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17th September 2022
By: Rich Lopez
This Saturday, one of the biggest fights of the year is taking place. It will be the anticipated rubber match between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KO’s) and Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KO’s). It took a while for this fight to happen but better late than never. Here’s a look at the two prior fights, the buildup, and what to expect in the third fight.
Canelo vs GGG I: These two fighters met at the perfect time. You may hear some fans saying that Canelo didn’t want any part of GGG but that is simply not true. GGG was the ruler of the middleweight division for many years and it was not until late 2015 when Canelo made his middleweight debut by defeating Miguel Cotto. Canelo would meet GGG in September of 2017. It really was not much of a wait when these two fighters met. Remember it took Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr about six years to fight each other. The big question going into this fight was: Can Canelo compete with an elite middleweight such as GGG and how would Canelo handle the power punches of GGG? Canelo answered that by being competitive with GGG and taking his punches well. The fight was entertaining and went the full distance. Despite Canelo performing well, he did not do enough to win the fight. Canelo had his moments in the fight but GGG was the busier fighter. Canelo spent much of the fight backing up against the ropes showing his defense. As we all know the judges thought otherwise and gave the fight a draw. GGG would keep his middleweight titles. This was a robbery and GGG won the fight clearly. I scored the fight 116-112 for GGG which I feel was accurate. With that being said, a rematch needed to happen to settle the score and controversy.
Canelo vs GGG II: To both fighter’s credit, the rematch happened a year later in September of 2018. The fight was supposed to happen even earlier in May of 2018 but Canelo tested positive for Clenbuterol and the fight was pushed back. This would only add drama to the fight. Also GGG’s former trainer Abel Sanchez called Canelo a runner and dared him to fight “Mexican Style” in the rematch. That created some bad blood between the fighters and made the rematch more anticipated. The rematch delivered and was better than the second fight. This fight was more competitive than the first fight. Canelo made adjustments and fought with more pressure. However, the fight went to distance again and it was a very close fight. I had scored the fight 115-113 for Canelo but it could have easily been a draw at 114-114 or 115-113 for GGG. I think nobody can say that either fighter won the fight clearly. The judges scored it a majority decision win for Canelo and he won the middleweight championship. Once again, another great fight but with some fans not satisfied with the decision. A rubber match was in store immediately but it didn’t happen. Both fighters went a different route but it was Canelo who was not chasing a third fight at that moment.
Since their second fight, Canelo has fought eight times by winning seven of those fights and losing one of them. He defended the middleweight belts one more time. Then he would win a title in a fourth weight division at light heavyweight and then he became the undisputed super middleweight champion. This made Canelo the number one fighter in the world pound for pound. Most recently Canelo lost to Dmitrii Bivol back in May. The loss did not hurt Canelo’s status as a top pound for pound fighter though. For GGG, he had been less active by fighting four times since the second fight and he won all those fights. Most recently he won his last fight when he defeated Ryota Murata by a ninth round TKO. Now that the rubber match is set, here are a few questions going into the fight.
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Who has more to lose in this fight? This is an easy answer as Canelo has more to lose in this fight. Canelo is coming off a loss even though he challenged himself by moving up in weight to fight an elite fighter. However, Canelo is the favorite and a loss against GGG would remove him from the top ten ranking as the best fighter in the world pound for pound. For GGG, he has nothing to lose. He is already the underdog so a win would look great. Not only that, but if GGG loses, he can always move back down to middleweight and defend his current titles there if he chooses. Remember, GGG is still the number one middleweight in the world. Will age be a factor for GGG? This is the big question going into the fight. GGG is now 40 years old but can he still perform well at the highest level? Fighters can get old in a fight overnight and it can happen to GGG on Saturday. Based on what I saw in his last fight, GGG has slowed down but only a little bit. This makes me believe he will still perform at the highest level. Just something else to consider. Even though Canelo is in his prime and younger at age 32, he has a lot of fights. Canelo has 61 fights already which is a lot. Not saying Canelo will get old but there could be more wear and tear on Canelo.
Will the scorecards be fair? Given the history of the first two fights, I don’t think they will be fair. Bad judging continues in the sport of boxing and that was evident in the Canelo/GGG fights. We should expect this again if the fight goes to distance. Considering that Canelo is the “A” side fighter, expect the scores to favor him in a close fight.
Final Thoughts: With that being said, we have waited four years for this fight and it should deliver again. This time the fight will be at super middleweight and not at middleweight like the last two fights. The fighters match up well and their styles are made for each other. Adding the bad blood between them just intensifies the fight. It seems like Canelo wants to make a statement and win by knockout. I also see GGG giving this fight everything he has since this could be his last big fight. I see a fight similar to the second fight but with more volume in punches by both fighters. I think the key factor here is body punching for Canelo. If Canelo wears down the body of GGG, I can see Canelo pulling off a stoppage in the late rounds. GGG would need to stick to the jab and counter Canelo inside when he opens up. This would be GGG’s best plan. If GGG turns back the clock, this fight will go to distance but I still see Canelo squeezing out a split decision win. Either way, expect a great fight and possibly the best fight of the rivalry.
Written By: Rich Lopez