Preview: Canelo vs. GGG Part II

By Christian Giudice on September 15, 2018
Preview: Canelo vs. GGG Part II
Canelo can’t make Golovkin miss with beautiful head feints, and then not return fire. (AP)

Even though Canelo took risks that put him in harm’s way in the first fight, he never was blistered by Golovkin…


It is easy to stray from the jab. Why not? A fighter who is hell-bent on thriving offensively may not consider using a punch that feels so ordinary. Why use it if it is much easier to move inside with a cross or a hook? But what can’t be overlooked is its effect. It is nearly impossible to deny that a fighter who consistently applies pressure behind a jab is always in a much better position than the fighter who abandons it. That being said, Golovkin is not the guy who throws jabs at different speeds or mixes up one to the chest and then the head. Yet, he does paw the jab when he is trying to figure out his opponent. He doesn’t rely on it to buy time or time his opponents like Hector Camacho or Alexis Arguello used to do so well. Instead, he beats his opponent with it, and, more importantly, he uses it in times of chaos and adversity.

One would think that would be the most ideal time to abandon it, but in the eleventh and twelfth rounds of the first right, Golovkin always moved back to the jab even after getting hit cleanly.BOLD Even in duress, Golovkin has the peace of mind to use it. That shows how dedicated he is to using it.

Conversely, Canelo throws a nice jab, and has used it effectively in the past, but he tends to abandon it late in fights. Evidence to this inconsistent usage is the stat that he only landed 10 jabs over the final three rounds of the first fight. In comparison, Golovkin landed 31 over that span. Granted they were close rounds that all three judges gave to Canelo, but if you looked at the pattern of those rounds, Canelo was pretty much exhausted after the scintillating first minutes in each of those rounds because Golovkin’s jab deflated him. A more telling stat may be that Canelo landed three total jabs in the eighth and ninth rounds, and lost both of them on two scorecards (and it should have been all three).

Advantage: Golovkin


Golovkin doesn’t employ much head movement. Because Golovkin relies on a pressure style, he just does not feel the need to rely on head movement or commit to feints. But that does not mean he wouldn’t benefit from them. There were times in the first bout that Golovkin slipped punches and then reverted back to his attack, but too often he let Canelo land cleanly in the early minutes of rounds. Since his chin is so good, Golovkin did not suffer from the lethal combination. Defensively, Canelo is not easy to hit. Even though Canelo took risks that put him in harm’s way in the first fight, he never was blistered by Golovkin. What does that mean? Well, Canelo stayed in front of Golovkin on the ropes, which usually equates to a death sentence for most fighters, but Canelo never relented. Was it running at times? Yes. Did he benefit from excellent tactics? Also, yes. Additionally, Canelo uses feints and cute moves to get inside. Golovkin doesn’t apply such tactics.

Advantage: Canelo


It is hard to measure the impact of gaining a psychological edge, but Golovkin caused Canelo to become hesitant and reluctant the first time around. To chalk it up to constant pressure would do a disservice to Golovkin. He controls the space and the tone of the bout through that pressure. It is all encompassing. Thus, Golovkin is not just blindly chasing his opponents; instead, he puts fear in them. Due to the comprehensive attack, Canelo’ was essentially saying, “I don’t want to engage with you.” Amazingly, Canelo wanted nothing to do with Golovkin the second half of most rounds, and, at times, he fled confrontations that even he looked to have the advantage. What makes this more relevant for tonight’s bout is the fact that Canelo might even go into this fight as an angry fighter looking to settle a grudge, which would not work in his favor.

Advantage: Golovkin

Offensive Attack:

A fighter can’t beat GGG fighting flat-footed and fatigued. Canelo was hindered by both in the rounds he gave up in the first fight. If there is a formula for beating Golovkin, it is Canelo’s hit-and-not-be-hit approach, but it must be inextricably linked with his own attack. He can’t make Golovkin miss with beautiful head feints, and then not return fire. If that is the case, Canelo’s shift to a pure boxer makes no sense and lacks purpose. That decision to box has to be predicated on gaining an offensive to be a winning strategy. It would be unfair to say Canelo did not do that in the first fight.

In the tenth round, Canelo feinted to the left and right and landed a nice cross; additionally, Canelo slipped a straight right and landed a hook to Golovkin’s ribcage in the same round. It is just a matter of being able to sustain that type of output over the course of a fight, which is not easy. Golovkin is the embodiment of an offensive-minded fighter who pressures fighters both mentally and physically; it is nearly impossible to evade him. In the process, Golovkin sucks the air and energy from opponents. One area to improve upon is accuracy as Golovkin may have thrown too many right crosses in the first fight, especially since Canelo “went with” the punch to soften the blow and deftly escaped a lot of them. As for his penchant for head hunting in fight No. 1, it is unlikely Golovkin will wait so long to go to the body. Just saying he needs to go to the body is easy; however, Golovkin needs to position himself to slip a right hand and then plant a left hook to the body.  In order to be successful today, Golovkin can’t wait to attack as he did when Canelo went back to the ropes. It is incumbent upon him to not let those opportunities pass.

