This coming Saturday we'll see one of the biggest fights of 2018, as we get the long awaited rematch between Kazakh Middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin (38-0-1, 34) and Mexican boxing superstar Saul Alvarez (49-1-2, 34). The rematch comes a year after their highly controversial draw, which saw Golovkin retain the WBA “super”, WBC and IBF Middleweight titles whilst also continuing his unbeaten run. It also saw “Canelo” Alvarez face criticism for his style and for favourable judging, especially from Adalaide Byrd who had him winning 118-110.
This rematch was supposed to take place back in May, though was cancelled at short notice when Alvarez tested positive for Clenbuterol. Although the Mexican blamed food, specifically beef, for the positive test it does seem like he's not taken responsibility for his actions, something that has continued to anger the Golovkin team. On the flipside of that however is Golovkin's trainer Abel Sanchez making various accusations about Canelo, including mentioning a suspect wrapping technique.
Although the two men went into the first bout with a lot of respect for each other it does seem like this rematch will be fought will less respect and more emotion. Both men seem to have a genuine dislike of the other, their fan bases and their teams. There is still some mutual respect of the other's ability, but as people it's clear the two will be on each other's Christmas card list in December. Despite their animosity we're expecting to see both men put in a calculated performance as they look to improve on what they did last time out, and take home a victory here.
In their first bout the heavy handed Golovkin took centre ring, he backed up Canelo and seemed to be the clear aggressor. Not only that but he had the higher output, the better work rate and the more consistent offensive work. Sadly for Golovkin he failed to go to the body for the most part and looked to be on the end of the biggest single shots. By failing to go to the body he allowed thr younger, quicker, Canelo to get away, and perhaps if he had gone to the body he would have made the Mexican stay still a little more, and even opened him up for the heavier head shots that could have made the difference.
Those who have seen Golovkin over the last few years will know what to expect from him. He's a strong, powerful boxer-puncher. Technically he's solid with an impressive jab and under-rated footwork. Sadly he's now 36 and just losing that half a step he once had. His power is still impressive, as we saw in May against Vanes Martirosyan, but doesn't look as devastating as it once did and relative lack of speed is obvious in terms of both his footwork and his handspeed, as well as his defense.
Canelo, who was once a front foot fighter who applied pressure and used his physical traits in an imposing manner, has rounded out to be one of the sports better all-rounders. Again Golovkin he showed good movement, an ability to stick to a game plan and excellent counter punching. Sadly one of the issues that has always been a problem for Alvarez is his work rate. Whilst what he landed on Golovkin was quality his actual output was disappointing, and not for the first time it felt like he had ran out of steam to keep up any sort of sustained attack. He had moments but they were fleeting, short lived and tended to consist of a single shot or two.
With 52 bouts under his belt the 28 year old Mexican is a true veteran, with almost 13 years of professional experience behind him. There is a chance that he will age quickly, and he's been in tough bouts against the likes of Golovkin, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout and Floyd Mayweather, who all caught him clean. Saying that however he looked like their was still a lot of miles left on the clock last time out and a year out of the ring since then will certainly do him no harm, allowing him to rest and recover from any niggles he's had. If he's used the time since May wisely he may well be in the best shape of his career, for a bout he simply cannot afford to lose.
We're expecting this bout to be very similar to the first bout between these two. We think, again, that Golovkin will press forward, backing Canelo on the ropes. We also think Canelo will box well off the back foot. The key to winning however will be what changes the fighter makes. If Golovkin can go to the body he increases his chance, if Canelo can increase his output by 10% then he'll probably do enough to take the victory. It really is one where small changes will decide the outcome.
Of the two we think Golovkin will make the changes easier. He has a proven ability to go to the body, breaking down good fighters with body shots. We've never seen Canelo show a great work work rate, especially not against a fighter who can hit him back. We think Golovkin will make the alternation needed, and will do so in a way that the judges won't be able to deny him. We also think that there has been a general downward view on Canelo and where the judges may have favoured him based on fan reaction in the past, that won't be an issue, and the judges may well find themselves scoring the closer rounds to Golovkin, this time around.
