By Paul Mason (@PaulMason1986)
Finally the one the boxing purists have been waiting for is upon us. Following the circus or event that was Mayweather v McGregor last month, two premier pound for pound stars clash at the T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The WBC, WBA(Super) IBF, and IBO belts are all on the line as Kazakhstan’s Middleweight monster, and holder of all of the belts mentioned, Gennady Golovkin meets Mexico’s number one, and a man coming up from Super Welterweight in Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. This will be Canelo’s first assignment at the official Middleweight limit, having reigned as WBC champion for a spell in 2015/16. However, he won the title from Miguel Cotto at a catch weight of 155lbs (Super Welterweight limit is 154lbs, whereas Middleweight is 160lbs) and defended once against Amir Khan, again at 155lbs. He was a career high 164lbs when facing Julio Cesar Chavez Junior last time out. HBO Televise on pay per view in the USA, while BoxNation have this as a pay per view event in the UK.
Golovkin, on the other hand, is a fully fledged career long Middleweight, and represents a massive assignment for Alvarez. This truly is a dream matchup. A man who has had his division running for the hills in Golovkin, against a man who has physically dominated the Super Welterweight division with his size, strength and power in Canelo. Alvarez now feels the time is right following the Kazakh’s tight points victory over Danny Jacobs in March.
Gennady Golovkin made his professional debut in May 2006, following a stellar amateur career, which included a Silver Medal at the 2004 Olympics and 2003 World Championship Gold. He finished his amateur career with an amazing reported record of 345-5. To date, only four men have taken Golovkin the distance, and at that, only an eight round distance until meeting Danny Jacobs in March this year. Mehdi Bouadla, Ian Gardner and Amar Amari and Jacobs are the only men to finish fights with “GGG”.
Of his first 18 fights, 17 were fought in Germany and once in Denmark. He ventured to Panama in fight number 19 and won the interim WBA Middleweight Title, with a first round knockout of Milton Nunez. He was then upgraded to full champion, and promptly knocked out Kassim Ouma, Lajuan Simon and Makoto Fuchigami. This bought him to the attention of the USA and the wider public and earned him exposure on HBO, making his American debut, crushing Grzegorz Proksa in five rounds in New York. After nine more successful defences, including against, Daniel Geale and Britons Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray, he then unified by brutally outclassing IBF Champion David Lemieux in Madison Square Garden.
After a simple second round stoppage against Dominic Wade, Golovkin was then in talks to fight Chris Eubank Junior. When talks stalled, in stepped the IBF Welterweight Champion, Kell Brook. Brook jumped up two weight classes, and had his successes during the fight. But eventually he was saved for another day, albeit with a fractured eye socket for good measure, being pulled out in the fifth round.
In GGG’s last fight, he was made to look mortal in a defence of his belts against Danny Jacobs. In a close fight, where Jacobs had plenty of success, Golovkin was taken the distance for the first time since 2008, and managed to win on the cards, by one point on one judges card, and by three points on the remaining two cards. Many observers saw the fight for Jacobs, and rounds were often hard to score.
Incredibly, Alvarez turned professional in October 2005 at the age of 15 in his native Mexico, knocking out the 0-1 Abraham Gonzalez in the fourth and final round at Super Lightweight. He suffered a blemish on his record in only his fifth fight, drawing over four rounds with Jorge Juarez. From there on he campaigned mainly at welterweight, and won 27 straight fights, 30 of his first 32 fights took place in Mexico, before making a big fight debut at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas in May 2010. He stopped Jose Miguel Cotto in nine on the Mayweather v Shane Mosley bill. Two fights later came his breakout performance in a six round knockout of the tough Argentine former WBC Champion, Carlos Baldomir at Super Welterweight. A unanimous win over Lovemore N’Dou in Mexico followed, before Canelo challenged for his first World Title. He met Britain’s Matthew Hatton for the vacant WBC Super Welterweight Title. The weight difference between the two was vast due to Hatton being a career Welterweight and Alvarez ballooning by fight night. Hatton gave a good account of himself and succumbed to a unanimous points defeat.
In Canelo’s first defence he met another British fighter, this time in Sheffield’s Ryan Rhodes. Again Alvarez was far too strong, and eventually wore down the Yorkshireman in the final minute of the final round. Four defences followed (Alfonso Gomez TKO6, Kermit Cintron TKO5, Shane Mosley, unanimous & Josesito Lopez TKO5) before Alvarez unified the division by outpointing the unbeaten WBA Champion, Austin Trout. This lead to a superfight with Floyd Mayweather in September 2013. The fight came too early for the 23 year old. He was out hustled by the wily Mayweather, and although one judge (CJ Ross) inexplicably turned in a draw on her card, she was rightly over ruled by her two fellow judges to hand Canelo his first defeat and surrender his belts.
Alvarez retuned to stop Alfredo Angulo in the tenth, before a controversial split decision win over Erislandy Lara, in a fight that was difficult to score due to the slippery style of the Cuban. James Kirkland was then blasted out in three rounds before Canelo stepped up in weight and challenged future hall of famer, Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto for his WBC Middleweight Championship. Bizarrely the match took place with Canelo weighing 155lbs and Cotto 153.5lbs, some 5 and 6.5lbs away from the Middleweight limit. Again Canelo was too big and strong, and he triumphed via a wide points decision.
Amir Khan then made the leap from Welterweight to a catch weight of 155lbs to challenge the Mexican in his first defence. Khan used speed to his advantage, and was well in the fight, until Alvarez laid him out cold in the sixth round. Canelo then moved back down to the Super Welterweight limit to challenge for Liam Smith’s WBO Title in a stadium fight in Texas. Alvarez was well on top and stopped Smith in the ninth to the body after having him down several times during the fight. Last time out back in May Alvarez easily outpointed the limited Julio Cesar Chavez Junior in a battle of Mexico that failed to ignite, thanks largely to Chavez.
Although my mind changes regularly on this one depending on who I speak to, my tentative pick is Golovkin by late stoppage. I’m unsure if Canelo can last the pace with GGG, and has had his hand forced to take this fight after seeing Golovkin turn in a less than usually impressive performance last time out against Jacobs. I can’t see GGG making that mistake twice, and expect him to turn in a different performance this time around. I also feel that the bigger the occasion, the more nerves will kick in for Canelo especially. He was overwhelmed by the occasion and the opposition against Floyd Mayweather, albeit back in 2013, and this could well happen again this Saturday. I think Golovkin will be too much for the Mexican, after some rocky moments early on, I can see Golovkin taking over around halfway, although my opinion may change a fair few more times before fight night!
One things for sure, is that this is one of the biggest fights in the last decade, and one that will go down in Middleweight history.
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