By Thomas Albano
We are mere hours away from one of the most anticipated boxing matches in recent history — a historic unified middleweight championship bout. Gennady Golovkin defends his WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, and IBO middleweight world titles against The Ring‘s middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (with the vacant lineal title on the line as well).
This bout has been over a year in the making, as negotiations for this fight were first in early-mid 2016. However, Alvarez ended up surrendering the WBC Middleweight Championship, which would be awarded to Golovkin, and fought at light middleweight in a title bout with Liam Smith and a catchweight bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. But following that win over Chavez back in May, Golovkin entered the ring where Alvarez was standing, and the match became official.
Fighter background: Gennady Golovkin (GGG)
GGG (37-0, 33 KOs) made his professional boxing debut back on May 6, 2006, winning his bout in 1:28. Golovkin’s journey of gold started when he defeated Milton Nunez in August 2010 to become the interim WBA Middleweight Champion. He was promoted to sole, full-time champion two months later, after then-WBA champion Daniel Geale signed on to fight Anthony Mundine, which forced the WBA to strip Geale of his title.
Golovkin followed this up by winning the then-vacant IBO Middleweight Championship in December 2011 with a first-round knockout of Lajuan Simon. After a streak of title defenses over those next two years, Golovkin added to his collection in October 2014, when he defeated Marco Antonio Rubio via second-round KO to win the interim WBC title. And in October 2015, GGG defeated David Lemieux to win the IBF championship. He was then promoted to full-time WBC champ following Alvarez vacating the organization’s world title.
Fallout from GGG vs. Jacobs
In his most recent bout, back in March, Golovkin retained his titles against Daniel Jacobs with a unanimous decision win. It was the fourth time in 37 fights that GGG couldn’t get a KO/TKO, and the first time this happened since 2008. Plenty of people criticized GGG for not finishing Jacobs, and some even speculated GGG may have been holding back. In fact, Jacobs’ may have been Golovkin’s toughest test to date, as the scorecards in the end did read 115-112, 115-112, 114-113.
But there are still some (including this journalist), who feels that people wrote off Jacobs too quickly and underrate his ability. In fact, Golovkin stated in an interview with Yahoo that Jacobs proved to be a great learning experience for him. In addition, GGG, along with his trainer, the legendary Abel Sanchez, admits he may have held back a little in the Jacobs bout, but claims had he finished Jacobs, Alvarez would have backed away from this showdown. Alvarez faced severe criticism last year after turning away from GGG and giving up the WBC title, choosing to drop down to light middleweight.
Fighter background: Saul (Canelo) Alvarez
Speaking of which, let’s look at Alvarez’s resume. Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) made his professional boxing debut on Oct. 29, 2005, at just 15 years old, winning his first bout via fourth-round TKO. He didn’t lose in 43 bouts (though fifth bout, in June 2006, ended in a split draw).
After winning several regional and Latino championships, as well as the WBC Silver light middleweight title, Alvarez won the then-vacant WBC Light Middleweight Championship on March 5, 2011, defeating Matthew Hatton via unanimous decision. After five succesful title defenses, Alvarez defeated Austin Trout via unanimous decision to not only retain his title, but to also win the WBA (Unified) and The Ring‘s light middleweight titles.
In Alvarez’s next bout, in September 2013, he tasted defeat for the only time in his professional career thus far. Alvarez lost to the now-retired and undefeated Floyd Mayweather, losing his titles as well as the then-vacant lineal title.
Alvarez then fought two fights at a catchweight of 155 lbs., defeating Alfredo Angulo and Erislandy Lara. Alvarez then fully moved up to middleweight, and on November 21, 2015, he defeated Miguel Cotto to win the lineal, The Ring, and then-vacant WBC middleweight titles. He retained the titles in May 2016 against Amir Khan.
As mentioned earlier, Alvarez then vacated the WBC title and moved down to light middleweight once again, defeating Liam Walsh to win the WBO Light Middleweight Championship. After defeating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on May 6 by decision, the fight with GGG was announced, and Alvarez moved back up to middleweight and vacated the WBO Light Middleweight Title days later.
Both men have pure knockout power, and their punches can rock anybody. Both are capable of finishes and each provides a well-enough case that they can win. But only one can. Golovkin will be coming into this bout as the favorite, though there are plenty of people out there (including a couple I have talked to) who feel that Alvarez will be the one to finally end Golovkin’s undefeated run.
There are some who feel Golovkin is slowly starting to crumble; some who are hesitant to believe in GGG after his performance against Jacobs. Again, I believe some people just underrate Jacobs. But even then, if what Golovkin is saying is true in that he held back against Jacobs, then will it come back to haunt him?
But on the other end, it will be Alvarez’s first fight at middleweight in a couple of fights. His last two fights have been against the likes of Liam Smith and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. That’s not to knock those two, but is that well-enough preparation for someone like GGG?
In the end, don’t be surprised if this one goes the distance — it’s a distinct possibility. And Alvarez winning is a distinct possibility. But unless there are freak circumstances, don’t knock GGG if one of those two things happen. GGG, regardless, is one of the best boxers (not just middleweights) in history, let alone the world today.
That being said, however, I still feel Alvarez needs to prove himself a little, and GGG still has something he wants to live up to. I can see a late finish from the G-Man, on his journey to unify the middleweight division in boxing.
My prediction: GGG by 10th-round KO/TKO