The Middleweight division has always been one of the most significant in the sport, and historically has one been perhaps the second or third most important weight class in boxing, with only the Heavyweight clearly defining it's self as more significant. Over time we have seen icons make their name at the weight, such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon, Harry Greb, Roy Jones Jr and Bernard Hopkins. This weekend we get the chance to see the division again come to the fore as we get the division's biggest fight in years.
The bout in question will see WBC, WBA, IBF and IBO champion Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33) take on linear champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1, 24). The bout is essentially to crown a single king at 160lbs, it's also to decide who is the better man, and which of the two really is a pound-for-pound top fighter. It pits the biggest name in Mexican boxing against the biggest in Kazakhstan, and in fact it pits two of the sport's genuine global stars against each other, in a bout that has split fans around the world.
The bigger name going in to the bout is Canelo. The 27 year old Mexican was long ear marked as a potential star and made his debut at the prodigious age of 15 years old. His early career was a bit slow burner but in 2010 he made his US debut, and since then he has become a focal point of boxing not only in Mexico but also in the US.
Out of the ring Canelo is a big deal, a huge one in Mexico, and in the ring he has the ability to back it up. He's a compact boxer-puncher who has heavy hands, nice combinations and has been in with a real who's who of the sport. He holds wins over the likes of Miguel Vazquez, Carlos Manuel Baldomir, Kermit Cintron, Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, James Kirkland, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and his only loss is to Floyd Mayweather Jr, no shame there.
Although Canelo is one of the best boxer-punchers in the sport he is a flawed fighter, and one open to a lot of criticism. On paper his record looks amazing, but the reality is that he actually lacks many quality wins over prime opponents, with his stand win being a controversial one over Lara. Most of his wins, such as ones over Baldomir, Mosley, Kirkland and Cotto coming against men who were beyond their best. He can be made to look slow, his work rate isn't that high and although he has a reputation as being heavy handed, he's not a monstrous puncher, more a thudding one with every shot hurting. At 5'9” and with a 70.5” reach he is also a rather small Middleweight and although he's a thick fighter he's someone who will regularly be giving away size at Middleweight.
When it comes to Golovkin we have a fighter who splits a number of fans. His supporting will tell you about his long pursuit to get a big fight, and his inability to lure other top fighters in the ring during his pomp. At 35 years old he is probably past his best, hence why some feel Canelo took the fight, but he is coming in to this on the back of a huge win over Danny Jacobs. Having mentioned Jacobs it's worth noting the American was the latest in a long line of notable wins for Golovkin, who has beaten championship level fighters like Kassim Ouma, Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Matthew Macklin, Kell Brook, David Lemiuex, and the aforementioned Jacobs.
Blessed with naturally frightening power Golovkin has had a long amateur background, he uses those skills to control the ring really well, he measures distance and angles brilliantly and although he's an aggressive fighter he's one who uses a lot of intelligent pressure. He backs that pressure up with a really solid chin, that helps make up for some of his defensive flaws. For all his talent he does have chinks in his armour, notably his leaky defense, a lack of head movement, and given his age there may well be some natural slow down, along with wear and tear. Offensively he is brilliant but he can be reckless, and he often shows little respect to opponents.
In the ring it will be Golovkin's pressure against against the counter punching skills of Canelo. Canelo will look to use Golovkin's pressure against him, and make him pay for his defenses lapses. As for Golovkin he'll be looking to be more intelligent than usual, use his reach and not sit in the pocket too long. He'll be looking to use his jab and his foot work, like we saw against David Lemieux, and limit the openings for the Mexican.
We suspect that a close bout will go to Canelo, we think everyone would agree with that, so we can't imagine Golovkin sitting back with his jab too much. But we think that will be his key early on, using the jab to try and pick holes in Alvarez, probably to the body. If he can do that, and bring the hands down he will get the chances late on to take it out of the judges hands. If Canelo can hold his own early on, and not take too much punishment early on, there's a fantastic chance he'll go on to hear the final bell and take the decision. With Canelo's combinations he will impress the judges, his eye catching shots are always a joy to watch, but he'll understandably look to limit them, for fear of being forced to eat too many shots from Golovkin. We think Golovkin will chip apart at Canelo and force a late stoppage, but we wouldn't be massively surprised at a win for the Mexican.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.