LAS VEGAS — Canelo Alvarez trailed badly on the scorecards after nine rounds of his middleweight title bout on Sept. 16, 2017, against Gennadiy Golovkin. He needed to do something dramatic to have a chance, and he did.
Alvarez pulled out the final three rounds and wound up getting a majority draw.
A year later, it was the reverse. Alvarez led 87-84 on the cards after nine rounds. Golovkin swept 10, 11 and 12 on Glenn Feldman’s card and won 10 and 11 on the cards of Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld, but Alvarez hung on to win a majority decision.
On Saturday, four years after the rematch, the men will meet again with the undisputed super middleweight title at stake in their bout on DAZN PPV at T-Mobile Arena.
The stakes are enormous: Golovkin has largely been overlooked since that rematch and his opposition has been far inferior than Alvarez’s. Since 2018, Alvarez fought Rocky Fielding, Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev, Callum Smith, Avni Yildirim, Billy Joe Saunders, Caleb Plant and Dmitriy Bivol.
Since last he fought Alvarez, Golovkin faced Steve Rolls, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Kamil Szeremeta and Ryota Murata.
Alvarez ascended to No. 1 on most pound-for-pound lists after defeating Plant to become undisputed super middleweight champion, though he dropped down a bit after losing to Bivol in May.
Alvarez has won a belt at light heavyweight and all of the belts at 168, and believes taking the challenges he’s taken counts for something.
“I think I’m the best fighter in the world because nobody does what I do in boxing,” he said. “Nobody takes the risks like me, and I don’t need to take risks. I love challenges and I feel I’m still the best.”
Golovkin is 40 and though he looks no different than he did when he was 30, it’s the biggest reason why he’s such a huge underdog. Alvarez is a -450 favorite at BetMGM, though bookmakers across the city say there hasn’t been a lot of action wagered to this point. Golovkin is +340.
Highly regarded trainer Stephen “Breadman” Edwards says Golovkin’s age is a concern even if he’s in great condition.
“A clean fighter at 40 is still a 40-year-old fighter,” said Edwards, who is in Las Vegas training Plant. “I don’t know if Triple-G’s style ages well and in my view, in order for him to win he has to sort of out-hustle Canelo. I don’t know that he has that kind of gas tank now.
“I watch him fight and he’s always laboring in his breathing. I just don’t believe he can outbox Canelo. … It’s a good thing that Triple-G won’t have to shave off the extra eight pounds and he should feel fresher. That said, I think Canelo’s at a better place in his career.”
Neither man has ever been knocked down in his career, though Alvarez is insisting he’s going in to stop Golovkin on Saturday. Alvarez is annoyed by what he feels is trash talk by Golovkin and has called him a phony.
Edwards said that coming off a loss is a new experience for Alvarez. His only other defeat came in 2013 when as a young fighter he was schooled by Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Edwards said it’s something to watch.
“People just take for granted that Canelo’s just going to get over this loss,” Edwards said. “He did lose. He did get his butt kicked. And look, Canelo has over 60 fights, he wears a knee brace and sometimes, you get little cracks in the ice before it breaks all apart. Canelo could be slipping also. He has a lot of career fights. He’s fought a lot of tough guys. He’s been around a long time.
“That’s something to look out for, though I think Bivol just had his ticket on that particular night.”
Golovkin at one point was a vicious body puncher, but he doesn’t go to the body as much any more. Edwards said that Alvarez counters when opponents go to the body and so it’s risky for his opposition to take him that way. But given that Alvarez has such a great chin and such a speed advantage, it’s going to be the one way that Golovkin can slow Alvarez.
Alvarez has become a magnificent boxer-puncher and he had Golovkin backing up for a lot of the second half of the rematch.
Trainer Johnathon Banks said he wants Golovkin to throw more punches than he did in the first two fights. It’s going to be tricky to do so, but it will also enhance his chance at victory.
“I think G’s game plan ought to be to step right to him, get into his face and be willing to go as hard as he can for as long as he can,” Edwards said. “He needs to hit him wherever he can. Head, hips, arms, body and just throw. But if you saw those other fights, Golovkin threw a lot of jabs because he can’t mount a big offense on Canelo because of Canelo’s ability to counter.”
If Alvarez keeps Golovkin going back like he did in 2018, he’s on the way to victory.
This seems like an Alvarez fight. He’s got age on his side, has the faster hands and has multiple ways to attack. My sense is he wins another taut battle.
That said, it makes little sense to bet on Alvarez. As his Mexican and Mexican American fans hit town, they’ll bet on him and probably shove the odds above 5-1.
At BetMGM now, Golovkin is +700 to win by decision. It’s a lot easier to bet $100 on a guy who nearly won the first two bouts and hope to get a $700 payday as opposed to laying $500, or more, to win $100.
I think Alvarez takes it by decision, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, as the first two fights proved, that Golovkin takes it. So my official betting prediction is Golovkin by decision at +700. If Alvarez ever drops under 3-1, which is unlikely, I’d bet him to win. But without that happening, the value play is Golovkin by decision.