By John J. Raspanti
This is what boxing has always been about. Two champions challenging each other. In this case, between them, the opponents have climbed into the squared circle 86 times, scoring 85 wins and knocking out 67 challengers.
Gennady Golovkin could be called “The Indestructible Man.” He’s never lost a professional fight, been knocked down, or tasted his own blood. He hits like a mule and fights like a calculating assassin.
Golovkin has been matched brilliantly during his career. He captured the WBA middleweight championship in 2010 by defeating Nilson Julio Tapia. He’s also beaten Kasiim Ouma, Lujon Simon, and Makoto Fuchigami.
Four years later, he brutalized Gabriel Rosada, knocked the stuffing out of Nobuhiro Ishida, and stopped Matthew Mackling with a wicked body shot. Pretty good fighters for sure, but not in the top five in the world.
After beating Curtis Stevens, Golovkin faced his toughest test to date, former champion Daniel Geale. It took Golovkin eight minutes to put him away.
The Golovkin train rolled through Marco Antonio Rubio, Martin Murray, Willie Monroe Jr., David Lemieux, and Domnic Wade. Golokin appeared bored at times, dicing up his victims like a chef in a sushi restaurant.
Last year he traveled to England to face then-welterweight champion, Kell Brook. He took some shots, appeared sluggish, but still managed to stop Brook in five rounds.
Next up was WBA champion Daniel Jacobs. The fight was a tight one. Golovkin floored Jacobs but was outboxed at times and ate punches. Golovkin won the fight by unanimous decision though many thought Jacobs deserved the nod.
His last two fights raised some questions. Was he overrated? Did he struggle because Brook and Jacobs were more talented fighters? Is the 35-year-old Golovkin getting old?
I’ve never believed that Golovkin was the second coming of Superman. He’s a very good fighter. He’s fun to watch as he calculates and destroys. It’s unfortunate that his fight with Andre Ward never happened. Then we would have found how good Golovkin really is.
Every fighter has flaws. I think his struggles did have to do with the boxing ability of Brook and Jacobs.
Canelo Alvarez is the “cinnamon” golden boy. His lone loss was to the best fighter of his generation, Floyd “Money” Mayweather. He’s been boxing since he was 15. He’s improved quite a bit since losing to Mayweather. He’s been a titleholder since defeating Matthew Hatton in 2011. Alvarez, 27, was last seen in the ring toying with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. His victories over then-undefeated Austin Trout, and talented Erisnady Lara, were impressive.
His promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, likely chewed off all his fingernails during the Lara match. Still, Alvarez got the win, though some felt he was given an early Christmas present. 2015 was a good year for Alvarez. In May, he met the hard-punching James Kirkland in Texas. No one expected a dance. They expected a fight, and got it.
Kirkland came out swinging--pushing the favored Alvarez into the ropes. He landed a couple of combinations. A minute later, Alvarez staggered the onrushing Kirkland with a stinging right hand. A right hook sent Kirkland toppling to the canvas. Kirkland beat the count and fought back.
As Kirkland waited, Alvarez unleashed a full arsenal of shots. Many of them landed. By the end of the round, Kirkland was woozy, like a patron at a bar who needed some air.
Kirkland was back in Alvarez’s grill in Round three, but his punches weren’t bothering the champion. As Kirkland marched towards him, a short Alvarez uppercut sent him to his knees. Kirkland beat the count again, but the end was near. Kirkland seemed to sense it.
As he languished on the ropes, Alvarez feinted a right to the gut but aimed his punch at Kirkland’s chin. The blow landed perfectly--spinning Kirkland like a top and depositing him on his back. The referee took one look at the prone Kirkland and waved off the contest.
Alvarez used the same move to knock out former welterweight champion Amir Khan a year later. Khan toppled to the floor like a corpse.
Spectators were relieved when Khan sat up from the canvas a few minutes later.I doubt this move will work against Golovkin unless he loses focus.
So Alvarez has been improving while Golovkin has been declining? Not exactly. I do believe their abilities are closer now, but Golovkin still has the edge. If he uses his jab to set-up Alvarez, he might stop him. If he waits too long, as he did against Brook and Jacobs, he’ll be in for a dog-fight. Alvarez is a very good counter-puncher. He hits hard, but not like Golovkin. Success to the body could lead to victory. His questionable stamina will be tested.
I’m expecting a very good tactical fight, with moments of combustion. Alvarez looks edgy and hungry. Golovkin calm, cool and collective. The first five rounds will reveal a lot on who the ultimate winner will be.