After gouging boxing fans by fighting Miguel Cotto, who debuted as a junior welterweight, Amir Khan, who debuted as lightweight, Liam Smith, an undefeated junior-middleweight with the WBO title, but not worthy of watching on PPV, and then a weight-drained Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., it looks as though Canelo Alvarez has run out of opponents. Finally, after keeping the boxing public salivating for a legitimate fight in a manner that would make Floyd Mayweather smile, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 49-1-1 (34) has apparently agreed to meet multiple middleweight title holder Gennady Golovkin 37-0 (33) this coming September. This isn’t the first time they were near an agreement to meet, so we’ll see if this time it happens. Off the top of my head I do believe this time it’s a go!
Before getting into Canelo-Golovkin, let’s be clear about the gouging we were submitted to this past weekend.
What we saw Saturday night was an elite world-class fighter in Canelo Alvarez assuming the role of a house cat and doing whatever he wanted to do with a weight-drained church-mouse and part-time contender in Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. As it said in this space before the fight, if Chavez was weakened by the dramatic weight loss, he would be at Canelo’s mercy due to the simple fact that inside the ring Alvarez does everything better. Minus the size and presumed strength overload in Chavez’s favor, he was dead in the water. Looking back, it doesn’t take a sophisticated observer to see that Chavez had nothing physically and that his one and only victory was making weight on the first try so that he didn’t get docked a million dollars.
My thoughts were that if Chavez was compromised by losing the required weight to make 164.5, he’d in no way provide Canelo with any resistance and in the process Canelo would look like the most complete boxer you’d ever seen landing 2-3 punch combinations at will. And that’s exactly what we saw for 12 rounds. Chavez was an empty package with no punch and no reflexes and — worst of all — his will to fight through it was broken within the first or at best second round of the fight. With that Canelo looked great making Julio miss and then making him pay. Saul looked great as the attacker and also fighting with his back to the ropes. His counter-punching was beautiful on the few occasions when Chavez attempted to get off.
Boxing fans were hoodwinked into seeing Canelo fight maybe his most complete fight in the last few years. Nothing takes the bullets out of a fighter’s guns like forcing him to fight at a weight in which he is not at full strength; it’s the oldest trick in boxing and has been used to a “T” by many of boxing’s recent stars.
Yes, Canelo looked terrific against Chavez, but that is no indicator, nor will it have any bearing, on how he performs against Golovkin — just as Gennady not looking so good in his last fight against Daniel Jacobs means nothing, absolutely nothing, regarding him fighting Canelo. The nice thing is now we can look forward to the reality of Canelo vs. Golovkin.
For almost two years fans have wanted to see them meet, but Golden Boy Promotions, which handles Canelo, dragged their feet. Now it seems as if they’re serious and the fight will be realized. I know we’ve heard this before, but this time it’s different because the terrain around Canelo is a little more dangerous. For the past couple years he’s enticed smaller fighters to move up to face him and then in his last fight enticed a bigger fighter to throw away his only edge and move down to face him. However, he now has the Charlo brothers, Jermell at junior middleweight and Jermall at middleweight, nipping at his heels. Both brothers are even money to beat Canelo and it wouldn’t be for nearly the money he would pocket fighting Golovkin. Then there’s Daniel Jacobs, who after his showing against Golovkin surely wouldn’t be viewed as automatic for Canelo to beat, and for such little money. Yes, it’s the risk vs. reward equation.
The Chavez bout leaves a terrible taste in the mouth of many boxing fans. Add to that, it now seems the best are fighting the best in boxing the way it used to be when boxing thrived. With fights on the horizon such as Kell Brook vs. Errol Spence, two of the best welterweights in boxing, and the rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev that sees the top two light heavyweights meeting for the second time in less than a year, Canelo eventually had to fight his most perceived threat. With Golovkin looking beatable versus Jacobs and fewer plausible options with low risk, it made sense for Canelo to go forward with Golovkin next.
My initial thoughts on Canelo-Golovkin are that GGG has the style, punch and chin to be Canelo’s stumbling block. There’s no way Canelo can fight Golovkin the way that Jacobs did – giving him lateral movement and punching without being set. Nor is Canelo as physically big or as strong as Jacobs. He cannot muscle Golovkin the way he did Miguel Cotto, Amir Kahn or a physically depleted Chavez Jr. In order for both fighters to punch with maximum power, both Gennady and Saul need to have their feet set. I doubt Golovkin is going to allow Canelo to flurry and punch at his leisure the way he’s been able to against his recent opponents. And that translates into them fighting and trading, and that favors Golovkin. Canelo hit a depleted Chavez Jr. at will with his best shots and never had him in trouble or close to going down. I don’t think the same can be said if it had been Golovkin unloading on Chavez this past Saturday night.
From a style and physicality perspective, I make Golovkin the favorite. But there are more things to consider when picking the winner than simply who is the better fighter. Because both guys take a great punch, there’s a better than 50 percent chance the fight will go the distance, and that’s where I’m uncomfortable.
Gennady Golovkin is an outstanding fighter, but he’s 35 years old and has far less juice at the gate. Canelo will be 27 years old when they meet. He’s a legitimate star with a huge following. Like Floyd Mayweather, he can fight anyone and there will be a lot of money changing hands. If Canelo were to beat Golovkin, he’d rival Mayweather as a star simply because Floyd cannot legitimately claim that he ever beat a fighter at any weight as good as Golovkin.
Boxing is a business before anything else. A Canelo win over Golovkin is much better for business than the reverse. Call me a cynic but I can’t discount or overlook that when trying to pick the winner.
I sense Golovkin has passed his peak slightly and the fight will go the distance. I can see a scenario where perhaps GGG gets the better of it in the ring but not on the cards of the judges who have final say. And if anyone doubts Canelo gets love from boxing judges, I can’t forget how one judge scored his fight with Mayweather a draw, a fight in which he didn’t win a single round. If they did that against Mayweather, who was the biggest star in boxing, is it a reach to think they couldn’t get one more judge to look at it that way against a fighter with far less cache at the box office?
Stylistically Golovkin should beat Canelo but that doesn’t mean he will win the fight. With four full months to go before they touch gloves, there’s plenty of time to think about and discuss all the intangibles.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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