By Alex Beard (@alex_beard17)
On Saturday night, after a fight that failed to live up to expectations, one that surely will was announced. The long-awaited middleweight match-up between Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was confirmed by both fighters in the ring at the T-Mobile Arena, with September 16 the date for the biggest fight in boxing.
Following one of the easiest wins of his career over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Golden Boy Promotions has finally seen fit to let their cash cow test the waters against one of the most fearsome fighters in the sport. The fact that this announcement comes after one of the – by his standards – worst performances of Golovkin’s career against Danny Jacobs should be lost on no one.
There are some who thought the Kazakh lost his last outing, while there can be no one who felt Canelo lost more than one round against a listless Chavez. So with Canelo showing no ill effects fighting at a higher weight, and with Golovkin finally appearing vulnerable, can the Mexican now be considered the favourite?
Of course, it’s not that simple.
Against Golovkin, Jacobs put in a performance far beyond anyone’s expectations. He was brave, awkward and proved that GGG isn’t the indestructible force some painted him as. Chavez, on the other hand, looked either completely unwilling or completely unable to prevent the offensive onslaught of Alvarez.
So the performances of their opponents have to be taken into account, but there’s no denying that Canelo’s team will have gained confidence from the scare Jacobs gave GGG.
Canelo’s not as rangy as Jacobs, obviously, he’s a stockier, more powerful man. And his reflexes, while exceedingly quick, are not quite on a par with ‘The Miracle Man’. Having said that, his jab is far superior, his variety of shots much better and he might be – pound-for-pound – a harder hitter than the American.
He’s also one of the most experienced 26 year olds the sport has ever seen. He made his professional debut in 2005 and has been fighting at the top level for numerous years now. He’s beaten the likes of Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto, seeing every style of fighter imaginable over the course of his career – while losing only to the best boxer of his generation in Floyd Mayweather.
In Golovkin, however, he’ll be facing a unique blend of blistering power and underrated technical ability. On Saturday Chavez moved only in a straight line and rarely represented anything other than target practice for Canelo. That won’t be the case with Golovkin. There aren’t many fighters who cut the ring off better than the Kazakh, and Canelo can ill afford to play possum on the ropes as he did against his compatriot.
GGG understands when to increase his output, when to throw in a body shot, and when his opponent is hurt. He knows how to create opportunities and he’s able to capitalise on them more often than not. Even in a diminished showing against Jacobs he demonstrated he has the gas tank to go the full 12 rounds – something he may be asked to do against Alvarez.
Jacobs recently said that, providing he can take his power, Canelo will beat Golovkin. Mayweather also believes his former opponent will prevail, even claiming he’ll stop GGG. So, after both men’s most recent efforts, should you put a fiver on Canelo?
Well in the States Golovkin is still listed as the betting favourite, coming in at -157 to Canelo’s +150, according to Pro Boxing Odds. However, in early 2016 Golovkin was sitting pretty at -350 while Canelo was +265. So, the times they are a-changin’…
Really, though, you can’t put much stock in Canelo’s dominance against an opponent who didn’t seem to want to be in there. In fact, you could make the argument that if Golovkin were in Canelo’s shoes on Saturday night he would have got Chavez out of there pretty easily.
One thing is clear, however: the fight is more of a toss-up now than it was 12 months ago. Let’s just hope that, unlike Saturday night, this one lives up to expectations.by