Have you ever heard the parable of the old man, the young boy and the donkey?
The trio travel from town-to-town, sharing time aloft the donkey and time on foot. Their long, arduous journey continues to split opinion with the residents of each town. Some believed the old man was deserving of his place on the donkey, he had earned it through his hard work and standing within his own community. Others preferred seeing the young boy resting, rewarded for his promise and potential, protected from fatigue.
The parallels between this old story and the initial bout between Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KO’s) and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KO’s) are evident. You can’t please all of the people, all of the time. Some fans were adamant that Golovkin had won the fight comfortably, continually pushing the pace. Others were yelling from their casas, hailing Canelo’s precise counter-punching on the back-foot. It was ruled a split-draw.
It had been highly-anticipated and was billed as ‘the fight of the decade’. Golovkin had been largely untested throughout his middleweight reign, whilst Canelo had climbed the divisions, leaving a mixture of devastating finishes and immaculate boxing – suffering his only blemish to Floyd Mayweather.
The fight was intriguing, with the Kazakh the aggressor throughout, though not landing the concussive blows many had assumed. Canelo bamboozled him at times, slipping and sliding, infamously cracking Golovkin with a thunderous overhand right which the champion simply shrugged off.
The conclusion of the contest, more specifically the grand reveal of judge Adelaide Byrd’s card, had ruined what should have been a celebratory night for the sport. She scored the fight 118-110 for the younger man, stunning fans worldwide at first glance. Golovkin was hoisted upon the shoulders of his team as the uncrowned King with the fans seemingly in agreement.
“I thought I won the fight,” Canelo told the post-fight press row.
“I think I was superior inside the ring. I won at least seven or eight rounds. I was able to counterpunch, and even make Gennady wobble a couple times. It’s up to the people if we fight again. I feel frustrated over this draw.”
Golovkin, on the other hand, seemed more at ease with the draw, claiming, “This was a real fight. Look, I still have all the belts. I’m still the champion.”
Whether intentional or not, the contest had sparked debate over a potential changing of the guard at 160lbs. It seemed impossible to look past a return-bout – until Mexican meat farmers everywhere were lambasted for their tainted produce. Yet, here we are… The juicy second helping merely days away.
September 15th. Las Vegas. Día de la Independencia.
The calm, reserved, professional Gennady Golovkin is gone. Since Canelo failed his drug test for minor traces of clenbuterol, the ‘GGG’ camp have been relentless in their campaign for justice. The undefeated champion claimed that Canelo had shown his ‘true face’ and also referred to the situation as ‘truly outrageous’.
Whilst there are some clear physical differences in the Guadalajara man’s physique, those could be a result of alternative stylistic preparation. Slimmer and with less muscle-mass, it appears Canelo is focusing on the notable speed advantage that seen him landing those flurries on the retreat.
Golovkin has appeared rattled in the last two months, seeming more-and-more frustrated at the adoration his Mexican nemesis has received from governing bodies and fans alike.
“Was I upset that Canelo failed two drug tests? Yes.” said Golovkin.
“But I was more upset at Canelo’s team. The excuses they gave, their attitude, and Canelo’s reaction, it showed that they have no respect for the sport or the fans.”, he raved. Could his emotional investment in the fight cause him to break team?
The purveyor of the ‘Big Drama Show’ is now thirty-six-years-old. After flicking through the BoxRec rankings, only Anthony Mundine (#18) is older within their middleweight top-twenty. It has been suggested that September 15th could be a bridge too far for the ageing force from eastern Europe. His bout with Danny Jacobs showed a notable slowing of his pace, although on that occasion was enough to clinch victory on the judge’s scorecards.
With every heavy-footed advance, Golovkin ages. Canelo Alvarez is in his athletic prime, having already boxed over fifty bouts since turning professional aged only fifteen!
Their initial meeting seemed to indicate the sharper boxing was from the Cinnamon-topped megastar. Another year has elapsed, with ‘GGG’ edging closer to forty whilst Saul calmly slides below thirty. Could this be the time to topple the unified champion?
During press week, Canelo boasted, “Golovkin knows who I am. He knows what I’m about. Let me put it even better – he still doesn’t know how much more I have left to show. I’m looking forward to showing him that on September 15. I have to win convincingly. It has to be a knockout to erase any doubts.”
His opposing number hit back, setting out his stall with only days to go until the first bell.
“I am happy to get at Canelo again.”
“It is another big chance to beat him again. Of course I want to knock out Canelo. It would be nice if Canelo came to fight this time. I don’t believe what he says about how he will fight me this time. He said the same thing before our first fight. I will definitely be more aggressive in this fight.”
The fight is poised, tantalisingly in the balance. Whilst the general public may not have scrambled to join the hype train this time around, the boxing public are intrigued. Can Golovkin dig out his most impressive performance to date and eradicate the threat of a sole defeat? Could Canelo embark on a championship reign at his highest weight-class, after dethroning the division’s most feared fighter?
On Saturday night, worlds will collide. Central America challenges eastern Europe. Sin City shall come alive once again, dancing to the rhythmic sound of leather meeting skin. There can only be one.
Article by: Craig Scott
Follow Craig on Twitter at: @craigscott209