Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Canelo-Golovkin: No longer a fight of fantasy


Note: This “Fight of Fantasy” article appears in the latest issue of THE RING magazine. “Fight of Fantasy” is a regular feature in “The Bible of Boxing”.


“He’s not a machine. He’s a man.”

That was a line in “Rocky IV,” in which Hollywood’s favorite fighter shook the seemingly invincible Ivan Drago and exposed his mortality. This is the real world, however, not Hollywood.

On March 18, Gennady Golovkin defeated Daniel Jacobs by a unanimous, but tight decision at Madison Square Garden in New York. The unified middleweight champion finally faced a stiff test – there were fans who thought he lost – and this new vulnerability has some experts reevaluating the battle that everyone wants to see.

Our March 2016 Cover

Canelo Alvarez, the RING middleweight champion, vs. Gennady Golovkin is still the hottest prospective fight in boxing. It would feature two big punchers, each bringing his own brand of excitement and loyal following, but both dogged by skepticism about the challenges they’ve faced. This fight would dismiss all the questions about hype and avoidance. For those reasons, the matchup is eagerly anticipated the world over and, should it be made, cannot fail to dazzle.

Golovkin’s struggle against Jacobs proved that one man had the attributes to cause him difficulty. The fact remains, though, that a Golovkin fight could be just as dangerous for Alvarez as it ever was. “Styles make fights” isn’t just a throwaway axiom in this case, and the sport’s history is full of other examples.

THE RING spoke to three boxing experts to gauge their opinion on what would happen if the ultimate middleweight showdown finally comes to fruition.

Former junior welterweight titleholder

The Jacobs fight did show people that Triple-G is beatable. It shows that he can be caught and that there is a way to box him. I’ve been in the ring with Canelo and he hits very hard with both hands. He has a real chance to beat Triple-G, not only because of his skills, but because he comes into the ring very heavy. Every shot he hits you with is designed to break you down. For me, this is almost a 50-50 fight, but I lean slightly towards Canelo. His movement has improved and he feints very well. The right hand he caught me with was set up off a feint and people can say what they want, but whoever Canelo catches with that shot is getting knocked out. Canelo can beat Golovkin by using his own style and by sticking to what he knows best. It’s also very difficult to hurt him. If you look at Canelo’s fights, he takes a great punch and he’s always ready to fire back. It’s a battle of punchers but, for me, Canelo is slicker and he’s the one doing all the improving. Triple-G fights in straight lines and gets caught. I think it goes 12 rounds and Canelo wins comfortably on the scorecards.


Hall of Fame trainer

Canelo is getting better all the time and Golovkin is a bit older now, but I don’t know if that will make a difference. In the Jacobs fight, Golovkin had a clever boxer in front of him who had a completely different style from Canelo. And I thought Golovkin won the fight anyway. It was back and forth, but I thought the (fourth-round) knockdown earned him the decision. Canelo is an accurate puncher and, as I said, he has improved technically. He’s thinking now, he sets things up and he’s not just standing there swinging. It’s a much more competitive fight than people think. At one time, everyone was picking Golovkin, but I don’t think that’s the case now. It’s getting closer all the time. Canelo must get past (Julio Cesar) Chavez Jr. but, hypothetically, if I had to pick a winner, I’d go with Triple-G. He’s getting older but I don’t think he’s done yet. Jacobs is a good boxer and he gave him some trouble, and if Canelo can change his style, he could trouble him too. It’s just that Golovkin and Canelo are natural punchers and I feel that both guys would be firing away. With two punchers, I think the stronger man wins and that’s Golovkin.


Showtime analyst

Jacobs and Canelo are two completely different fighters. I’m not sure that Canelo can make up for the deficiencies he has in terms of closing the range. He doesn’t have an effective jab and he doesn’t have quick feet. Canelo, as we saw against Erislandy Lara and Floyd Mayweather, has trouble with guys who control range. What I will say is that Jacobs’ body-punching made Golovkin back off. Canelo can be a destructive body-puncher but, again, Jacobs could disguise his entrance by using his feet. If Canelo can cut the distance in a creative way to get inside, then he’ll have success, but I’m not sure how he’s going to do that. And you can’t make any mistakes against Golovkin or your night could be over. Jacobs was also able to buy time against Golovkin by switching stance and he never stood still. He was changing things up for 12 rounds. I’m not knocking Canelo because he is a good, solid fighter but I don’t think he has enough versatility to trouble Golovkin. I don’t see the fight going over six rounds because Canelo is going to be right in front of him, and that means he’ll be right in the middle of the dynamite.


Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

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