By Jake Collins / @MelancholyFolly
In all honesty, this rematch – to me at least – has that languid feeling of a second date you’re suddenly not THAT bothered about. It’ll be pleasant to see them again, sure. You had a really cool time initially and all seemed well. You even considered going in for a kiss after the cinema but then Byrd pulled out a disastrous card before your date then failed a drugs test at work. So, there’s that. I’ve also found that the ‘trash’ talking between the two has felt particularly forced and not the least bit organic. Daily, I see articles in which Oscar profusely sweats in a corner of a Walmart mumbling the words “I really think he’ll KO him this time”, followed by another where Sanchez is propped up on a bus telling the guy next to him his wacky nicknames for Canelo. The gentleman has another twenty minutes before he is home but elects to get off the bus to scurry from this madman anyway. Look, it’ll likely still be a decent fight but I know I’m not alone in losing that voracious desire to see these two square off again. I loved GGG for being the dude that wasn’t about making bank. It’s become evident with the lucidity of time however that this is not the case. He effectively agreed to lose his IBF belt so as not to risk losing the money fight with Canelo. He can claim legacy all he wants but the overwhelming majority of people know how they scored that fight. Boxrec ain’t nothin’ but an algorithm, baby. Anyway, I digress. What can we expect from either fighter in this tepidly anticipated rematch?
The onus seems to be on Golovkin to make changes here, which seems odd given that most people that are neither Mexican nor GBP employees think he won the first fight. He has slowed and his explosiveness has been extinguished to a degree (neither of these will be better by the time of the rematch), both of which have been reflected in his jab-heavy style, I feel. The jab has always been the front door to GGG’s corridor of fistic variety but it has certainly become a much more crucial tool for him. Despite the talk from his team, I expect he will be buying a ticket for Canelo to jab-fest 2018, as opposed to going all out right away. I noticed in the Vanes fight that he was following the jab with an uppercut a little more, which would be a useful tool. His right cross was too easily telegraphed by Canelo in the first fight which allowed him to pivot out of danger too often. The lack of body work was lamented but you have to assume this was to avoid Canelo’s snappy counters. Golovkin’s chin has never really been in question and he said Canelo’s shot felt like slaps, so there should be no real excuse not to go body snatching a little more ferociously this time around. Canelo’s inability to fight for the full length of a round makes this seem a painfully obvious tactic. Beyond some minor adjustments like that, I doubt we’ll see much different offensively. His jab is a very powerful and accurate one, exemplified by the way he steps in behind it. That being his main part of the arsenal rendered his highlights of the fight to a minor role in proceedings. His loss of hand speed means he needs to be more intelligent with his punching. More feints, better use of angles. It may be the case he has to shorten some shots up and sacrifice power to try to land cleanly on Canelo.
Defensively, nothing will change. He rides shots very well (THAT punch in the 9th didn’t land as cleanly as you think) and takes short steps out of range when attacks come his way. He likes to parry the jab too but there isn’t a whole lot more to his defence than that. It does work to a degree; the amount of times in his career that he’s been caught cold isn’t nearly as many as detractors would have you believe. For someone as offensively orientated as Golovkin is, his defence is fine. Having said that, he needs to be more switched on here. Canelo’s counters not only catch you unaware but they LOOK damn good too, which (though it shouldn’t) sways judges. Being the age he is now at (thirty six), he’d be well advised to protect his body. Golvokin didn’t seem keen on taking body shots from the Mexican and as displayed against Liam Smith, he’s capable of making someone tumble from those hooks. We need to see the calculated killer of old here. Remember that dude who barely spoke English and looked like he’s carry your mum’s shopping home after battering yer da? That’s the man that needs to be in the ring.
Though I thought he lost, I also think he fought a damn good fight. Some have accused him of ‘running’ but I think that’s nonsense. This wasn’t a Lara job. Canelo launched plenty of his own attacks and – as expected – mostly countered. What Canelo did do, was largely excellent. Unfortunately most of his time was spent not doing that. His stamina has never been great but the amount of energy his style expunges seems to be understated. A slip, roll and counter (when you put your whole body into the counter) is tiring. He doesn’t pitty-patter with his return fire. Plus, Golovkin is a fighter who makes you work constantly during a fight. Canelo’s stamina isn’t suddenly going to improve at this stage of his career and he’s unlikely to change his style up. The talk of standing and trading with GGG is just kidology; Canelo is a clever fighter and he knows he’ll have success making the older man miss as opposed to standing and throwing shots with a man he doesn’t seem to be able to rock. Last time out, his aforementioned pivot was effective and I expect Canelo to use it again. Golovkin’s reliance on the jab makes it an easy option to slip, though it’s a difficult shot to time coming in. Canloe realises that Golovkin isn’t the hardest guy to find during a scrap, so more of his positive offence may garner results. It’s lost in the narrative that Canelo’s speed when setting up an attack caused GGG to step back at times.
Of course, he needs to spend less time laying on the ropes daydreaming about having a masculine voice. This is where he performed a lot of his wonderful evasive head movement but it is risky as Hell against a puncher. Canelo showed a superb chin himself in this fight but he was seldom caught clean – something he’ll need to perform over the distance once again. I think Canelo and his team anticipate little change on the other side. They believe they won the fight so it stands to reason that their plan will remain the same too. He knows Golovkin is slow enough to counter, he knows he isn’t defensively minded and he knows that those negative aspects will have only exacerbated since last time. He appears a little less bulky this time around, which would suggest he’s sacrificing strength in aid of speed or perhaps stamina. If that’s the case, it could be quite an astute move. Canelo wasn’t able to wobble Golovkin anyway, so why keep trying to smash through granite? If Canelo is able to fight in longer stretches over the course of the match then that’ll aid him massively. Of course, the risk is that he will feel Golovkin’s power more and perhaps be bullied. He has a smart team, so whatever the truth is, it’ll be intriguing to see how it pans out in reality.
Hopefully, my meandering cynicism toward this fight won’t rub off on you. It IS still a huge fight, it WILL be worth watching and it DOES matter in the magnificent scheme of the Middleweight division. I’ve seen plenty of those who feel the same but I sincerely hope you have that big fight feeling that comes around once in a while. To borrow some word’s from a man who shares my surname “The sea that drowns the rest shall spare me”by