In slightly less than three months the most anticipated fight of 2018 will be taking place. Yes, with Joshua vs. Wilder not happening this year (and it won’t) Canelo vs. Golovkin II becomes the biggest fight of the year. And unless it comes out that Canelo was using performance enhancing drugs the first time they met, I can’t see my thoughts changing.
Sometimes fights are made that the public goes crazy about and cannot wait to see. And sometimes when handicapping them it comes down to evaluating more than just who is the better fighter. Anyone who has followed professional boxing for a long time and paid close attention must have deduced that if you follow the money you seldom go wrong. Nothing is foolproof, but if you picked the winner based on what fighter served boxing best for making bigger bouts down the road, your winning percentage would be well above .500. I believe there’s a fight approaching this September with a perfect storm formulating around it that has me cornered into being more cynic than analyst.
I had this same feeling regarding Mayweather-Pacquiao. I wish I could shake it regarding this super fight, but I can’t. When Mayweather and Pacquiao finally fought, I believed there was no way Mayweather could lose, and much of that was based on the fight taking place in 2015 instead of 2010. The September 15th rematch between middleweight champ Gennady “GGG” Golovkin 37-0-1 (33) and former junior middleweight champ Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 49-1-2 (34) is occurring at a time where boxing needs Canelo much more for the future than it does Golovkin.
The interest in Canelo/GGG II has been at a fever pitch from the moment the decision was announced declaring the first meeting last September a draw. The fact that most observers who saw the fight live and on PPV felt Golovkin deserved to win set the wheels in motion for them to meet again. The rematch was signed and then cancelled after Canelo tested positive in February for the banned substance Clenbuterol. Canelo was suspended until August and in the interim, after some public haggling regarding the purse split, both sides came to agreement and now there should be no holding up Act Two of Canelo vs. GGG.
There’s a good chance the second fight will be as action-packed as the first. However, the intrigue as to who will win isn’t there for me. I think the result is a foregone conclusion.
The way I see it, there’s no way Canelo is going to lose unless Gennady stops him and I don’t think that is remotely possible. On the day of their first meeting I predicted GGG would win, but he had to do it via stoppage. And if he didn’t, Canelo, due to him being the bigger draw and better for business, was more likely to benefit if it went to the scorecards, and that’s what unfolded. I also said if GGG didn’t beat Canelo then (9/16/2017), he’d never hold a win over him officially – a thought that hasn’t softened a bit.
Since the retirement of Floyd Mayweather, Canelo is the sport’s biggest star. What made Mayweather must-see was him being undefeated and Floyd played it beautifully. No, Alvarez isn’t undefeated, but the lone setback on his resume is what in boxing is considered a good loss. In other words Canelo lost to Mayweather when Floyd was considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in boxing. Couple that with Canelo still being young and gaining experience, along with Mayweather holding the advantage stylistically, and the defeat wasn’t a career killer for the Mexican star. And if you need more proof that Canelo was being looked after, consider that CJ Ross scored the fight a draw…..Why? Because down the road it could be said, for no other reason than to keep Canelo marketable, that one judge didn’t think Mayweather beat him (which is a joke because Mayweather won 36 minutes of a 36-minute bout; the only time during the fight Mayweather wasn’t out-boxing Canelo was during the one-minute rest between rounds).
When in doubt when handicapping a big fight, it’s usually best to follow the money. Sure, there was De La Hoya-Trinidad and Pacquiao-Bradley I, but that’s two big fights in 19 years where the star fighter didn’t benefit from the judges’ cards. Those instances are few and far between. Canelo will be 28 when he enters the ring for the rematch and Golovkin will be roughly six months away from turning 37. Canelo will be around much longer than GGG and the big fights for him down the road are just waiting for his signature.
Canelo’s days as a superstar would die overnight if he lost to Golovkin this September because aside from his base of fans, most boxing fans would be over him if the record indicated he’d been beaten by two fighters (Mayweather and Golovkin) along with a few close calls in other bouts that went the distance and had some folks scratching their head when the scores were announced. From a business standpoint, boxing needs star fighters and I can’t envision the establishment taking out one of its biggest stars by the pens of the three judges they appoint. Sure, if GGG stops Canelo that’s out of their control. But Canelo’s brain-trust, who set up the fight, is more than certain that Canelo won’t be stopped by Gennady and their willingness to take the risk convinces me that it’s a safe bet Canelo wins this fight.
So if the rematch goes the distance — and for argument sake, let’s say GGG has the slightly the better of it — is it realistic to believe he’ll get the decision this time? I say based on the decision given in their first meeting we already have the answer.
In addition, I thought Golovkin was tiring and showing signs of age during the last three rounds of the first encounter due to the pace and brutality of the exchanges. I believe that’ll show up again in the rematch and therefore I have reservations about GGG being even the same fighter this time as he was then. Stylistically, there’s no adjustment Golovkin can make other than digging to the body more. During their last fight Canelo was open to the body but Gennady seemed to ignore it, and I think the reason for that was that he didn’t relish leaving himself open to the face in the process. No, I don’t think Canelo was really hurting him, but I had the sense getting rammed with big shots bothered Golovkin more than any other fight I’ve ever seen of his – and there’s no reason to think that won’t be the case again.
On the other hand, Canelo can be better this time because he’s quicker handed and more versatile tactically. I look for him to jab more and look to beat GGG to the draw and stifle him from getting properly set to get off. He’ll look to time his offensive runs more and either get off first or a distant second with the hope of avoiding fewer one-for-one exchanges which, as he’s aware, would favor GGG. Hence, Canelo will be in the fight more this time than he was 12 months ago…..translating if the fight is legitimately closer, how does he not bank more rounds this time?
Based on the strategic options for both, Canelo has more room to be better and change things up to level the fight. And then there’s the business side of the equation and I’ve been around too long to fathom that if it’s closer this time GGG will get the decision. I just don’t see it. A Canelo win sets the rubber match up perfectly because in the eyes of boxing fans and PPV buyers they’ll view them as being 1-1. Moreover, if Golovkin wins he’ll not only be seen as being 2-0 against Canelo, but he’ll hold all the negotiation leverage because under that scenario Canelo/GBP will need him and Golovkin won’t need them. For a third fight, GGG could offer Canelo crumbs and he’d have no choice but to take it with the hope being that he could redeem himself.
For the reasons stated above, as much as I’d like to be wrong (and there’s no fun pouring cold water on something so widely anticipated), I don’t think that will be the case. It’s a monumental reach for me to think GGG can win a decision unless he beats Canelo beyond recognition – which I don’t believe he can. Therefore Canelo-GGG goes the distance and Alvarez, being more competitive this time, gets the decision and that sets up the rubber match for Cinco De Mayo weekend 2019.
No, I’m not excited about the Canelo-Golovkin rematch. But fans don’t look at it the same way as I do and they’re intrigued by the match-up, believing that either fighter can come out on top, and that’s great for them and for the sport of boxing. I just don’t share the same sentiment
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel