Tomorrow night’s middleweight super fight will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV for a rematch a year in the making when Saul “Canelo” Alvarez squares off with Gennady Golovkin. Originally scheduled for Cinco De Mayo, the second meeting of the popular fighters will now take place on Mexican Independence Day.
Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez is arguably the most popular fighter in the sport today, but a pair of positive steroid tests and a six month suspension that delayed this rematch has cast some doubt on his standing among boxing fans. Despite the diehard dedication from the Latino fan base, he has something to prove ahead of this contest. Golovkin, a power puncher with a Hispanic-inspired style from trainer Abel Sanchez, is actually a slight favorite to win this weekend in Las Vegas.
Clearly, Alvarez, a protegé of the legendary Oscar De La Hoya, must show the boxing world that his success in the ring was legitimate, not the result of enhancement substances. The 28-year-old might define his legacy with this performance.
Canelo claimed that the previously mentioned failed tests and suspension resulted from tainted meat, a common occurrence for athletes that train in Mexico and China. On the surface, it makes sense, but Alvarez looked noticeable smaller at today’s weigh-in than he did for the original contest against Triple G.
The Mexican legacy in boxing built by names like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Julio Cesar Chavez was admired by the Hispanic fans because of the iron will they displayed. Passion and heart, not PEDs defines the Hispanic boxing culture. Canelo could sour much of his fan base if he doesn’t appear to be competitive against Golovkin, which would create questions about totality of his success as a pro.
Aside from the perception of Alvarez, there will undoubtedly be speculation about the judges if the bout goes to the scorecards. As was witnessed last year, the original Triple G/Canelo fight went to a controversial draw after Adalaide Bryd scored only two rounds for Golovkin, a notion that only reiterated the corruption that plagued boxing for decades. As I wrote at the time, Adalaide Bryd should never judge a fight of any importance ever again.
Assuming twilight zone judging can be avoided, this should be another top-notch, hard-hitting prize fight. Based on the initial contest, how Alvarez handles the pressure from Triple G seems to be the key. On paper, Canelo has the skills to win, countering the aggressive opponent, but if he can generate offense through the pressure remains to be seen. The iron-chinned Golovkin will take a punch to land one and was able to throw Alvarez off his usual game plan. Regardless of the corrupt score, the original fight was razor-close and the rematch will probably yield another evenly-matched bout.
As mentioned, Alvarez denied the PED use, but even if it’s legitimate, he does go into the rematch noticeably smaller than he was a year ago so will that affect his ability to withstand the offense of his opponent?
It’s a tough call and that’s what makes the fight so intriguing to fans. Again, stylistically, Canelo should be able to carefully counter punch the overly aggressive Golovkin, but that didn’t happen in their first meeting. Instead, the younger fighter was pushed to his limit and didn’t keep up with the offense of Triple G for at least half of the contest.
During the weigh-ins earlier today, Alvarez seemed agitated during the face-off, is that an indication that the pressure might get to him?
At 36, Gennady Golovkin is almost certainly at the latter stages of his professional career and is still regarded as one of, if not the most dangerous puncher in the sport. With a record of 38-0-1, the native of Kazakhstan opted to stay busy after the Canelo fight in May was cancelled, knocking out Vanes Martirosyan on Cinco De Mayo instead in just two rounds. Different from Canelo, Triple G didn’t receive notoriety from the American audience until later in his career, but he can definitely cement his legacy if he’s victorious against one of the most popular stars of the past several years.
It can’t be understated how important this bout is to the career of Canelo, as a win validates his status, while a loss could further question it after the failed PED tests. After 49 wins and only one blemish on his record, a loss to Floyd Mayweather in 2013, Alvarez could etch his name into the history books among the Mexican legends previously mentioned before he hangs up his gloves. On the flip side, a defeat could impact the narrative of Alvarez as an athlete that needed PEDs to be successful.
As mentioned, to pick a winner, especially after how close the initial fight was, is really a toss up. However, I will pick Gennady Golovkin to get the win, mostly because Canelo Alvarez didn’t seem focused at the weigh-ins. I’d guess that Triple G will land punches early that throw Alvarez off his game plan and will impact the later rounds of the fight. More than anything, let’s hope that corrupt judges aren’t a factor in the rematch.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
E mail firstname.lastname@example.org | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta
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