It's fair to say the last few weeks have been both interesting and frustrating for those involved in the career of Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33). The Kazakh great saw a rematch with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez being cancelled after Alvarez pulled out, following a failed drugs test, and left Tom Loeffler scrambling around for a replacement, with only a few weeks to go. After several opponents were looked into the one who ended up taking the fight was Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21), who had been out of the ring for almost 2 years and had lost 2 of his previous 3. It was a less than great decision, but meant that Golovkin would stay active, having been out of the ring since last September.
At his best Golovkin was a Middleweight wrecking ball, combining skills, power and toughness. He was an aggressive but calculated pressure fighter who had a desire to prove he was the best and to unify the Middleweight division. In recent bouts however the Kazakh has began to look his age, and whilst still a top fighter he's not looked as much of a destructive force as he once was. Part of that is to do with his competition, which has picked up in quality, but part of it is also to do with his age which is starting to catch up with him.
Golovkin was a former amateur star before turning professional in 2006. He would claim the WBA “interim” title in 2010 and has grown from there, becoming a staple of the US boxing scene since beating Grzegorz Proksa in 2012. Although he does lack in terms of career defining wins he has pretty much cleaned out the division of contenders ever since, beating the likes of Gabriel Rosado, Matthew Macklin, Curtis Stevens, Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Martin Murray, David Lemieux and Daniel Jacobs. The one blotch on his record was a very controversial draw that lead many to question what Adalaide Byrd had been watching during the fight. Sadly the draw cost Golovkin a career defining win, and lead to the mess of the rematch, the rematch that would be cancelled due to Canelo's positive drug test.
Again at his very best Golovkin has everything but speed, though used good IQ, timing and footwork to hide that flaw. He would bring the pressure, and break people down. In his last 2 bouts he has been taken the distance, and in his bout before that, against Kell Brook, he looked slow and a little bit clumsy. We need to go back over 2 years for the last really impressive performance from Golovkin, his win over Lemieux, and it's worth questioning what he really has left at the top level. He's still a good fighter, but the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, Canelo, Ryota Murata and Sergiy Derevyanchenko all seem to be eyeing up the Kazakh, something that wasn't happening a couple of years ago.
Martirosyan was a solid amateur himself, representing the US at the 2004 Olympics before making his professional debut the following year. Despite his amateur pedigree he was matched softly, and moved very slowly through the professional ranks, despite looking like someone who would have loved to have been tested early on. The kid gloves in terms of his development was because of his age, he was only 18 when he turned professional, but the progress of his career really was frustratingly slow. His first real tests coming in 2008, when he was matched with the likes of Michi Munoz, Angel Hernandez and Michael Medina. Sadly rather than move onwards and upwards from those wins he was kept at that sort of level until 2010, when he took on former world champion Kassim Ouma. Ouma, who would also give Golovkin fits, was very unlucky not to defeat Martirosyan in a bout that could easily have gone his way.
In many ways Martirosyan's struggle with Ouma showed a lot, and perhaps explained why his team had been so protective of him. Despite the struggle he did continue on with his career, winning a WBC eliminator in 2011 before fighting to a technical draw in a final eliminator in 2012. By then Martirosyan had been a professional for 7 years and his career, which had promised a lot, had really failed to deliver. He would finally get a world title fight a year later, losing a split decision to Demetrius Andrade. Losses in 2 of his subsequent 5 fights, to Jermell Charlo and a rematch to Lara really act as set backs to Martirosyan's dreams and he's not fought since the loss to Lara in May 2016.
