Everyone loves a spirited debate, and I suppose I am no different. But although I tend to agree with my TSS colleague Frank Lotierzo’s well-thought-out analyses of most upcoming fights, his reasoning for “Why I Believe Canelo Triumphing over GGG is a Foregone Conclusion,” posted on this site on Monday, is at least somewhat flawed in my opinion. I have a few counter-points to the points he made in that piece, and I believe they are at least as valid as those that led to his conclusion that Canelo is a semi-lock to emerge victorious on Sept. 15 at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena in what almost certainly will be the biggest, most important fight of 2018.
My pick is Gennady Golovkin, probably inside the distance, which would take the outcome out of the judges’ hands in any case. But, barring the unlikely event of another draw, either Frank or I will be correct on fight night. It’ll be up to the participants in this middleweight megafight to prove or disprove our markedly different hypotheses, and I’m guessing GGG will make me look like the smart guy for once.
Although Frank’s no-doubt-about-it pick of Canelo is based in part on purely boxing considerations – Canelo (49-1-2, 34 KOs) is younger (he’ll be 28 when he enters the ring to GGG’s 36-plus) and, in Frank’s estimation, the hugely popular Mexican is also “quicker handed and more versatile tactically” – he cites familiar conspiracy-theory stuff as playing a larger role in his vision of what is to be. First and foremost, he stresses that financial considerations in such cases frequently influence what the judges see or think they see, with the younger, more bankable opponent, the one more likely to be involved in big fights moving forward, apt to receive favorable treatment on the scorecards. Hard to argue with that, particularly when you take into account judge Adalaide Byrd’s ludicrous 118-110 score in favor of Canelo in the split draw that resolved nothing last Sept. 16, a reasonably close fight that most objective observers believed should have ended in a GGG victory.
Much has changed, however, in the year that will have passed between that fight and the one that will take place three months hence. At the top of the list of differences is Canelo’s positive test for the banned substance Clenbuterol, which had the effect of scrapping the previously announced date of May 5 and Alvarez being slapped with a six-month suspension. Canelo’s promoter, Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, argued that the positive test result came from his fighter having ingested tainted beef while training in his home country, a problem that De La Hoya said has affected “thousands” of Mexican athletes in the past.
If the beef in Mexico is so notoriously suspect, and I am playing devil’s advocate here, why did Canelo choose to train there instead of the United States, or at least have a better grade of meat shipped in from, say, Kansas City? Surely Team Canelo had the resources to do one or the other, thus eliminating the possibility of an image-damaging red flag being raised.
Is Canelo a deliberate and habitual juicer or an innocent consumer of a couple of bad steaks? That is a matter yet to be fully decided in the court of public opinion, but if this were baseball instead of boxing le’affaire Clenbuterol would already have consigned the red-haired heartthrob to the ongoing purgatory to which Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro have been relegated. Maybe I’m seeing things, but the presumably clean Canelo, now in the good graces of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, looks a little less buff than he did when he first squared off against GGG. Will those quick hands be a little less so this time, and might they pack a little less pop? Time will tell, although it must be noted that Clebuterol tends to increase a fighter’s stamina more than his speed and power.
Now, for my conspiracy theory in reverse. If boxing history tells us anything, it’s that the Mexico City-based WBC, during the long reign of its late former president, Jose Sulaiman, routinely issued rulings favorable to fighters from that country, often head-scratchingly so. You’d think that might be a plus for Canelo, arguably the most popular Mexican boxer since the heyday of Julio Cesar Chavez, but the fighter and the WBC have famously been on the outs since Canelo was forced to vacate his WBC 160-pound title when he proceeded with a May 7, 2016, bout with Amir Khan. The WBC then arbitrarily handed its green belt to Golovkin, which infuriated Canelo to the extent that he refused to accept a specially crafted belt the WBC was to present to the winner of his all-Mexican showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on May 6, 2017. The WBC, under Don Jose’s son, Mauricio Sulaiman, also is a staunch proponent of the VADA-endorsed Clean Boxing Program, which in effect means that the sanctioning body supported the disciplinary measures against Canelo after he tested positive for Clenbuterol. Golovkin will be defending his WBC, WBA and IBO 160-pound titles against Canelo, and, as unlikely as it might seem, there might be a few stray WBC officials who will be secretly pulling for GGG to retain its strap against the presumably ungrateful challenger.
And if all that weren’t enough, there’s this: GGG, who is acutely aware of his upward-trending place in the annals of boxing as a whole and especially middleweight boxing, matched the great Bernard Hopkins’ division record of 20 title defenses when he blew away Vanes Martirosyan in two rounds on May 5 of this year, can seize the top spot for himself by holding serve against Canelo. Golovkin wants that record, and badly, and his resolve has been hardened by his unwavering belief that Canelo was the beneficiary of better boxing through chemistry in their first fight, and probably before that as well.
My esteemed colleague Frank wrote that “there’s no way Canelo is going to lose unless Gennady stops him and I don’t think that is remotely possible.” It says here that GGG is the more devastating puncher, among the best ever produced in the middleweight division, and he augments that special brand of power with an ability to routinely shake off the other guy’s best shots. It is a combination that is apt to serve him well, along with his conviction that Canelo is a cheater who skirted the rules, in a bout whose outcome, to me, is as guaranteed as the one foreseen by the usually prescient Mr. Lotierzo.
It’s just that GGG is the one who will have his hand hoisted when all is said and done. I’m calling it Golovkin by eighth-round stoppage. What say you, TSS readers?
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