LAS VEGAS – For the first time in the history of the Canelo Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin rivalry, Jim Lampley will not be behind the mic.
As a network sportscaster, he covered 14 Olympics, and his 45 years of experience in calling some of the most significant boxing events of the modern era culminated with his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2015.
Since the HBO exit from boxing nearly four years ago, Lampley's priorities have switched from television to the classroom and, in a sense, the playground. One of his “many” grandchildren was kind enough to say hello towards the end of our 14-minute conversation.
Jim Lampley: “Scout! Say hi, I'm Scout!”
Scout: “Hi, I'm Scout!”
Jim Lampley: “There you go.”
On the other hand, his other commitment is to his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, where he teaches Comm 490, Evolution of Storytelling in American Electronic News Media.
But Lampley's true passion lies within the realms of the sweet science. He accepted the interview before knowing who had requested to speak with him. From my perspective, that spoke volumes and further exemplified that Lampley still has boxing flowing through his veins.
We dug deep; I asked Jim Lampley for his prediction of Canelo Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin III, and as one can imagine, it was quite thorough.
“I have to make Canelo the favorite just because of what we've seen from the judges' scoring in the first two fights,” he stated in an exclusive interview with NYFights.com. “I don't think there's any question that—for whatever reason—judges have an inner predilection towards the money fighter, which in this instance in Las Vegas definitely means the fighter with Mexican roots and a huge Mexican following.
“I've never seen, to this day, an Eastern European fighter get what I think of as an absolutely fair shake in a close fight in Las Vegas. What I've mostly seen is Eastern European fighters getting the short end of the stick from judges in Las Vegas.”
Jim Lampley used former light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev (35-4-1, 29 KOs) as an example when he was controversially outpointed by now-retired Hall of Famer Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) in November 2016 in Las Vegas. While Ward knocked out Kovalev in a subsequent rematch, the sting from the first fight is still a sore spot for many boxing fans when the topic of robberies comes into the fray.
The 73-year-old implied that Golovkin, age 40, might have to do more than just outbox Canelo to get a victory.
“If it comes down to the end and you know it's going to be a close decision, and you aren't sure in your own mind who should have been the winner, you have to suspect that the decision will go to Canelo,” Jim Lampley said. “That's what we've seen, that's the natural body language of Las Vegas, and I'm sure that weighs on Gennadiy's mind and concerns him as he goes into the fight.
“He was very sure that he had won the first fight, he didn't get that decision. I think he probably thought that he had won the second fight too, and he didn't get that decision. I tend to believe that Gennadiy goes into the ring expecting not to get a fair shake from the judges again. Therefore, I think he'll try even harder to get a knockout to win the fight. And when you press the issue,” Jim Lampley explained, “and try hard to get a knockout to win the fight, one of the things you risk is that you're going to open yourself up for the other guy to score the knockout.
More smart stuff from Professor Jim Lampley: “Given that Canelo has already been to a weight level above 168 and Gennadiy is fighting for the first time at 168, logic tells you if anybody is gonna get a knockout in this fight, it's more likely to be Canelo than Gennadiy. But those are tendencies, likelihoods, and scenarios that we've seen before. Whatever happens tonight, it will be its own thing, different from the first two fights, different from any of the other fights I've seen with Eastern European fighters in Las Vegas. It's own thing, whatever happens, Saturday night.”
The 32 year old Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) and Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs), in their first fight in September 2017, fought to a split draw in one of the most controversial decisions in recent memory. A vast majority thought Golovkin, who retained the middleweight title, clearly outboxed Canelo. After Alvarez failed two drug tests and was handed a six-month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which initially postponed their rematch, the pair met again in September 2018. This time, Alvarez won a close majority decision to end Golovkin's reign as a 160-pound titleholder in another scintillating matchup.
However, this fight will mark the first time their rivalry will expand past the 160-pound division. Alvarez won the undisputed championship last November 6 when he stopped Caleb Plant in the 11th round in a Showtime Pay-Per-View main event at MGM Grand Garden Arena. He moved up in weight this past May to challenge WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol but lost a one-sided unanimous decision.
Golovkin, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, is coming off a ninth-round TKO of previously unbeaten Ryota Murata in Japan to become a two-time unified middleweight world champion.
Four years later, their hatred has only continued to brew. You got solid material from Jim Lampley to mull as we count down to round one of fight three. The question that will be answered tonight (DAZN PPV and PPV.com, 8 p.m. ET). is whether it's a cold brew or a hot brew. But logic tells me both guys want to end this rivalry in cold-hearted fashion.