in May, Canelo looked in excellent form, refusing to even sit down between rounds. His flashy performance earned him a unanimous victory, winning all 12 rounds on all three judges’ scorecards, outlanding the bigger man three to one. At ringside, Roy Jones Jr claimed he’d never seen Alvarez (49-1-1) look better and that he is now ready to face GGG.
It is worth noting that some critics have argued that Canelo’s failure to knockout a completely outclassed Chavez Jr suggests that he lacks power above his usual weight of 154lbs. While GGG has fought his whole 37-fights-37-wins professional career at 160lb, Canelo will have to gain almost half a stone just to match Golovkin’s weight.
Indeed bookies are backing Gennady Golovkin (37-0-0) to interrupt the rise of the young Mexican’s career in their September clash. The Guinness world record holder boasts the highest knockout percentage in middleweight history, currently at 89.9%. Even more important than his power is the way he applies it. Golovkin is economical with his punches, with CompuBox finding he lands an average of 27.5 punches/round compared to an all-division average of 16.8.
With what is often praised as the best jab in boxing currently, Golovkin exercises great control over his opponents
Nobody in boxing cuts off the ring like Gennady Golovkin. His amateur pedigree of 345 wins to eight losses means his ring IQ is exceptional. Using lateral movement, GGG stalks his opponents to the ropes or corners, where many of his knockouts take place. For a brutal example see GGG’s knockout of Matthew Macklin on YouTube. Furthermore, with what is often praised as the best jab in boxing currently, Golovkin exercises great control over his opponents. Triple G is top of the rankings when it comes to jabs landed per round, averaging 12, which is over double the average across the professional ranks.
In March however, we saw a glimpse of humanity through a chink in Golovkin’s armour, in his uncomfortably close points victory over 32-2 American Danny Jacobs, ending GGG’s chain of 23 consecutive knockouts. As Golovkin struggled to maintain the energy of the bigger man, the latter claimed later that GGG is not all he’s made up to be. More potential cracks appeared in GGG’s recent clash with Sheffield-born welterweight Kell Brook, where his notoriously front foot heavy stance left him susceptible to taking big flashy uppercuts to the chin – which are somewhat of a speciality of Canelo.
Styles make fights, and we can expect to see a true search and destroy battle between counterpuncher Saul Alvarez and hunter Gennady Golovkin
Golovkin’s aggressive pressure fighting is the polar opposite of the only person to defeat Canelo professionally: Floyd Mayweather. Facing Mayweather highlighted that Canelo struggles to land effectively against fast footed fighters who flit in and out of range, which Golovkin is certainly not. Meanwhile, Canelo relishes proactive, iron chinned types, like Golovkin, as we saw when he destroyed Arturo Angulo – knocked out with an uppercut. For what it’s worth, Mayweather insists that ‘flat footed’ GGG makes a lot of mistakes and will absolutely not defeat the Mexican. In fact, the recently re-retired Floyd also predicts Canelo will make history when he stops Golovkin, who has supposedly never been knocked down or out as a professional or amateur.
Styles make fights, and we can expect to see a true search and destroy battle between counterpuncher Saul Alvarez and hunter Gennady Golovkin.
Canelo knows that if he stands and trades with Golovkin it will spell out an early night home. Instead he will have to outbox the Kazakh, using his superior hand speed, upper body movement and energy. Meanwhile, GGG will try to maintain his distance, as Canelo’s optimal range is half a step closer than Golovkin’s. Abel Sanchez, GGG’s trainer, makes no secret that his front footed fight blueprint will not change for the superfight.
Expect some wars on the ropes, as GGG is most effective when his opponents are trapped against the ring and Canelo most dangerous when he’s there
It is likely GGG will dominate the first few rounds with his superior push-away style jab, succeeding in keeping Canelo at the range that suits him best. Alvarez should come back and will likely win some of the mid rounds as he unloads some big combinations against Golovkin, who tends to absorb shots on his guard rather than retreat. During the mid to late rounds we could expect some wars on the ropes, as GGG is most effective when his opponents are trapped against the ring and Canelo most dangerous when he’s there.
Ultimately however, Golovkin’s range control, championship experience and iron chin may be the deciding factors that mean Saul Alvarez will be the 18th person to be knocked out by Triple G in a world title fight. Though this will be a very contestable bout, our prediction is a late stoppage win for GGG.
The day before the bout, the chances are WBO Middleweight World Champion Billy Joe Saunders, from Hatfield, UK, will successfully defend his belt against Willie Monroe Jr, thus making him the only thing that stands between the victor of Canelo v GGG and the title of undisputed middleweight champion of the world. With the unification fight hopefully being made by January 2018, boxing fans know that whoever the winner of Canelo-GGG, one thing is sure – boxing is back.