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
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Wilder v Fury II: Can ‘heart and determination’ conquer raw power?
It’s long been one of the great debates in sport – the relationship between technical aptitude and self-belief. Are the greatest sportspeople blessed with an inherent talent that guarantees success, or is it the determination and will-to-win that drives them that extra mile? Can sheer resolve and strength of character get the better of mechanical, tried-and-tested excellence?
This is one of the main topics of conversation ahead of the highly-anticipated rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. The English fighter is the slight favourite in the latest Wilder vs Fury odds, and has been vocal recently in saying that his self-will has the power to overcome an opponent whose record of 42 wins and 41 knockouts is frightening.
“Statistics don’t lie, he is a much bigger puncher than me, a one-punch knockout artist,” Fury said. “The thing is, I don’t believe anybody can match my heart and determination. I will put my iron will on Deontay Wilder and we will see.”
While even the most uninformed boxing fan recognises Wilder’s superior punching power over Fury, it seemed strange for the Gypsy King, normally so brash and headstrong, to make such a concession – that his opponent is a better puncher. But this is the new Fury – the considered, mature Fury, if such a thing exists. There have been no Batman costumes or karaoke performances in his news conferences ahead of this fight, instead it has been all business with the repeated assertion that he will knock Wilder out in round two.
Perhaps Wilder’s victory over Luis Ortíz in December will have given Fury more cause for concern than he may have felt initially. While the Cuban dominated Wilder for most of the fight, the WBC heavyweight champion showed exactly why he boasts such a formidable record. After almost seven rounds of tough boxing from Ortíz, one swift right hand from the knockout king left the Cuban sprawled on the canvas. For Fury, his intention will be to dominate proceedings, to use his footwork to get Wilder moving and losing energy. But that threat of a sudden light-extinguishing blow means the Gypsy King will have no margin for losing focus.
Wilder vs Fury is the ultimate showcase of technical excellence against spirited mentality. Wilder has honed a gift for punching, the like of which boxing has never seen. There is no answer to the irresistible brutality of Wilder’s swing and hit – a crunching cannonball of a right hand that shatters all before it.
Fury’s hope lies in his belief in his personal journey rather than the physical prowess he embodies. He believes that defeating Wilder is the inevitable next step on his voyage from the depths of depression and self-loathing to a glorious return to boxing’s title-winners. The determination that has driven his recovery continues to give him the belief that he will beat every opponent before him, and Wilder is simply the next man in the way.
On its own you would say that such determination would not be enough against an opponent of Wilder’s class, but such a conclusion would be ignoring the exemplary technical qualities Fury himself possesses. He is as nimble a heavyweight boxer as any in history, light on his feet, able to switch between stances at the drop of the hat, and while his punching power might not be on the same level as Wilder, it has been enough to land him 20 career knockouts.
On February 22nd we will find out if Wilder is simply a step too far for Fury’s remarkable recovery to his former champion status. Will raw power overcome the singular focus and graft that have defined the Englishman’s return to contention? For those who have risen as Fury has, it takes a lot to knock them down again.
Andrade Coasts, Paul Shines, and Titles change hands in Miami
DAZN hosted a rare Thursday Night card in a makeshift arena at the Gardens in Miami Beach, as the gang at Matchroom Sports hoped to capitalize on thousands of people coming into town for this Sunday’s Super Bowl LIV between the Chiefs and the 49ers.
Most of the hype surrounded the “battle” between YouTubers Jake Paul of the United States and England’s AnEsonGib, and it turned out to be a showcase for the bigger and longer Paul, who painted Gib with repeated left jabs which set up the big right hands that dropped Gib three times in the first round and led referee Chris Young to stop the fight just 2:18 into the first round. It was the pro debut for both rivals, and whatever you want to say about it, the Sugar Shane Mosely trained Paul looked good.
The “main event” saw Demetrious Andrade drop Irishman Luke Keeler twice in the first two rounds and then coast for six rounds before finally stepping on the gas and blasting Keeler with repeated big shots in the ninth, forcing veteran referee Telis Assimenios to stop the fight at 2:59 of Round 9. It was Andrade’s third defense of his title and just another blowout of a fighter that it was below his talent level. It should have lasted three rounds. Instead, the game Irishman hit Andrade quite a bit and allowed to survive till the late rounds. Andrade called out the almost equally frustrating Billie Joe Saunders, the WBO 168 titleholder. They deserve each other.
But before the fluff at the end, boxing fans were treated two quality title fights. The main card of the show opened with an excellent technical battle that saw 2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist Murodjon Akhmadaliev lift the WBA/IBF junior featherweight (122 pounds) from reigning champion Danny Roman by twelve round split decision in just his eighth professional fight.
The fight was very close from round one, as Akhmadaliev came out swinging with big left hands from the southpaw positions. The super technical Roman (27-3-1,10 KOs), fighting out of Los Angeles, attacked the body from Round One and looked to time the young Uzbek with good counter punches. The early rounds were good for Roman, who was more accurate and faster with his punches. Akhmadaliev came back in rounds five and six, only for Roman to crank up his pace in rounds seven and eight.
