JUST a few short weeks after the Mayweather-McGregor circus came to Las Vegas and left with a piece of boxing’s soul, the Entertainment Capital of the World plays host to what is in fact the biggest fight in the sport.
Whether Gennady Golovkin v Saul Alvarez breaks any box office or gate receipt records (it’s doubtful) matters little to boxing fans, but what does matter is that this is a rare case of the best fighting the best in one of the most prestigious weight divisions.
In time people will learn to appreciate Floyd Mayweather for his generation-best boxing skills, if not his dubious 50th career win, but what he won’t be forgiven for is his trend-setting template of delaying the biggest fights out there in order to maximise revenue.
Golovkin v Alvarez should have happened two years ago, but promotors have worked out that the longer you make fans wait, the more desperate they become to see it. Boxing enthusiasts have been demanding this one for at least three years, but this inevitable meeting has only just come to fruition with Golovkin now in dangerous territory as a 35-year-old.
Normally, I would try not to factor age into fights too much as good conditioning can prolong a fighter’s world-class ability beyond all logic – see miracle man Bernard Hopkins – but it seems to me as though GGG has lost a slight edge over his past few fights.
“That’s not to say he has lost any power in those dynamite fists, but ‘Canelo’ – who has never tasted the canvas – has done enough to suggest he’s tough enough to withstand GGG’s force”
That’s not to say he has lost any power in those dynamite fists, but ‘Canelo’ – who has never tasted the canvas – has done enough to suggest he’s tough enough to withstand GGG’s force. Most expect this one to go the distance, and if that’s the case the Mexican – already a darling of Las Vegas while his opponent makes his Sin City debut – surely has an advantage.
It’s difficult not to like grafter Golovkin – the son of a coal miner from Karaganda, Kazakhstan – as in many ways boxing has failed him. Throughout his pro career fighters have been too quick to avoid his devastating power while promotors all too often squandered chances to get him the big pay days his record should have earned.
However, he’s here now in the biggest – if not most lucrative – fight of the year and bookmakers have him down as the slight favourite, but as the old saying in boxing goes; the boxer beats the puncher, and that’s why my money is on the younger, hungrier Alvarez.
It’s difficult to know what to make of some of Golovkin’s pre-fight quotes, with his widely shared column in the Player’s Tribute suggesting he’s not in love with the sport anymore as family is his priority (fair enough). Equally uninspiring was his soft admission that “everyone has a chance against me. That’s the nature of boxing. One punch can change everything.”
Not exactly fighting talk from boxing’s longest reigning champion, who has come across as a man who is ready to give up his WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight belts and walk away from the sport, safe in the knowledge that he’s finally got his big pay day and Las Vegas box ticked.
“It’s hard to put faith in a man who has ever so slightly regressed in his mid 30s and openly accepts the possibility of a first loss in the pro ranks.”
I sincerely hope that’s not the case, but it’s hard to put faith in a man who has ever so slightly regressed in his mid 30s and openly accepts the possibility of a first loss in the pro ranks.
Having lost his zero to Mayweather in 2013, Canelo has no pressure to remain unbeaten and, as the naturally smaller man, he is the underdog. But the versatile 27-year-old needs no sympathisers – he can be a ruthless workhorse or deceptively patient, a very underrated attribute.
His knockout record reads 67% compared to GGG’s whopping 89%, but don’t let that fool you – he has ferocious power in his own right, with his uppercut on the counter a sight to behold.
Being the smaller fighter can work to a boxer’s advantage, Canelo learned that the hard way when Mayweather handed him a lesson when the Mexican was just 23. To his credit, he has improved year-on-year ever since.
Expect Canelo to establish himself in the early exchanges of the jab and he’ll try and force Golovkin to fight at close range in a bid to minimise the Kazak’s power. GGG will no doubt test Canelo’s resistance and heart throughout, but if the fight is 50-50 going into the second-half, the younger man can take over.
On the night of Mayweather v Conor McGregor, some hardcore followers refused to engage with the nonsense and opted to watch Miguel Cotto beat Yoshihiro Kamegai for the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight title instead. This weekend they will be rewarded for their loyalty.
“This is more important for boxing,” said Golovkin of his meeting with Alvarez, when asked for his thoughts on Mayweather-McGregor recently. Finally, GGG has his ‘big drama show’ and, whatever happens, boxing fans can’t really lose.
Jamie Casey's Tips
Top tip: Canelo to win on points 3.00 Unibet
Safe bet: Fight to go the distance 1.73 Unibet
Value bet: Alvarez to be knocked down and win 8.00 Unibet
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