By: Ben Sutherland
Tomorrow night’s highly anticipated bout between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin is going the distance and here’s why.
First let’s look at Canelo. His aggressive Mexican style makes many fans believe he has what it takes to knock out Golovkin. However, a closer analysis of his last few fights does not necessarily support this assumption. His most recent win against Chavez Jr went the distance. Of course, Chavez was coming down from light heavyweight and didn’t come to fight. However, Canelo had 12 rounds of one sided fighting to try and get rid of him and didn’t come close. Before that, he fought Great Britain’s Liam Smith and whilst that fight was a knockout, he was a class above Smith going into the fight and was the much bigger man, coming down in weight. Canelo devastatingly knocked out Amir Khan but Khan has a notoriously weak chin and was coming up from welterweight to fight him. Prior to the Khan fight, Canelo comfortably beat Cotto but also failed to stop him. Does Canelo have power? Of course he does, he is a world class boxer. But I can’t help but feel that thanks to the additional muscle that Canelo has packed on, his power has been greatly overstated in the wider media in the build up to this fight.
Similar evidence is readily available to refute claims about Golovkin’s current power at the highest level. Yes he has in previous years been avoided due to his knockout potential and 33 KO’s in his 37 professional fights somewhat confirm these fears. The most obvious piece of evidence is his recent fight against Danny Jacobs. Whilst he put Jacobs down in the fight, it was a flash knockdown rather than a legitimately destructive knockdown. Jacobs clearly wasn’t that hurt by it as he fought back to take Golovkin 12 rounds, asking questions that had previously not been put to Golovkin in his professional career. Prior to Jacobs, Golovkin actually looked somewhat suspect for a brief second against Kell Brook. Whilst the fight ended in stoppage as Brooks corner threw in the towel, it says more about underlying structural weaknesses in Brook than it does about Golovkin’s power, especially when you consider that Brooks other eye socket was damaged in his more recent bout with Errol Spence Jr. Golovkin has left a trail of destruction in his wake in all of his fights prior to Brook, hence his reputation. However, all of those boxers were not elite world champion fighters like Canelo and Golovkin was simply a cut above them all. Once again does Golovkin have devastating power? Certainly at a lower level but he hasn’t consistently got rid boxers from the highest echelons of the sport. The power he does have is also waning. Father time is catching up to him and slowly stripping him of the power that Martin Murray described as making him “feel like he was giving birth”.
There is also the not so small issue that neither of these fighters have ever been knocked down, let alone knocked out. Golovkin especially, has a notoriously strong chin. As much as Canelo has been branded as the epitome of a Mexican fighter, he has great defense and is incredibly evasive. He has also taken a few shots in his time and has barely been wobbled. Whilst often in boxing, a strong chin really means that a fighter doesn’t get hit very much, both fighters have taken punches and handled it with aplomb.
Granted, this fight represents new challenges for both boxers but there is no real reason to suggest that either fighter will all of a sudden become vulnerable in this fight. Much has been made of Canelo’s new bulk that he has added in this training camp but ultimately he still has to make 160lb the day before the fight and 170lb the day of the fight if he wants to fight for the IBF title. Consequently, any advantage he gains will be at least somewhat mitigated. Not to mention the potential reduction in speed that this bulk also carries.
This lack of knockout becomes more likely when you consider the gravity of this fight for both men. It is career defining stuff. Consequently, it’s a fight in which both fighters will look to minimize risk. Whilst Oscar De La Hoya is trying to pitch the fight as a fire slinging brawl, I hardly suspect that it will be so. It is important to bear in mind that De La Hoya is a promoter trying to sell a fight in a post Mayweather v McGregor vacuum in which most fans pay per view budgets have been seriously depleted. A more likely scenario is that both fighters will dance around each other for a couple of rounds and ease their way into the fight. By the time either fighter gets into their work, they will be deep into the fight and therefore fatigued and will have consequently lost their edge in the power department.
Canelo is the younger, more technically proficient boxer and in a world where there is no knockout, I think Canelo’s youth and skills will allow him to craft out a victory on points. However, when I sit down at the bar on Saturday night to watch the spectacle, I will be anticipating 45 minutes of enthralling boxing action. For my money, it is going the distance.