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Canelo-GGG: Head to Head

13
Sep

When the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao superfight was made for May 2015 in Las Vegas, there was a feeling that it had been overcooked. In fact, after a six-year wait, it had been all but cremated and the ashes scattered. Mayweather’s subsequent unanimous-decision victory was masterful but as boring as a tumbleweed rolling mournfully across the Nevada desert.

This one feels different, despite the wait.

On September 16, 2017, Canelo Alvarez, the RING middleweight champion, and Gennady Golovkin, the IBF, WBA and WBC titleholder, will finally square off at T-Mobile Arena in what is likely to be the complete antithesis of Mayweather-Pacquiao. Indeed, this encounter should produce enough electricity to light up the Las Vegas Strip.

Both men love to fight. Canelo brings pure Mexican machismo, an explosive all-action style and quick fists to battle. Golovkin, equally skilled, is a seek-and-destroy force of nature who can cause mass destruction with a single power shot from either hand. When the bell sounds, the boxing world will find out who has the superior weaponry.

The timing of the fight is also perfect. Three years ago, Canelo was a work in progress with bags of potential. He had been easily outpointed by Mayweather in September 2013 but used that setback as motivation to improve. Since that time, the redhead has displayed his boxing acumen in decision wins over brilliant fighters like Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto.

Golovkin has been boxing’s boogeyman for several years. Contender after contender fell before the fearsome Kazakhstani and, with each passing knockout, the “invincible” tag looked more and more justified. And it wasn’t just the punching power. Golovkin pursued his victims like an indestructible villain in a horror movie, and there was no escape

Enter Daniel Jacobs.

In March, “The Miracle Man” lived up to his nickname by absorbing Golovkin’s best bombs while giving the long-reigning champion hell over 12 rounds. Jacobs lost a narrow unanimous decision on the scorecards but Golovkin’s incredible knockout streak was snapped at 23 and suddenly the monster-man looked mortal.

Canelo doesn’t fight anything like Jacobs. He does not have Jacobs’ natural size, his lateral movement or his ability to switch-hit. However, the Mexican is nine years Golovkin’s junior with a superb skillset of his own. Can he outfox the older man and punch hard enough to keep him honest? Will Golovkin’s superior pedigree and power prove too much? Those questions will be answered on September 16.

In this feature, THE RING analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of both men by applying scores between 0-5 in key areas.

THE KEYS:

HANDSPEED

Canelo has very quick fists and releases strong combinations when an opponent is trapped against the ropes. Golovkin is more about timing than speed, although he is far from slow.

CANELO  4

GOLOVKIN 


ENDURANCE

Two very durable athletes. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., at 164.5 pounds, couldn’t slow Canelo down in May. Jacobs landed plenty of shots on Golovkin, who maintained his poise through 12 hard rounds.

CANELO  4

GOLOVKIN  4


FOOTWORK

Both men are aggressive and movement is not a priority. However, Golovkin is brilliant at cutting off the ring and can create panic without throwing a punch. Canelo is very adept at using his feet to position himself for counterpunching opportunities.

CANELO  4

GOLOVKIN  

POWER (LEAD HAND)

Golovkin has 33 knockouts in 37 wins. That’s an 89 percent knockout ratio, and that power is evenly distributed in both hands. Canelo can punch but cannot match GGG. No middleweight can.

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  5


POWER (TRAIL HAND)

See POWER (LEAD HAND)

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  5


JAB

Golovkin uses the jab to set up crushing combinations, and he can also use it to keep powerful fighters at bay, as evidenced in his bout with David Lemieux. Canelo works well off a strong jab, but Golovkin is more adept at controlling distance with that shot.

CANELO  4

GOLOVKIN  5


HOOK

Both fighters have terrific technique on the hook – with either hand.

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  


ABILITY TO SLIP AND BLOCK

Canelo’s defensive timing has improved dramatically. His head movement against Miguel Cotto was very impressive and allowed him to set up terrific counterpunches against an elite opponent. Golovkin is easier to hit and has the tendency to back off in straight lines.

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  


PHYSICAL CONDITION

Canelo, at 26 years old, is at the absolute peak of his physical conditioning. Golovkin is 35 but he is superbly trained and a quality athlete.

