“No more foreplay.”
–James Bond, Goldeneye
All the talking is over. Tonight, at a wild T-Moblie Arena on HBO PPV, Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34KOs) represents a new and angry “Golden Boy” for CEO Oscar De La Hoya as he takes on a defiant Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-0-1, 34KOs). Friday's weigh-in at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas carried weight far beyond any scales to measure. I'm not going to say long reigning middleweight champion was intimidated yesterday, but Triple G does understand that he will not face the two versions of Alvarez he's seen before: the first, a somewhat green Canelo looking for seasoning during those spirited sparring sessions at Big Bear, California about seven years ago; the other a somewhat tentative fighter who paid homage to Golovkin and the middleweight division. This time, neither “Triple G” or “GGG” will have seen this Canelo, who will look past both as if myths. His focus will be squarely centered on “deading” what he believes to be a very mortal Gennady Golovkin tonight, as one of Golovkin's ring alter ego's will have to do something about that in order for the annals of history to be kind.
I have to say, this blood is as bad as I've ever seen between two fighters with so much on the line. Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler absolutely hated each other and it showed. Their first round in April 1985 is easily the greatest first round in the history of boxing, just as their fight is arguably the greatest in middleweight history. Canelo V GGG 2 has a chance to enter that conversation. Because of all that's been said, we should all be talking about what was done on Sunday morning. Let's take a look at a few areas I believe will most likely decide the outcome of this superfight and who should emerge victorious.
Golovkin places his heavy handed shots well. His jab has been the most consistently authoritative strike in all of boxing and is the key to his arsenal. GGG's overhand right and left hook to the body are harder punches than anything Canelo can throw. In the first fight, Canelo decided to take away the overhand right, never really allowing Triple G to land that punch. If Canelo decides the jab is the punch that needs to go this time (as I suspect he will), then that means an angry Alvarez will engage in more trench warfare with Golovkin from the opening bell. If he does, he'll walk directly into the eye of Golovkin's storm and face the brunt of his mid-range power shots.
The Mexican icon has never been a fast fighter, but Canelo does have good speed and surprising quickness. Canelo's upper body speed and agility is what really gives him the advantage in this category as the younger fighter. Their feet are about even, but Alvarez should be able to find soft spots in the ring faster than Golovkin to unleash power shots with more pace. This area, more than any other, is what I believe will be the key to the fight, as Canelo clearIy has the faster hands. I expect Alvarez to look like a much bigger (and younger) Juan Manuel Marquez against an older and slower Kostya Tszyu in Golovkin.
One of the more intelligent fighters in all of boxing, Canelo is the consummate counter-puncher that can win in a variety of ways. A solid ring general, Alvarez presents a patient, polished and poised attack behind an array of technical skills to outwit a classic boxer, and/or the physical talent to offset and derail a puncher with clever subtlety until breaking him. Golovkin isn't really about secrets– you know he's coming and dares you to stop him. The best phone booth fighter in the sport, Triple G features a powerful claustrophobic game of geometry until his opponent runs out of space.
One of the more underrated defensive fighters in boxing, Alvarez can “swim without getting wet” as trainer Nazim Richardson would say. He'll never be confused with Floyd Mayweather or Pernell Whitaker, but Canelo sees punches very well and will lock in on any tendency to eliminate aspects of an offense entirely. The Mexican moves his head and upper body well enough to slip shots and parry, and has shown a granite chin. Golovkin, on the other hand, usually wins a game of distance control and suffocates a wary foe with volume. Not especially difficult to hit, Golovkin's otherworldly chin will absorb power shots and psychologically break the will of a man while imposing his own.
I'll never believe the issue Clenbuteral related madness to Canelo was real. As Errol Spence Jr might say from a podium, it was all “smoke and mirrors” for the world of entertainment and greed. The question is, will it linger enough to affect the ring performance of Alvarez tonight? At 28, Canelo is five years removed from receiving an “F” from Floyd Mayweather on the superfight exam, but that was in his youth against one of the best classic boxers the world has ever seen. Is he ready to receive an “A” tonight and become the world's best fighter? Dating back two years now, Golovkin has shown moer gradual attrition in three consecutive fights (I'm sorry but, Vanes Martirosyan doesn't count). Did Kell Brook, Daniel Jacobs and last year's Canelo Alvarez remove Golovkin from the historic KO machine the world came to know. A 2004 silver medalist who reportedly hasn't been down in the gym or in the ring – ever – is this the night that Golovkin shows all the chinks in his armor? Or will Golovkin, with a record number of defenses within his grasp to eclipse Bernard Hopkins, turn back the clock to smash his bitter rival for glory?
PREDICTION: CANELO KO 8
Sometimes we have to fight a battle more than once to win it. For these two, its all about climbing the same perilous Mt. Everest and definitively raising the stakes, if only for one of them to boldly leave the bloody flag of Mexico or Kazakhstan waving on top of the mountain. This rematch, the first for both fighters, has the look of a street fight decided by the faster and more durable fighter. The fighter with more tenacity and desire, with an entire nation's pride riding on his shoulders. I don't know about you, but I don't think of Golovkin and Kazakhstan and get all excited about a rich boxing history or fervor about the sweet science– there is no history there. All Golovkin can do, at 36, is hope to beat a pissed off man in his absolute prime, while winning over his pissed off fan base and one of the most prestigious titles in all of sports officially. None of that makes any sense, unless you believe the past will do away with the future. Come tomorrow, the topic of Clenbuteral will be yesterday's discussion. I think Canelo channels his rage into a combination punching counter-puncher, one willing to be first with his jab and get to Golovkin's body. If Canelo is really on his game, he'll turn an even fight on paper into a modern rendition of Oscar De La Hoya V Julio Cesar Chavez I.
If he's at his savage best, I can see a brutal replay of Roberto Duran V Davey Moore. Most likely finishing Golovkin and HBO (which, like GGG, would appear to be on the cusp of an obsolete brand), look for Canelo Alvarez to turn in the performance of his career by declaring #Mandown on Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, shocking the boxing world via 8th round TKO in an instant classic.