Many thought the late rounds would belong to the more experienced pro Roman, but Akhmadaliev (8-0, 7 KOs) turned that theory on his head, digging down in the late rounds, continuing throwing hard lefts to the head and body. Throughout the fight, the Uzbek commonly referred to as MJ closed rounds strong, and this was especially in the case in these late rounds. Roman did his best to come back with a strong Round 12 and both men let their hands go in the last twenty-seconds, landing some of their best punches of the fight.
In the end, one judge had it 115-113 for Roman, but the other two had it 115-113 for Akhmadaliev, giving the Uzbek the title in a fight that could have gone either way. Fightbooth actually had it a draw, 114-114. With so many close rounds, a rematch makes sense for both, especially in California, where both men are based. Much was made of how Danny Roman did not have to take this fight against such a ballyhooed prospect, but chose to be a great champion. The result was an excellent fight and a rivalry that we can hope is not over.
The second main card bout saw Joseph Diaz Jr, a 2012 Olympian from the United States, notch a dominant performance to lift the IBF junior lightweight (130 pound) title from Philadelphia’s Tevin Farmer in the culmination of a bitter rivalry between the two men that goes back to last May, when the two had a confrontation at the Canelo Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs fight in Las Vegas.
Diaz was aggressive from Round One, pushing Farmer on the inside and unloading with loads of punches. The second round saw the fighters clash heads, leaving Diaz with a GNARLY cut over his left eyelid, which look to put the fight in jeopardy. Yet Diaz stuck to his task, staying on Farmer and being the busier and more accurate fighter.
Farmer is normally one of the most defensively elusive fighters you will ever see, but in this fight, he chose to languish on the inside, allowing Diaz to have his way on the inside and hit him pretty much as he choose. Farmer claimed to hurt his right hand in the first round, and many believe the same clash of heads that opened the big cut on Diaz’ eye compromised Farmer. The announce team, especially Sergio Mora, made all the excuses for Farmer, but whatever the reason, Farmer fought the wrong fight against Diaz.
Diaz built a big lead with his accurate flurries of punches and somehow, his cut-man managed to keep that eye closed. Farmer may have stolen some late rounds but at the end of the result was clear. The scorecards were 117-111 and 115-113, twice, all of Joseph Diaz Jr. Those last two were wayyy too close.
The win is the culmination of a long journey for Diaz (31-1, 15 KOs), who has been built throughout his career by Golden Boy Promotions for this moment. He was thoroughly outclassed in his first title fight two years ago by Gary Russell Jr and couldn’t make weight for his second title opportunity a few months later. But after a mental health break and some changes, Diaz is finally a world champion. It was a sad end of a title reign for Farmer (30-5-1, 6 KOs), who defended his belt four times in fourteen months and saw an eight year unbeaten streak come to an end.
Rosario shocks Williams, Seizes titles in Philly
On a night where the UFC and Conor McGregor took center stage in the combat sports world, Jeison Rosario pulled off an absolute shocker in Philadelphia.
The twenty-four-year-old junior middleweight from the Dominican Republican was seen as a pretty good prospect turned fringe contender and was on a modest six fight winning streak against fairly good opposition. But he was supposed to be simply an opponent for WBA/IBF junior middleweight champion Julian “J-Rock” Williams, who seized the titles from previously undefeated champ Jarrett Hurd last year and was making his first title defense in his hometown of Philadelphia. Williams supposed to beat Rosario and move onto a big fight later this year, either a rematch against Hurd or a unification fight with WBC 154 pound champ Jermell Charlo.
But Rosario upset that apple card last night at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, knocking out Williams in the fifth round of their title fight on a Premier Boxing Champions show broadcasted on big Fox. The +800 underdog, who looked considerably bigger than the reigning champion, showed himself to be an excellent puncher, throwing to both the head and body, and turned one of boxing’s deepest divisions on its head.
Williams came out strong in the first, boxing behind his jab and looking to land his trademark right hand. Rosario responded by upping the pressure in the second and started to get to Williams body. Then with twenty-five seconds left in the round, Rosario changed the fight with a right hand that stopped Williams in his tracks, and seconds later, the champion pawed his eye, revealing the blood that the punch had drawn, and Rosario jumped on him, landing several combinations before the bell.
The Philadelphia fighter did his best to right the ship in the third round, including landing several crunching right hands in the last minute, but Rosario was making it his fight in the fourth round, forcing power punching exchanges and taking away Williams’ excellent jab. Even though Williams was landing slightly more punches, it was clear Rosario had seized the tone of the fight.
The Dominican seized much more in the fifth as a minute into the round, he hurt Williams with a series of monster left hooks. Williams backed into the ropes and Rosario unleashed a two fisted attack that had Williams holding for dear life and seemingly looking for a double leg, sending him slipping to the canvas. Williams rose from his feet, and Rosario was right on him, and a killer right uppercut followed by a big left hook led referee Benji Estevez to stop the fight at 1:37 of Round 5.
The Philly crowd responded with anger, throwing trash into the ring and a riot seemed to be brewing for a moment before order was restored. Philly may be the town of upsets, but they do not like to see their guys lose.
Williams stated after the fight that he had a rematch clause and given how exciting this fight was there is no reason not to have it. As for Rosario, who moved to 20-1-1 and scored his fourteenth knockout, he is now The Man in one of boxing’s better divisions right now, and with size and power, he is a real forced to be reckoned with.
Philadelphia be damned.
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