Golovkin vs. Canelo: Early Thoughts

By Paul Magno on July 21, 2017
Golovkin vs. Canelo: Early Thoughts
Golovkin’s opposition has been perfectly lined up, stylistically, to make him look good.

It remains to be seen how Alvarez fights when backed against the wall, possibly bloody and swollen and buzzed from big shots…

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin is not just a BIG fight, it’s also a very intriguing fight for a lot of reasons.

A lot of that intrigue has to come from the fact that we just don’t really know what Golovkin will do when things aren’t stacked in his favor. Up until now, Golovkin’s opposition has been perfectly lined up, stylistically, to make him look good. Whether this was an intentional play by his people or just a natural happenstance of a fairly weak middleweight division is a point of debate, but the fact of the matter is that “Triple G” has had very little to worry about from his opposition for just about all of his career.

Golovkin’s two most recent fights, though, HAVE had him up against opponents whose skills and abilities weren’t perfectly aligned to be overshadowed by his. And Golovkin responded by…well, by not looking as awesome as he usually does.

Against Kell Brook, Golovkin had little to fear in the fists of the welterweight import—and he fought accordingly. While Brook’s hand speed and accuracy allowed him to connect flush whenever he chose to let his hands go, the lack of power gave Golovkin free reign to just barrel in and, literally, tear Brook’s face apart.

Facing a larger Daniel Jacobs, who was in possession of superior athleticism and strong legs, Golovkin had virtually no answer. He did what other power fighters do when presented with a bit of a puzzle—he pressed forward, doing the same thing he always does. Golovkin’s failure to shine wasn’t a matter of Jacobs executing a sharp and super smart game plan, either. The invincible Golovkin was just not all that effective against a fighter with some skills and attributes to complicate the bout. Many observers, including this writer, felt that Jacobs did enough to beat Golovkin that night. But whether you scored the fight for Jacobs or Golovkin, the lesson learned that night was clear—Gennady Golovkin was not invincible and could be somewhat stumped by simply being made to feel uncomfortable with what his opponent could do.

It’s not hard to understand how a fighter could be made to feel complacent when he has been bathed in praise for more than a decade’s worth of being set up to win.

This writer, back at The Boxing Tribune, touched on the absurdity of a long-reigning world champ, with All-Time-Great buzz circling around him, just, barely, touching on a stylistic difficulty:

“How absurd is it to realize that we’re finally learning how the consensus middleweight champ nineteen fights into a world title reign and ranked by many as an all-time-great, right behind Marvin Hagler—would react if he met up with a live body in the ring? How much clearer can it be made that Gennady Golovkin has been handed an easy and utterly uncomplicated path to money and blind adulation? Up until his nineteenth world title bout, we had no idea just how he would handle someone who could use even the slightest degree of movement in the ring. What does that say about the GGG career path and, maybe just as importantly, what does that say about the GGG business?...What’s undeniable about the Golovkin business is that, up until the Jacobs bout, we’ve only seen him matched against opposition perfectly lined up to make him look good…”

Now, the question is—what will Gennady Golovkin do against someone who can box a little, can counter effectively, has a solid punch, is doggedly (almost arrogantly) determined, and has a cold, calculated demeanor?

On the surface, it looks as though Golovkin, despite giving away nearly a decade in age, has just about every possible physical edge over Canelo—physical strength, power, size, chin. But fighters aren’t always a sum of their parts and a LOT is not known about a Golovkin who is fighting someone with both the ability and mindset to push back.

Can Alvarez stand in the pocket, countering off of Golovkin’s big punches, and bully the bully? Can Alvarez withstand Golovkin’s power long enough to execute any sort of coherent game plan? Can either fighter make adjustments mid-fight against the most dangerous opponent either has faced to date?

We know a lot more about Canelo and where his mind goes when presented with great difficulty in the ring. We also know that he prefers a smooth, predictable pace and is not keen on taking risks in pursuit of landing big shots. While he can be stiff and mechanical at times, he’s worked on his fluidity and bouts with Floyd Mayweather, Erislandy Lara, and Austin Trout have served him very well in that regard. Still, Alvarez has to be characterized as a fighter who likes a predictable, controllable fight where he can do things at his own pace—and that may not suit him well against the type of fury Golovkin can bring. Also, it remains to be seen how Alvarez fights when backed against the wall, possibly bloody and swollen and buzzed from big shots.

In terms of punching power, Alvarez has a solid punch, but it is not the type of explosive, one-punch power that can turn the tide of a fight from one moment to the next. In other words, it’s not Golovkin-type power. He can no doubt hurt Golovkin at some point, but it’s more likely to occur gradually, from punches that wear down rather than wipe out. A strict focus on body work would do wonders for Canelo as Golovkin is not fond of being worked downstairs. As a matter of fact, a little birdie with inside knowledge of Golovkin and his sparring habits has informed this writer of just how much Triple G dislikes being pounded to the body.

