By Charles Jay
As much as some people want to speculate on how either Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez might have a new and fresh approach to the idea of fighting each other again, this one may come down to the same fundamentals that governed the first bout that took place almost exactly a year ago. And your opinion might, in turn, be governed by who you thought won that initial encounter.
Since that first fight wound up being a draw, there is some reason to believe that both fighters, feeling that they actually deserved to win, would come into the bout the a game plan that is similar. So we’re going to go back a year in time to examine that. One thing that might be a little different is that Canelo is now being closely watched in terms of his intake of performance-enhancing substances, and therefore can’t – in the words of his detractors – cheat to get the result he wants.
Of course, this is an HBO-distributed pay-per-view event, priced at $84.95 (price may vary) for WBA, WBO and IBO middleweight belts, and takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Here are the odds on the fight:
Gennady Golovkin -160
Canelo Alvarez +130
Over 11.5 Rounds -245
Under 11.5 Rounds +195
I’m not sure it’s instructive to get caught up in the drug tests, the trash talk, the shoving matches at the weigh-in. This stuff means very little once the bell rings, unless in the case of PED’s and Alvarez, there is something he isn’t taking that is adversely affecting his physical presence. Even so, if you watched the first fight, you noticed something very glaring: Golovkin was pretty consistently advancing against Alvarez, moving him all around the ring, and it was obviously that from a physical standpoint Canelo was at a deficit. GGG was walking though his punches, and even though Alvarez may have landed more of them, Golovkin had the harder blows. This may be disputed by some, but you weren’t going to find any instances in which the champion was getting backed up.
Could these conditions possibly be different the second time around? I see that as being extremely unlikely; what is Canelo going to do – overpower this guy? That’s not going to happen. Getting into a slugging match isn’t going to be a successful undertaking.
But Alvarez knew this a year ago. Although as the smaller man, he may have possessed some natural edge in speed, he was nonetheless the smaller man (by virtual of being a 154-pounder moving up), and he was rather shy about mixing it up for most of the fight. What he did manage to do was slip a lot of punches, and the opinion here is that Golovkin can be outboxed. But it’s doubtful as to whether Canelo is going to do that unless he fights almost perfectly, doing the whole “hit and don’t get hit” thing. I would not call him a slick technician by mature; his best results come when he is taking a very aggressive posture. But if he did that against GGG it would carry some risks. Can he take those risks?
The observation on this end was that Canelo was having a difficult time holding up his hands, starting about the fifth round, and when he was able to land something, it was in spurts that didn’t last very long. To his credit, it did seem as though he gained a second wind in the last three rounds, landing with some combinations, but you still had the impression that he was not doing any damage.
In this second fight, is Canelo Alvarez going to be stronger than Golovkin? No. Are his punches going to start hurting GGG, where they weren’t before? No. Will he be able to out-hustle Golovkin, beating him to the punch on a regular basis? Well, that could be a possibility. I think it is his ONLY possibility. But GGG has the weapon that can control the “tempo” of this fight, to use the oft-beaten cliche. And that’s his left jab, which he can throw with some authority. So maybe another good question is whether he is going to use it more.
I think he can, and will. When a fighter is backing up the other constantly, that demonstrates something in the way of ring generalship, particularly if he is not getting peppered coming in. You may have guessed by now that I had Golovkin winning the first fight (by an 8-4 margin in rounds) and although judges can’t always be trusted, the one who did indeed vote for GGG last time (Dave Moretti) is once again involved here. I don’t know if GGG will be the busier fighter, but – and here we go again with the cliches – he should be able to impose his will enough to come out of this with a victory.