Boxing fans know not to get their hopes up—especially regarding the creation of a looming super-fight—but the concept of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez facing off against Gennady Golovkin is so tangible and tantalizing that it’s hard not to salivate over the potential for this matchup.
While Canelo holds what can loosely be considered the lineal Middleweight Championship of the World after beating Miguel Cotto at a contracted catch weight of 155 pounds, many fans and analysts consider Golovkin to be the real top man in the 160-pound division.
Golovkin has been vying for a shot at the lineal title since Kelly Pavlik held the throne at Middleweight in 2009. Now it seems as though his wish will come true as both the Canelo and Golovkin camps are interested in putting together a pay-per-view event that will most certainly be marketed as “Mexican Style.”
And why not? Since moving to California, Golovkin has completely embraced Mexican fight fans, and they have embraced him and his ethnic warrior’s gimmick, going so far as to chant “You are one of us” at his fights. Given how close the Mexican people are with boxing and how revered its warriors are, this could be seen as a reputational threat to Canelo.
If Canelo backs out of negotiations with Golovkin, he could lose the favor of his homeland—if he loses the fight, Golovkin could become the biggest pay-per-view attraction in boxing, subjugating the spot that Canelo only recently cemented after securing 900,000 pay-per-view buys for his fight against Miguel Cotto. His only choice is to fight.
Furthermore, Canelo, like most young Mexican boxers, idolizes the father of all modern Mexican fighters: Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. So when Golovkin, a Kazakh, is the most popular purveyor to Chavez’s “Mexican Style” and posts numerous Instagrams with the Mexican fighting legend at WBC (a sanctioning body based in Mexico) conferences, it’s probably a major blow to Canelo’s ego and national pride.
In the curious case of the middleweight division, its top two warriors will essentially be stepping into the ring while Emperor Chavez looks on, both gladiators hoping to impress and lay claim to the title as the True Son of Mexico.
Shakespearean subtext aside, Canelo and Golovkin’s mesh of styles makes for a potential shootout. Boxing fans might be sick of hearing about fights that will be wars akin to Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns and not getting them. Golovkin’s fight against David Lemieux last October was marketed as such and instead Golovkin broke him down from a distance before referee Steve Willis had to put a halt to the beating. Oscar De La Hoya told the boxing media that there would be a war when Canelo met Cotto just a month after Golovkin’s calculated demolition of Lemieux, and the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico showdown resulted in a careful and technical display.
But Canelo taking on Golovkin could very well become that shootout boxing fans crave. In Canelo’s past few fights it has become clear that he is not a fighter that is going to charge an opponent or even desperately seek to finish someone off. He allows fighters to come to him, utilizing upper-body movement to slip punches and come back with two or three blows to the body and head.
Golovkin is in theory then his direct foil. The Kazakh is a stalker, methodically hunting down his opponents until they have no other choice but to throw punches back at him, creating holes for Golovkin to exploit. 21 times in a row this method has ended Golovkin’s fights inside the distance.
Canelo is going to stand there and Golovkin will rush him head on. Both men are fond of powerful, yet technical counterpunches and this could ultimately be what the fight comes down to. On paper, the first man to make a mistake could very well be on rubbery legs.
This ostensibly puts the fight in Golovkin’s favor. Canelo has always had stamina issues, and is typically a very inactive fighter. According to Compubox statistics, before taking on Cotto, Canelo only threw an average of 16.2 jabs per round and 26.9 power shots per round, both significantly below the middleweight average.
Golovkin on the other hand throws an average of 29.9 jabs per round and an average of 38.7 power punches per round and has never had issues with his gas tank to date. Golovkin is bound to be incredibly active during this fight when coming forward and is far more technical a fighter than Canelo’s previous come-forward opponents such as James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo.
Golovkin no doubt has the edge in the tangible statistics, and will likely be the betting favorite when the odds for this fight are eventually made, but the intangible concept of permanently gaining favor in the hearts of Mexican and Mex-American boxing fans could very well drive Canelo to enforce his will on the most feared man in boxing.
No matter the outcome, this fight is sure to do well financially and could easily become a classic for hardcore boxing fans everywhere.