Golovkin v Canelo: An Early Look
By: Ben Sutherland
With the controversial Ward v Kovalev rematch slowly fading from memory and the beginning of their press tour, thoughts now turn to September’s much anticipated mega fight between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Early odds have Golovkin as a slight favorite at -160 while Canelo currently sits at +140.
The clash of these two men, who are both known for their punching power, certainly has the potential to be explosive.
The two men are seasoned veterans, having accrued large fan bases, high profile and fearsome reputations over their long careers. Golovkin had a very extensive amateur career where he won a world championship in 2003 and an Olympic silver medal in 2004, both at middleweight. Since turning professional, GGG has accumulated 37 wins with an incredible 33 of those wins coming by way of knockout. This amateur pedigree combined with his destructive power and until recently, his relative ambiguit, has meant he has been very much avoided for a large portion of his career with his toughest fights coming in the form of Canadian David Lemiuex and Brooklynite Danny Jacobs..
On the other hand, Canelo turned pro at the age of 15 and after a few formative years fighting on the domestic scene in Mexico, he began to gain notoriety. He made is pay per view debut in 2010 on an HBO card headlined by Floyd Mayweather v Shane Moseley. Since then, a string of high profile fights have made him a household name and a superstar in his native Mexico. His resume is incredibly impressive featuring wins over Miguel Cotto, Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland with his only loss coming via a majority decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr, the best pound for pound fighter of his generation. Even his recent fights for which he has been criticized have been against three current of former world champions, all of whom me made look very average. Amir Khan has some of fastest hands in boxing, Liam Smith was an undefeated world champion and Chavez Jr was a former WBC middleweight world champion.
Part of the reason so many have begun calling Golovkin’s name in recent months is because he has slowly begun to look more and more human. Cynics will point to the tightening of drug protocols as a possible reason for this. Golovkin won his fight against Brook, ultimately in convincing fashion, however at points he was outboxed by the lighter Brook and at least once, looked like he was hurt. The Brook fight raised questions about what would happen if he was confronted by an elite fighter who was a natural middleweight. Daniel Jacobs was that fighter and ended his knockout streak that had lasted since 2009. In what was an incredibly close fight, Golovkin looked spent in the late rounds as Jacobs came back at him hard after an early knockdown.
It is against this backdrop that Golovkin takes on what is by far the toughest test of his career. The two men are both big punchers and Golovkin, courtesy of his trainer Abel Sanchez, fights like a Mexican too. The prospect of these two men standing and trading in the middle of the ring is a thrilling one and is a big reason why this fight transcends into the casual market. Both men’s chins remain relatively untested however, there is no doubt they can take a punch and the possibility of the fight going to the judges is very real.
Canelo cedes about an inch in height to Golovkin but has a longer reach, measuring in at 179cm compared to Golovkin’s 178cm. As a result, there isn’t much to differentiate between the two there. Canelo boasts 34 KO’s on his record but definitely doesn’t pack the same power at Golovkin does. However, Golovkin is now 35 years old and for many, is quickly moving past his prime. In contrast, Canelo is 26 and coming into his peak years. Age brings with it stamina issues and decreasing power which seem to be sleeping into Golovkin. As a result the longer the fight goes, the better the chance Canelo has.
Canelo has traditionally struggled with the quicker and more technical, fighters such as Lara, Mayweather and briefly Khan. Canelo faces an entirely different prospect here. Golovkin, is yet to fight a genuinely elite fighter: Brook was good but far too light and Lemieux and Jacobs were very much B class world champions.
Canelo is pretty experienced at the highest level but has never fought a man of comparable size and power, whilst Golovkin is more untested in a broader sense. This raises the questions which makes this fight so intriguing. For me, Canelo’s stamina, experience and recent track record make him a slight favorite. However, it truly is a pick em fight and there really is nothing between these two men.
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