The Nuances of the Rematch

By Christian Giudice on September 14, 2018
The Nuances of the Rematch
For some fighters, being nervous is their way of determining their readiness for a bout.

Since their first meeting last September, the lead-up to this bout has been unsettling on many fronts…

Somewhere in the places where fighters don’t necessarily talk about is a level of anxiety leading up to a bout. It may emerge in various forms, but it is there. For some fighters, being nervous is their way of determining their readiness for a bout.

With a day remaining before the rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the fighters will be searching for a comfort zone, some place to relax and mentally prepare for an epic showdown. Since their first meeting last September, the lead-up to this bout has been unsettling on many fronts. Defined by drug rumors, suspensions, insults, delays, cancellations, and above all, inactivity, the focus was not on the boxers’ strategies, but rather the corners Alvarez did or didn’t cut in order to excel.

Neither fighter has benefited from the one-year layoff (Golovkin fought two rounds last May against Vanes Martirosyan). Although Alvarez has been able to properly heal since the first fight, his life outside the ring has been marred by doubt, speculation, and the impact of decisions that continue to haunt him. It is never easy to separate the controversy outside the ring from one’s performance inside of it.

Nevertheless, we have evidence that some fighters can thrive in that mode. In fact, some fighters are adept at blocking everything out and focusing on the fight at hand, but it is a difficult endeavor. Away from the media tumult, Golovkin condemned Alvarez, fought a non-threatening opponent, and tried to stay focused amidst a maelstrom. Steadfast in his criticism, Golovkin hasn’t wavered in his castigation of Canelo’s actions.

However, along with the harsh criticism comes unavoidable questions for both fighters. Judging from the scoring and overall performance of the first fight, most of them will be directed toward Alvarez.

“(I want to see) Canelo’s confidence that he knows how to beat GGG (having late success last year),” said J. Russell Peltz, boxing promoter and historian. “And if he can perform without PEDs if, in fact, he has been using them previously.”

Visualizing how a fight is going to unfold can be enlightening, and bring clarity to what a fighter expects to accomplish in the ring. But trying to navigate the various spectrums of what fighters have to deal with can be exhausting. Not only do fighters have to concerned about weight, media perception, outside influences, tickets, a contract, and family issues leading up to a fight, but they have to figure out how to establish balance.

When then-lightweight champion Ray Mancini fought Livingstone Bramble for a second time on February 16, 1985, he faced a man who had decisively stopped him nine months earlier. For Mancini, he needed to gain a psychological advantage after the brutality of the first fight. 

“I think any fighter relives the fight in his head so often before a rematch that he sees it unfold in every scenario,” said Mancini, who went 29-5 in his Hall of Fame career. “I believe Canelo’s got to have more questions than answers from the first one; whereas I think GGG has got to be significantly confident that that was the best Canelo got. Whereas he knows he can—and I believe will—better his performance from the first time around. I thought GGG won the first one pretty convincingly but I think this will be a definitive performance by him this time around.”

Even though the first fight did not live up to the war that fans were hoping for, a tactical battle ensued with Alvarez emerging as the introspective boxer trying to pick his spots, and, well, survive for a majority of the fight. Conversely, Golovkin did not stray too often from his gladiator mode, but appeared bewildered when Alvarez strategized to fight him going backwards rather than confronting him.

“When Alfredo Escalera fought Alexis Arguello in the rematch, you have to remember that during those times, they were still fighting 15-round fights,” said Paul Vega, Escalera’s longtime manager. “Now that was a fight! It takes a toll on you. What you see now is a walk in the park. You could see that Canelo respected him the first time, and was a little scared of him. GGG knows only one way to fight, and I see him coming forward and looking to knock this guy out early.”

The beauty of a rematch is that, depending on the way the fighters adapt, it may be even better the second time around. What Alvarez does to shift the tide, or what Golovkin does to enhance his offense, will only surface come fight time. And when you have fighters as skilled as they are, it may just be worth the long wait.

“A lot factors into a rematch,” said Hector Camacho Jr. “You keep replaying the fight in your mind and the mistakes that you made. You know what you want to improve upon. You know what you can do and what you can’t do this time around. We can see the same, close fight this time around.”

Or it might be even better.

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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Arguello KOs Escalera This Day in Boxing February 4, 1979

Ray Boom Boom Mancini vs Livingstone Bramble 2

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  1. thrashem 06:36am, 09/15/2018

    What you’re saying is “You want a war”
    James Toney-Mike McCallum, both pitching and both catching. The fight never went to the ropes. Unbelievable, that no-one got hurt. That was a fight, hard to score. At best, a draw.
    If these two fight like cavemen GGG will win!

  2. Lucas McCain 06:26am, 09/15/2018

    One of the best things about a big match is that it’s got everyone thinking and talking about it.  Good stuff here, both about actual boxing and the circus around it.  I’ve gotta say that, for all his faults, I’m still a big Teddy Atlas fan. (Yeah, I know the line about opinions and a**holes.)  He blames Canelo for the PEDs but he still thinks it’s an “existential” drama with Canelo learning both from the fight and from the guilt of what he’s done.  Nicely complex reading.  Hearing Teddy think through fights and about fighters, and topping it all off at the end with a little Cus D’Amato wisdom-for-the ages, is a treat.

    Good luck to all 8 guys on the card, and to Teddy, wherever he shows up afterward.

  3. Casanovita de Ahome 05:42pm, 09/14/2018

    This one is on GGG….period! After that face to face Canelo has to come forward….even if it’s only a surprise attack from time to time…..he has to come forward…period! GGG got his heads up a day early so he better get ready and stay ready! No Wlad style fencing! No taking turns! No stepping back! GGG has to punch with him! No going defensive it has to be all offense all the time! Red has to know that everything he throws will bring more incoming! No jumping back in surprise when Red does initiate an attack!  GGG has to move to the side and punch Goddammit punch!  He has go to the body…If Red counters GGG has to counter his counters! GGG’s the one who has to prove something here not Red! If he’s on his feet at the end his chauvinist asslix will see him as the winner regardless of how hard GGG pounds his ass!

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