By Jason Gonzalez
With Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin set to collide this Saturday at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, there are a few questions that still remain, and hopefully we will get the answers to them when it’s all said and done. The first question at hand is who will be the victor of this epic encounter?
Canelo-Golovkin is as even a match-up.The fighting styles of both fighters go together like peanut butter and jelly. They complement each other rather nicely, Golovkin is a come forward to seek and destroy type of fighter, while Canelo wants you to come to him—to pick you apart with hard effective counters. Who has the advantage? If you go by the odds, the bookmakers have Golovkin slightly ahead at about 1.5-1. Don’t be shocked if the odds are even come fight night.
To say that it’s a tough one to call is an understatement. In any contest this close to call, the fighter with the better chin can has the advantage.
But who has the better chin of the two?
With a record of 49-1-1, (34), Canelo has never touched the canvas. The 35-year-old Golovkin hasn’t been close to going in any of his 37 fights. Of those 37 bouts, only 4 have managed to go the distance. Prior to Daniel Jacobs ending Golovkin’s knockout streak of 23 in a row in March of this year, Golovkin had last gone 12 rounds nine years ago.
However, any objective observer will tell you that it is tough to gauge that intangible fairly. Both Canelo and Golovkin have demonstrated tough “beards” in the past, but outside of Jacobs [who was bigger than Golovkin] and Kell Brook [A blown up welterweight.], Golovkin’s opposition as far as skill level is concerned has been limited. Guys like Matthew Macklin, Dominic Wade, and Willie Monroe posed no threat to him. Yes David Lemieux was a heavy hitter, but as the late great Sean Price [rapper] once said on Operation Lockdown, “You lack the skills that it takes to make ends meet.” Lemieux is a C+ fighter at best. He stood no chance against Golovkin. There isn’t anyone else on Golovkin’s resume that packed sufficient pop at the middleweight division.
Canelo can take a punch and has underrated defense. He moves his waist laterally allowing him to slip and dodge punches from his opponent. Since losing a lopsided decision to Floyd Mayweather four years ago, the 27-year-old has solidified his position in the game as an elite fighter. With victories over the likes of Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara, and Miguel Cotto even his harshest critic would agree that Canelo established himself as a staple on the pound-for-pound list. But unfortunately like everything else in life, there is a catch. The caveat is that a majority of Canelo’s body of work took place at the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds. You don’t want to discredit the victories over Amir Khan and James Kirkland but they didn’t have the size or the ability to take punishment. Both Khan and Kirkland showed a great deal of courage in their knockout losses to Canelo. But in retrospect, hindsight is 20/20. Kirkland and Khan had no business being in the ring with him. Cotto was the only exception, that fight took place just one pound north of 154. The middleweight limit ranges from 155-160 pounds, but come on folks, even Stevie Wonder could tell you that Cotto is no middleweight.
Golovkin obviously punches hard for his respective weight class, which Canelo has yet to taste. In May of this year, Canelo moved up to super middleweight division when he faced Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Canelo fought and carried the weight well. But it wasn’t enough to assess how he would fare against bigger and better fighters, because Chavez, Jr. isn’t good. So in all fairness, Golovkin is the best big man that Canelo will fight.
Moving forward, considering that Canelo-Golovkin has been talked about for roughly two years now, it is by far the most anticipated matchup since Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao locked horns.
Why isn’t there a buzz surrounding this historic showdown cementing middleweight supremacy?
There are many variables that factor into this equation. For starters Mayweather-Conor McGregor took place three weeks ago in the same venue. Mayweather-McGregor was truly a spectacle for all intent purposes. It was a farce that should have never materialized. But based on their personalities, and status in their respective sport, they garnered the interest of the general public. And it made money and lots of it. Non boxing fans can tell you who Mayweather is. Non mixed martial arts fan can say the same about McGregor. Casual fans don’t really know Canelo and most certainly are not familiar with Golovkin. Neither guy has fully achieved mainstream crossover appeal. Even though Canelo may be on the precipice, by doing commercials with Sylvester Stallone advertising Tecate beer, he is still catering to a Latino demographic.