On paper, Canelo can beat Golovkin and has all the tools to do it. The question, though, is whether the theoretical is actually practical. And that will be determined when Alvarez first tastes the power and alpha dog aggression of Gennady Golovkin. If Alvarez can weather the storm, slow things down, and earn the respect of his opponent, he may just walk away with an easier-than-expected victory. That’s a big “if,” though.

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  1. JJ Austin 07:16pm, 07/25/2017

    OK Koolz, while we don’t agree on GGG’s road to the top we DO agree on this fight. I have ko 7, you have ko 8. He will demolish the Over rated canelo and then hopefully we see the rematch with Jacobs. Who is Clearly the other best middleweight.

  2. Koolz 06:04am, 07/25/2017

    I have followed GGG Before anyone on this site before even pros in Germany, before Olympics.

    And GGG was only getting hand picked fights before K2 Promotions.
    I shall re instate my opinion this article is absolute Crap and completely Bias.
    GGG destroys Canelo in eight rounds.

    GGG was supposed to fight Pirog as his first fight in the US but got Proksa a fighter that was the top fighter in Europe.  Pirog hurt his back and that was the end of his boxing career.  You might remember Pirog he beat Jacobs.

    GGG was supposed to fight Martinez you know the Man at Middle Weight.  But duck duck duck duck duck….
    The Second at Middle Weight was Murray who really beat Martinez in Argentina.  We know what happened when Murray fight GGG.

    Golovkin beat Jacobs, Knocked him down, didn’t go for the kill and made it so it lasted 12 rounds.
    In that fight Golovkin showed he can stop even the fastest punches on his gloves.  Jacobs is fast! 

    Jacabos face was puffed up and his eyes were swollen after the fight.

    well this is about Canelo after all.  Canelo fighting at 160 for the first time and he is going to beat the Unified Middle Weight Champion who has the record in boxing history as the highest KO percentage at Middle Weight.

    mmmmm….Nope Canelo TKO’d round 8.

  3. JJ Austin 01:30pm, 07/23/2017

    First of all, the writer is correct. Jacobs beat GGG and his opponents were handpicked by giving him smaller, light punching guys with the exception of David Lemieux, who doesn’t have the chin to match GGG’s power. So look in the mirror before calling an article retarded. That being said, GGG will win this fight easily, and by KO. Canelo is another small, light punching opponent (don’t give me he has power - PLEASE!!  he’s a fuking Welterweight) and he’s overrated to boot. Lara beat him decisively and he lost to Austin Trout also. He’ll be no match for the power of GGG and will be pounded into submission by the 7th rd much like Kell Brook was. A rematch with Jacobs is what we as Real boxing fans should be demanding.

  4. Koolz 11:29am, 07/22/2017

    This whole article is retarded.  You are judging Golovkin by two fights.
    such newb!  Golovkin has had his fighters hand picked?  Are you serious?

    I never seen so many middle weights duck for the hills when they could have fought Golovkin.  Who in the heck would have been better then top Middle weights that Golovkin fought?

    You realize before Golovkin is was all about Barker, Geale, Murray, Martinez.

    the battle is the same the fighters change names, but that doesn’t make the fighters less of a threat in their division.

    It’s same BS has looking at the Halger vs Sugar Ray Lenard fight and seeing something so magical that boxing has never seen it before!  Pfft.

  5. Koolz 11:23am, 07/22/2017

    Biggest Show on Earth!!

    Golovkin controls the fight with his jab keeping Canelo back.  Canelo tries and makes a fight of it so he can get it in his wonder body shot and fails.

    GGG by TKO in round 8.  This is a fight where the mask comes off and Golovkin shows the world he is still Mr.  Bad Ass.

    Canelo hasn’t fought against anyone in top middle weight division.  He hasn’t fought even the top 10 in that division.

    You think he is going to beat the best at middle weight?

  6. Does Kaufmanns tell Gimbels their business? 08:11am, 07/22/2017

    Based on Conor’s potential payday….you can bet your bippy that Paulie is getting top dollar for being McGregors sparring partner/mentor/PR guy….probably more than he’s gotten for some of his fights.

  7. Does Kaufmanns tell Gimbels their business? 06:57am, 07/22/2017

    Danny Jacobs is over 6 ft tall and was north of 180 fight night…. that’s why he blew off the second weigh-in….he is athletic and probably physically stronger than both Canelo and GGG…..he hits as hard as GGG and harder than Canelo….add to that he was out of his skull motivated for that fight. It is highly questionable if Canelo would have beaten Jacobs or even lasted the full 12 with Danny that night.

  8. Anthony Healy 06:25am, 07/22/2017

    Canelo wins
    Canelo had s better variety of punches
    Close fight
    Canelo late stoppage or unanimous decision

  9. Kid Blast 07:27pm, 07/21/2017

    Real boxing for real fans. Not a freak show.

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