Although a solid boxer, with decent power, decent movement and decent skills Martirosyan hasn't proven those traits at Middleweight, having fought much of his career at Light Middleweight, he has been inactive, as mentioned, and has been down a number of times during his career. Going up against a strong, powerful Middleweight like Golovkin won't bode well for the challenger. Martirosyan might have the speed to be competitive early on, but we can't help but think that Golovkin's power will be too much, and he'll stop the challenger in the middle rounds to retain the WBA “super”, WBO and IBO Middleweight titles.
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.
It's been a good year for boxing fans so far, with a lot of excitement, a host of upsets, some great match ups still being announced and fight fans generally seeming a lot more up beat about the sport than they were this time last year. That's not to say the sport's perfect but it's just that things seem much better than they have been in recent times, with the focus of numerous fighters being unification and legacy, rather than bank balance and avoidance.
This coming Saturday we get a bout that is essentially all about legacy and proving who the best fighter in the Middleweight division really is. In one corner we have the WBC, IBF, IBO and WBA “Super” champion Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33) whilst in the other corner we have once beaten WBA “regular” champion Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29). Essentially we have the two best Middleweights facing off, two of the biggest punchers in the sport and two men who each have the belief of being the best.
Of the two men it's fair to say that the unbeaten Golovkin is the more proven fighter. He was a stand out amateur before turning professional in 2006 and has held a WBA “world” title, of some status, since 2010. In fact since first winning the WBA “interim” title Golovkin has ripped through many of the top fighters in the division whilst going 17-0 (17) in title defenses. Whilst some of those defences were of the interim title, and some were against limited foes, he has take out the likes of Kassim Ouma, the then touted Grzegorz Proksa, the highly regarded Matthew Macklin, former champion Daniel Geale, top contenders like Marco Antonio Rubio, Martin Murray, the then IBF champion David Lemieux and the then unbeaten Welterweight champion Kell Brook.
Blessed with naturally heavy hands and impressively solid chin Golovkin has added boxing skills and a high ring IQ to his natural gifts. Unlike many punchers he doesn't usually come out of the blocks looking for the KO but knows it will come with his boxing,and the fact that every shot he throws seems to be a damaging one. It's his learned traits, including his amazing balance and control of distance, which has made him one of the sports top fighters, and there is little a fighter can do to avoid the extreme pressure that the Kazakh brings to the ring.
Although a brilliantly talented fighter, who can box or bang, Golovkin does have a few flaws. He's not the quickest fighter on the planet, with either his hands or feet, he can be made to look a bit stationary at times and his defense is certainly not the tightest. Whilst he has the chin to hold up to shots, and the timing to neutralise quicker man, there are flaws that are being shown for fighters to look into exploiting in the future. Exploiting them may not be the most difficult thing in the world to do, but doing so for 12 rounds looks to be one of the toughest tasks in the sport today.
Although less proven than the Kazakh it's hard to not respect Jacobs, who has over-come cancer and scored notable wins against the likes of Ishe Smith, Sergio Mora and Peter Quillin. Like Golovkin it's fair to say that Jacob's is a powerful puncher, though it a much more “explosive puncher” than the heavy handed Kazakh. With Jacobs the punches are fast, the combinations are throw with intent and the American is certainly an impressive offensive fighter. Like Golovkin however his defensive issues are the major problem, and unlike Golovkin the American doesn't have a granite chin. He has been hurt a number of times during his career, suffering a 5th round TKO loss to Dmitry Pirog in 2010 and being dropped by Sergio Mora in 2015.
The 30 year old American has been around the pro scene for close to a decade, and was a decorated amateur himself before turning professional. Once tipped as one of the brightest young talents in the sport Jacobs has failed to live up to the expectations many had of him in the ring, though he has also proven doctors wrong by having such a great career after beating cancer.