Call for what it is, both Canelo and Golovkin have very bland personalities. A little trash talking has never hurt anyone, or the business side of boxing.
After all, it’s a fight. Bend the rules a little bit and push the envelope.
Rumor has it that Canelo can speak English; however, he has yet to do an interview with an American publication in English. It’s always in Spanish. By not doing so, not only he is hurting his brand, but he isn’t resonating with the American public. How can Canelo fill the slot that Mayweather left vacate if he doesn’t identify with a non-Hispanic fan base?
Golovkin does speak English but not fluently. On several occasions while conducting interviews with the American press, Golovkin has replied to questions incorrectly. It wasn’t intentional, he just doesn’t comprehend the language well enough to sustain a conversation on that specific platform. But much props to him for trying. You can assume that he will get better. Ironically, for all of Golovkin’s endorsement deals with the Jordan brand, as well as Apple, and multiple appearances on ESPN’s Sports Center and First Take, Golovkin is virtually an unknown outside of boxing circles.
Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya has contributed to the problem too. He should shoulder most of the blame, if Canelo-Golovkin isn’t a pay-per-view success. De La Hoya took way too long to announce where the fight was going to be held. One month to be exact.
Not to mention, that he didn’t announce what the undercard was going to be until two weeks ago. De La Hoya prides himself on making these “stacked” cards, but this undercard is mediocre at best. The scrap with Randy Caballero and Diego De La Hoya is decent and worth watching. The Joseph Diaz fight is a mismatch, and as for Ryan Martin and Francisco Rojo, no one knows who they are. In fact, fight pundits were observed “googling” The names of Martin and Rojo.
Promoter De La Hoya is pushing a product that will be going up against many internet sites that will be streaming Saturday’s bout for free, Amazon Fire TV Stick subscribers will have access to watch the fight at no charge, and millions of others will utilize some form of a social media outlet, like a Facebook live or a live Instagram video so that their friends and followers can watch the fight and not have to pay. It’s a recipe for disaster, pay-per-view sales will flop substantially.
And last but not least, the final question on everyone’s mind is will the fight live up to its billing? History has a way of repeating itself. 34-years-ago, a man by the name of Marvelous Marvin Hagler couldn’t get the right “dance partner” to square up with him, while his counter parts such as Tommy Hearns and “Sugar” Ray Leonard starred in high profile fights, thus earning them lucrative paydays. Hagler beat everyone they put in front of him. Hagler was feared, up until he was able to lure the right opponent to tango with. Hagler got his big break on November 10, 1983. Hagler faced Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran.
This narrative is extremely similar to Golovkin’s. Golovkin is finally getting his chance now in his first “big” fight, against Canelo. Just like when Duran told Hagler, “I don’t fear you.” Canelo told Golovkin, the same thing. But as oppose to Duran, who wasn’t expected to loss against Hagler, a lot are picking Canelo to win.
On paper, Canelo-Golovkin seems like a slam dunk. But there is always a remote chance that the fighters deviate from who they are for the sake of strategy. What if Golovkin becomes the counter puncher and Canelo fails to press the action. What if Canelo chooses to play it safe by just boxing on the outside, in which Golovkin chases him all night? If either scenario transpires it would be awful for the sport of boxing. By simply going through the motions in a fight that many expect to deliver, will not be enough to impress the public nor the media. We’ve felt disenchanted before. Do you remember how Mayweather-Pacquiao played out?
It may not be Hagler-Hearns nor Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, but if Canelo and Golovkin remain true to form, you can expect a shoot out. “Shoot outs" are similar to wild west. Broad daylight face-to-face without a vest.
In other words, a really good fight.
I am picking Canelo to win a close hard fought unanimous decision, by scores of 115-113 (7 rounds to 5.)
The contest will be competitive and exciting enough for the public to demand a rematch.