Advantage: Golovkin

Key punch:

In the eighth round, both men traded uppercuts, with Canelo’s being much more impactful. As tough as Golovkin is, he never wavered and kept coming forward. After Canelo landed his uppercut—which he pulls back after throwing—as he worked on the inside, he looked to move away, fearing repercussions. Completely devoted to his aggression, Golovkin’s most dangerous punch may be the uppercut, but his most useful punch may be the right cross as strange as that sounds. Because Canelo dips his head to the left, Golovkin can perfectly time him with the right cross. But the reality is that all of Golovkin’s punches are dangerous when he sets them up and turns into them. Canelo was guilty of throwing punches flat-footed and those punches just rolled off of Golovkin. But when Canelo is in a rhythm, like he was during the first minute of round twelve, he proved virtually unstoppable as he landed nearly all of his 19 power punches (out of 23 total landed punches). It would be unfair to leave off Canelo’s right and left hooks to the body, which he can land without a jab.

Advantage: Golovkin (slight)


Canelo exhibited his hand speed on multiple occasions in the first fight. Although he didn’t hurt Golovkin, Canelo landed exceptional 3-4 punch combinations at the beginning of rounds. In the final round, Canelo was able to integrate jabs (tripled up on them) with a three-punch combination. He just did not produce enough of them. Now Golovkin is not slow, but no one is going to mistake him for a guy who relies on speed to generate his power. His pressure and positioning help generate his power.

Advantage: Canelo (clear edge)

Summary of fight:

In most of those categories, Golovkin has an edge, albeit a slight one. Nothing has occurred over the last year to show us that Canelo can handle such a powerful force. If anything, Canelo’s behavior between the fights have led more questions than answers—and similar questions need to posed to his entire team as well. When it comes to the fight itself, Canelo needs to be able to dictate the pace in order to not leave himself so vulnerable and prone to clean attacks, which will be more intensified and accurate this time around. No longer can he face Golovkin head on; he must come in from angles and use feints that lead to left counter hooks to the body and straight rights over Golovkin’s jab. Also, Canelo needs to slip—and not run or escape—those pulverizing right hands, stay low and place those left hooks to the body and then head. If he goes back to the ropes, Canelo will get slaughtered. Golovkin and Abel Sanchez are too intelligent to let that happen twice without enacting real repercussions.

Even if he doesn’t want to acknowledge it, everything stems from the jab and if he wants to stabilize and keep Golovkin off, Canelo must quadruple his output of jabs. It is important for Canelo that during this uptick in jabs that he throw them in succession, especially when Golovkin is in ambush mode or about to get set. In the first fight, Golovkin went in unabated, and that can’t happen today. The choice of referee in Benjy Esteves Jr. and respectable judges will ensure that the fighters will only have to concern themselves with what’s happening in the ring. As for Golovkin, he must be more accurate, especially with his power shots in the second half of the fight. He can begin to land more 4-5 punch combinations, especially if a riskier version of Canelo surfaces tonight. Defensively and pacing-wise, Golovkin swapped the first quarter of at least three rounds in order to control the rest of the round in the first fight, but by doing so he let Canelo get into a comfort zone and got hit too much, and that mentality was never more evident than the tenth and eleventh rounds of the first fight. Reiterating earlier points, Golovkin needs to focus on hooks to the body early, stick to the jab, constantly remind and beating Canelo to the spot when he gets into escape mode. Both fighters will want to exhibit display their greatness in this bout. They have waited long enough. Canelo will likely come out fast and continue to blend his style into being more puncher than boxer. It might be dangerous, but also his only recourse. In response, Golovkin will also be on the attack (stripping Canelo of his energy), but much sharper than the first fight. When Canelo takes lulls, Golovkin will stick in three-punch combinations. We won’t see the same Canelo this time around; in other words, he won’t be going backwards anymore, he can’t afford to. 

Christian Giudice
Author: A Fire Burns Within: The Miraculous Journey of Wilfredo Gomez
Author: The Rise and Fall of Alexis Argüello
Author: Hands of Stone: The Life and Legend of Roberto Duran


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  1. Lucas McCain 08:28pm, 09/15/2018

    I wasn’t scoring, but a looked like a dead heat to me, and the draw goes to the bigger box office.  But not to sound cynical.  The fight won the Carmen Basilio-Tony DeMarco award for taking it to the edge.  Old-time guts and cutting edge skills.  All anger spent by the end, and their embrace was genuine.  Who cares if Mayweather fights Pacquaio again.

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