After the hype comes the substance. Las Vegas recovered quickly from the money match when Floyd Mayweather Jr battered Conor McGregor into submission. This weekend, the desert city hosts a bout with the potential to be a classic.
Gennady Golovkin finally meets Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez at the T-Mobile Arena with ‘Sold Out’ signs hanging over the box office for some time. It’s no surprise; Golovkin is 39 – 0 while Alvarez is 49 – 1 – 1 and the pair are by far and away the best fighters in the division.
The pair are fighting for the IBF, IBO, WBA ‘Super’ and WBC titles on Saturday night. Britain’s Billy Joe Saunders defends his WBO title against Willie Monroe Jr with Golovkin setting his sights on a unification bout in the near future.
Not that it is cut and dried that Triple G will retain his belts. He likes to fight on the front foot, using the power which has brought him 33 KO’s to date while Golovkin must be wary of Alvarez’s counter-punching style.
The Mexican is three-time World Champion across two weights – light middleweight and middleweight – and vastly more experienced that his opponent despite being eight years his junior. His one defeat came in a split-decision four years ago against Floyd Mayweather Jr. The manner of victory masks the Money’s dominance during the bout.
Since then, Alvarez has won seven on the spin, including four knockouts. Like Golovkin, his last bout went the full twelve rounds as he too recorded a unanimous decision. Alvarez beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr while Golovkin defeated Daniel Jacobs in a tough bout which extended his talents to their fullest.
Jacobs was the first opponent to push Golovkin all the way, ending his run of 23 consecutive wins by KO. While Brooklyn-born fighter thought he had done enough to win, Triple G controlled large swathes of the bout and dropped Jacobs in the 4th round. Going the stamina-sapping distance was excellent preparation for the Alvarez fight; the Mexican has his country’s proud machismo underpinning his ability and won’t be lightly dispatched.
In his 11-year career, the only bout in which he genuinely struggled to impose himself was the last. Was it Jacobs who thwarted Golovkin’s natural controlled aggression or was it just an off-night? Either way the champion won; the sign of true fighter is the one who wins when plans aren’t clicking into gear.
There are questions hanging which will be answered on Saturday night. Alvarez will certainly test him as he looks to avoid the incoming powerful blows from the Kazakh based on the exquisite timing of the punch.
Some of the sheen from his seeming invincibility was lost by Jacobs ability to absorb his punches repeatedly through their bout. Is the power diminished by age? Can Alvarez follow suit and take advantage with his robust counters?
Golovkin recently declared this was his “history fight”, the one which will be remembered in same breath as Hagler and Hearns, Leonard and Duran. That’s a huge expectation to put onto the bout, particularly with the build-up devoid of the usual braggadocio from either man.
If the fight turns out to be that good, boxing is the winner.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
With Oscar de la Hoya in his camp, Alvarez doesn’t lack for experience and advice. Nor does he lack belief in himself. His career began at 15 when he fought for cash and despite being in his late-20s, he’s fought more fights than the 41-year-old Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Money looms large in Alvarez’s career; he inflicted the only defeat of the Mexican’s career four years ago. Since then, it’s been a procession of wins including a 6th round knockout of Amir Khan in May 2016.
Alvarez’s main weapon is the speed of his hands and his ability to pen his opponent into tight corners before unleashing sublime combinations on his victims. He will need to be wary of Golovkin’s movement around the ring but both are durable.
Defensively, the Mexican is improving as the fight against Chavez Jr displayed. Heavier, La Leyenda Continua couldn’t halt his compatriot. It’s a testament to Alvarez’s mental strength that the defeat against Mayweather saw him improve afterwards and not slip into the realms of the has-been.
This is a key area where Alvarez is being under-estimated. Golovkin is the more devastating puncher but in using the counter, Canelo is using that power against his opponent. The intriguing aspect will be how they match up with Triple G prowling the ring while ‘cinnamon’ uses his speed.
FORM (Last 5 bouts – all wins)
Gennady Golovkin by UD / TKO / KO / TKO / TKO
Saul Canelo Alavrez by UD / KO / KO / UD / KO
- Golovkin’s record is 37 wins and 0 defeats; 33 by KO
- Alvarez has 49 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat; 34 by KO
CURRENT MATCH ODDS (BEST PRICED ODDS)
Rated by many as the best pound – for – pound fighter still active today, Golovkin is a clear favourite with the bookmakers. His record, with 33 wins by KO, underlines the respect in which he is held.
Alvarez though has a more impressive list of opponents. Against all but one of them, he’s emerged victorious and being one of Floyd Mayweather’s victims carries no shame.
When you compare the two, everything between them is negligible except for one factor: age.
With youth on his side, Alvarez is the more athletic, nimbler on his feet. He’ll need to be to force Golovkin to miss with more punches than he hits. Wearing his opponent down, forcing him to expend more energy in pursuit around the ring is a key weapon in Alvarez’s armoury.
But he must also land his punches and test Golovkin’s chin in the latter stages as his stamina dips.
Can he do it? Eddy Reynoso in his corner has impeccable credentials and knows boxing inside out. The pair will have worked on a masterplan to exploit this advantage and it’s why I believe Alvarez will win on points.
MY RECOMMENDED BETS
- Under 10.5 rounds: 15/8 with Paddy Power – Visit Paddy Power!
- Golovkin by TKO: 5/2 with BetVictor – Visit BetVictor!
- Golovkin by decision: 7/2 with Coral – Visit Coral!
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Francois is one of Howtobet4free’s co-founders and has written many of Howtobet4free’s popular Betting Guides. Francois also helps run the @howtobet4free_ Twitter account