By Navi Mondair, first uploaded on Boxing News 24.
The showdown between middleweight superstars Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is roughly a week away; a fight that has been brewing for several years now and will finally determine once and for all the top dog in the middleweight division.
Golovkin is an exciting pressure fighter renowned for his granite chin, excruciating power and solid grasp of pugilistic fundamentals, corroborated by an exceptional amateur record and a 2004 Olympic silver medal. As a professional, the Karaganda native is currently undefeated, however his legendary knockout streak came to a surprising end in his last outing against New York’s Danny Jacobs where the uncharacteristically risk-averse Triple-G failed to capitalize on a knockdown in the fourth round; having nearly been pushed all the way by a resolute challenger who was arguably unfortunate to fall victim to a somewhat controversial unanimous decision verdict in favor of the unified champion from Kazakhstan.
The otherwise invariably clinical nature of his knockout triumphs coupled with his predatory, relentless in-ring approach has prompted comparisons with the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez (senior) and Mike Tyson. Funnily enough, Tyson’s record was portentously identical to Golovkin’s (37–0 with 33 knockouts) before his sensational upset loss to Buster Douglas in Tokyo.
However, it is unlikely that Golovkin is a superstitious man and by all accounts he is preparing meticulously for the younger Canelo, a proficient counter-puncher who opts more often than not to wear his opponents down with spiteful combination punching before closing the show in the later rounds.
Alvarez is considered to be something of a prodigy, if not promotional gold dust — a fighter, who having turned professional at a mere fifteen years’ old, now enjoys immense popularity in his native Mexico (and beyond) and according to the numbers has become boxing’s top pay-per-view attraction following the departure of Floyd Mayweather, the man responsible for the solitary defeat on the Mexican’s record after comprehensively outclassing him over twelve rounds in September 2013.
However, Canelo remains a divisive figure and has garnered criticism in some quarters after vacating the WBC middleweight title (the WBA & IBF are held by Golovkin) and having been the beneficiary of some generous Nevada judging in his majority-decision loss to Mayweather, and his decision victories over Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara and according to some commentators, Miguel Cotto.
Although this is the type of fight where I don’t think either fighter will ostensibly be dominant throughout the early proceedings, I am expecting Alvarez to make a fast start. He will be boxing beautifully on the outside and looking to check Golovkin’s rampaging advances with crisp counters. Golovkin’s notoriously heavy hands will penetrate Canelo’s defence on a few occasions but it seems reasonable to speculate that most people’s scorecards will roughly have it even around the midway period.
Golovkin is unquestionably an aggressive fighter but he abjures the outright swarming, ‘blood and thunder’ approach of Chavez senior. Instead, his concussive power is complimented by a disciplined, European approach through educated pressure — boxing methodically behind the jab in order to further soften up his opponent and work his way inside. Golovkin possesses almost impeccable footwork and is therefore generally inclined towards maneuvering his opponents into vulnerable positions where he can unleash his devastating body punches.
Golovkin’s sheer size and strength means he can’t easily be out-muscled or out-hustled and I suspect that this factor will increasingly come into play as the fight progresses and Canelo inexorably tires. The physical difference in stature was apparent in the face-offs. Furthermore, contrary to widespread belief, I actually think Golovkin is the superior boxer and the (marginally) more cerebral fighter, even though Canelo is undoubtedly a formidable and skilled operator as well.
My final prediction is that Canelo eventually becomes overwhelmed as Golovkin begins to ferociously maul him before stopping him in the late rounds. Ultimately, I think it will be a memorable, explosive encounter complete with thrilling exchanges and a spectacular conclusion. I’m sure I speak for many people when I say that I can’t wait for it. Overall, though, I think Canelo, despite his obvious promise, is punching above his weight and will crumble under the pressure — literally and figuratively.