Whilst Jacobs does have a chance, anyone with the power and speed he has has a chance, that chance is a slim one. His questionable punch resistance, his lack of defensive skills and the fact he leaves himself open is a curse here against a more rounded fighter than Golovkin. We think Jacobs will have his moments, every fighter seems to have some moments against Golovkin, but with the Kazakh taking this bout seriously those moments will be limited and Golovkin's jab will be the early controlling shot. As the bout wears on, and as Jacobs slows himself he'll begin to taste the meatier shots of Golovkin's before being stopped in the middle to late rounds.
It's fair to say that this coming Saturday is a huge day for boxing fans, with so many massive fights. For many the most exciting fights are in the US, with Carlos Cuadras Vs Roman Gonzalez and the Yoshihiro Kamegai Vs Jesus Soto Karass bouts both expected to be brilliant fights. For others however the most significant bout takes place at Middleweight in the UK and sees Kazakh star Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32) defending his WBC, IBF and IBO Middleweight titles against unbeaten Brit Kell Brook (36-0, 25), himself a world champion albeit the IBF champion at Welterweight. The bout, on Sky Box Office in the UK, is seen as the highest profile bout for Golovkin, who has long been avoided by top names at Middleweight, and is seen as a potential opportunity for Brook to become a real international star.
Golovkin first made his name in the amateurs, where he ran up an impressive resume winning various international competitions and beating numerous fighters who would later leave their mark on the professional scene. As a professional his career was a relative slow burn for his first 18 bouts, all in Europe. He claimed the WBA Interim Middleweight title in 2010 and since then he has become one of boxing's break out stars racking up world title defenses for fun and unifying the WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO titles in a career that has seen him become a star in America.
In the build up to a Golokin bout the typical thing to mention is his power. With a 91% stoppage rate the power is intimidating and it has seen him stop his last 22 opponents, including fighters like Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Martin Murray and David Lemieux. The power however is only part of the story with Golovkin's real strength actually being his skills. Those skills allow him to cut the ring down, get in to the range to land those powerful shots and break opponents down. He does have 1-punch KO power, as Nobuhiro Ishida and Lujan Simon found out, but the key to his power is that every single shot hurts, and eventually they break opponents down.
Unlike many power punchers Golovkin doesn't depend primarily on his power but instead uses his power as one of many weapons along with his timing, foot work, intelligent pressure and shot selection, including his now well known under-cut or sledgehammer shot. There are holes in his game defensively, and one wonders how he'd cope with someone crowding him and smothering him, but those holes are very hard to exploit.
For Brook the bout sees him making his Middleweight debut. He is well known for his career at Welterweight, where he has beaten the likes of Shawn Porter, Matthew Hatton, Vyacheslav Senchenko and Carson Jones, twice. Although highly skilled Brook's career has been an incredibly frustrating one with the last few years spent defending the IBF Welterweight title against very poor opponents, like Jo Jo Dan, Frankie Gavin and Kevin Bizier, who lasted a combined 12 rounds. Given the depth at Welterweight Brook had the chance to make himself an international star but has really wasted that chance with various problems.
In the ring Brook is a fantastic boxer-puncher. He shut down Porter with a disruptive game plan, destroyed Gavin, Dan and Brook with his power and gritted out a decision over Jones in the first bout. Not only is he a great boxer-puncher but he's also a massive Welterweight, and is probably a natural Light Middleweight. That however leaves us wondering how he will be at Middleweight, and we have seen him hurt by shots at Welterweight, with Senchenko wobbling him and Jones almost stopping him late in their first bout.
Tactically Brook has to be spot on to survive here. He has to neutralise not just the natural power and strength of Golovkin but also his pressure. That might mean that Brook has to, essentially, hit and run and run and run. Or it might mean that Brook, who has beefed up for the fight, has to get in and smother Golovkin, rather than let the Kazakh have full extension on his shots.
We suspect Brook will be confident coming in to this one and will feel he has done every thing he can to prepare for the bout with a solid gameplan. That plan however will likely go out of the window when he feels the power of the Kazakh and in the middle rounds that power will be too much, eventually stopping the challenger who will have taken some serious punishment before wilting.
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.