CANELO  4½

GOLOVKIN  


POISE AND ABILITY TO COPE WITH EXTERNAL PRESSURES

Both fighters are superb professionals. Canelo’s mental strength belies his years and his ability to improve following the defeat to Mayweather has been impressive. Golovkin is all business.

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  

KILLER INSTINCT

If either of these champions has you on the hook, don’t make any plans. The slightest sign of weakness will be ruthlessly exploited. No mercy.

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  5


INTELLIGENCE AND STRATEGIC DEXTERITY

Although there has been significant improvement in is overall game, Canelo had no idea how to cope with Mayweather. There was no significant change in his game plan across 12 one-sided rounds. Golovkin struggled with Jacobs in the second half of their fight and came close to losing.

CANELO  4

GOLOVKIN  4


EXPERIENCE

Canelo has mixed with the better opposition as a professional but Golovkin’s amateur pedigree and long title reign make up for that.

CANELO 

GOLOVKIN  


BODY PUNCHING

Golovkin cracked two of Matthew Macklin’s ribs with a single left hook to the body. Canelo almost broke Liam Smith in half with the same shot. Body snatchers of the highest quality.

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  


INFIGHTING SKILLS

If you have any sense, you shouldn’t be inside with Golovkin. For that reason, he rarely gets a chance

to display his infighting skills. This is also not an area of strength for Canelo, who enjoys long and mid-range combat.

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  


QUALITY OF OPPONENTS

Canelo, despite being a lot younger, has better names on his resume. Shane Mosley, Mayweather, Cotto, Lara and Austin Trout trump Jacobs, Lemieux, Martin Murray, Kell Brook and Willie Monroe Jr.

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  


CHIN AND RESILIENCE

Canelo takes punishment very well. When the much bigger Chavez Jr. did manage to land a punch, it had zero impact. Golovkin took his licks against Jacobs and showed no ill effects.

CANELO  4

GOLOVKIN  


CROSS/UPPERCUT

Canelo’s cross is a quickly loaded and powerful punch, and his uppercuts, particularly on the counter, are terrific. Golovkin’s cross, as you would expect, is lethal but the edge on the uppercut goes to the younger man.

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  


ATHLETICISM

Canelo appears to have superior hand speed and relies on razor-sharp reflexes for defense. Golovkin makes up for any deficiencies in those departments with anticipation and timing.

CANELO  4

GOLOVKIN  


CORNER

Eddy Reynoso has developed Canelo brilliantly over the last three years or so. The emphasis on defense and sharp counterpunching has worked wonders in the ring. Abel Sanchez is beyond reproach as a coach, and his record with Golovkin speaks for itself.

CANELO  

GOLOVKIN  


TOTALS:

CANELO:

85½

(single category average: 4.28)

GOLOVKIN:

86

(single category average: 4.30)

SUMMARY AND PREDICTION

So the 20-category analysis favors Golovkin, although the difference is negligible. My prediction goes against the numbers which, although frustrating in terms of continuity, is explainable. The categories that I view as vital involve youth, athleticism, speed, reflexes and durability. If Alvarez can make Golovkin miss and make him pay, then he stands a chance of slowing the middleweight juggernaut’s forward momentum. Canelo doesn’t need to neutralize Golovkin’s aggression completely, but he must break it up and find opportunities to score. Attacking the body of the older man would make sense and it is imperative that Canelo use his powerful combinations to exact a toll as the rounds go by. The one caveat I must add is that Canelo has to make a physical impression. If Golovkin can walk through a fighter’s best assaults, then defeating GGG is practically impossible.

CANELO ALVAREZ UD 12

MORE CANELO-GGG FEATURES FROM THE RING:

Canelo Alvarez: The different one

Gennady Golovkin: The quiet man

Separate Paths: Do fighters with extensive amateur backgrounds (like Gennady Golovkin) have an advantage over those who don’t (like Canelo Alvarez)?

Ranking THE RING’s 31 middleweight champions

Rabbit Punches podcast ep. 13 — Canelo-GGG preview:

These articles first appeared in the November 2017 of THE RING Magazine. THE RING, boxing’s foremost publication since 1922, contains in-depth features and commentary from some of the sport’s top writers. You can get the digital edition of the magazine as part of our new Ringside Ticket package by subscribing here.