Gennady Golovkin vs Saul Alvarez
Following the fight between Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Amir Khan questions were raised in my mind. Four rounds in Amir Khan's speed and boxing skill had him ahead. Then Canelo raised the game and start closing the distance and dictating the pace and won the first round. At the end of round 6 had feinted beautifully with his left hand and then clipped Khan on the chin with his right hand to end the fight (which may have been strategy back from the Maidana fight I am pretty sure). For Canelo to be two weight classes/8 pounds above Amir Khan and arguably higher on most pound for pound lists to be outboxed for the first quarter of the fight before landing a power shot was not a convicing enough performance for me. Now that he wants the Gennady Golovkin fight I thought I would give my take.
If we simplify it down, Canelo and Golovkin are both punchers. Both having boxing skill but they are punchers and have knockout power. Canelo however has faster hands and I believe can deliver his power payload faster than Golovkin. His jab is solid, stiff but quick and his right hand travels faster than one would expect. Amir Khan certainly didn't expect it. I give Canelo the advtange of quicker hands and I do believe Golovkin is slower in handspeed but makes up for it in additional ways which I will touch on later. The reason Khan, Cotto and Lara were able to box Canelo so well for the most part is he lacks substantial foot speed. The lateral movement of Cotto and Lara had Canelo looking frustrated many times and controversially if I may say I had both Cotto and Lara defeating Canelo in close fights. I cannot advocate Golovkin having super fast bouncing footwork too. He is much more methodical and slower and takes his time although he does have smart feet when trying to cut off the ring and can shift very well. Overall I believe in this category the youth of Canelo gives him a slight advantage of speed.
But so does power:
As mentioned earlier when you boil it down Canelo and Golovkin are punchers. GGG holds the highest amount of knockouts in middleweight history at 91% to Canelo's 67%. It also must be taken into account that Canelo started his career at welterweight and progressed through Super welterweight then into middlweight. Therefore Golovkin who is naturally a middleweight will have faced and KO'd heavier guys. If statistics speak it is evident that Golovkin hits harder and finishes better than Canelo.
Power means nothing if someone has a chin:
But Golovkin simply has the better chin. Gennady Golovkin has never been down professionally or as amateur. That's over a 1000 rounds of boxing and he hasn't been put down. Even lately as the Lemieux fight where he faced another devastating puncher he showed that when Lemieux was able to land the very, very occasional right hand Golovkin took it easily. In other fights he takes shots easily such as the Wade fight were he dropped his hands and smiled as Wade landed a combination. Whilst I am not aware of Canelo ever going down he has sometimes been troubled. In the Cotto fight I say on occasion (really once or twice) he was caught with clean shots and he looked troubled. Not hurt but enough to reconsider continuing his offense and to backup. At the end of the day Canelo is too unproven and Golovkin has displayed a very iron chin and I believe his ability to take a punch is superior to Canelo's.
Offensive capabilities (The puncher's chances):
In this part of who has a higher ring IQ in terms of offense I believe Golovkin applies pressure and lines up his attack much better than Canelo does. Golovkin uses his stiff jab as a range finder, to cut off the ring and most importantly to line up his attack. His jab is his best weapon. Be break down a world class middleweight in David Lemieux basically with his jab and a select few left hooks. His way in cutting off the ring is exceptional. The way he backed up Willie Monroe Jr, Martin Murray and even the much taller Dominic Wade just because of his ring intellect. He cuts the distance and your escape routes and encloses you in before launching a well timed and well placed attack to the head and body. Usually ensuring a body shot to the liver to score a knockdown or too tire someone out later down the fight. Canelo on the other hand as seen in the Khan and Cotto fight he chases people around the ring and manages to cut distance fine but usually in the second half of the fight and struggles earlier on. His inability to sufficielty cut off the ring puts him at a big disadvantage. Canelo's strength and quick hands combinaed with other things so as clever feints allow him to line up his defense. Similar to Golovkin he has a very good pallet of punches and varies his offense to make him more unpredictable. He switches easily to the head and body as seen in his fight against Erislandy lara however that fight was another example of how he failed to cut off the ring properly and had he done so he might have won it more convicingly. In this argument I say that Golovkin is the more skilled, proficient and smarter fighter in terms of offensive capability.
Another problem I say in Canelo's performance from Khan was his openess to taking shots and counter punches from Amir Khan. This may be because of Khan's superior handspeed but that should be irrelevant. A good boxer should be able to block the majority of shots despite the fighter. Canelo despite sometimes not getting his hands up high enough does manage to step out of way and have good head movement as seen in the Miguel Cotto fight and in particular the second half as he began to get his rhythm. Golovkin is an incredibly elusive despite coming forward. His hands are high almost all the time despite when he wants to impress people by dropping his hands and taking shots (Wade fight). Besides that how often does he take a flush shot ? Very rarely. Lemieux got a few shots in but Golovkin comes right back. Willie Monroe Jr's speed was getting the better of Golovkin the first round and the same with Martin Murray. After that he dominates the remainder of the fight. Honeslty I think Golovkin is a lot slicker and from what I have seen from both fighters Canelo leaves himself a lot more open and leaves himself to get capitalised on.
How do I see it panning out ?:
It starts tentative at first in round 1. Neither fighter is going to engage. Golovkin is trying to establish the jab and coming forward. Canelo is keeping his hands high and parrying the jab whilst not moving around too quickly but ensuring he doesn't give up crucial ring space. Canelo tries to act as the counterpuncher. He will land an occasional jab with majority being blocked. He will try and land a right hand but despite his quick hands Golovkin will see it coming. Round 1 and 2 will be slow starting with Golovkin landing a couple more. Round 3 to five will have Golovkin being more determined and fasting starter. His jab will be more frequent and Canelo will start being backed up. He will take a right hand but Canelo will take it. Alvarez won't back up easily and will land his own power shots. Some will land and jolt Golovkin's head up. Gennady will not be hurt and will return fire. I see Canelo counterpunching well and just stealing a few middle rounds that could have went to Golovkin. When it gets to round 8 Golovkin will start backing up Canelo more and this time he will take more flush shots to land his own power shots as Canelo has the ring cut off. In this later stage of the fight I believe the fighters will have an exchange and Golovkin will drop Canelo. He will be dropped again but survive. With him on the backfoot and Golovkin fully in control he will still be in the fight and trying to make it competitive. As it reaches round 10 Canelo will be taking shots at the ropes and I believe some hard body shots will weaken either taking him out in round 10 or finishing him in round 11.
How title bout sees it (computer simulator correct 75-85% of the time):
Round 1: Action packed round with Golovkin slow from hard body shots but coming back to stunning Canelo with left and rights. Canelo steals a close round with a quick combination.
Round 2: Canelos starts the round strong but Golovkin's defense blocks a lot of shots and he lands a right hand which backs up Alvarez who steals another close round with a combination.
Round 3: One of the most action packed rounds ever as they go toe to toe with hard body shots managing to hurt each other. Ultimately Canelo's speed landed him more and won he round.
Round 4: Golovkin caught Alvarez early who bravely fought back but was fighting on wobbly legs and got dropped by a right hand late in the round.
Round 5: Golovkin was too slow as the faster Canelo peppered him with shots and easily boxed his way to a clean win of the round despite taking a punch or two.
Round 6: Again both fighers stun each other in this high pace action but Canelo's higher workrate is taking the round as Golovkin can't capitalise on his own shots.
Round 7: Golovkin comes forward again and although the faster Alvarez started the round strong a huge left hook dropped Alvarez with a minute to go. He got up very fast but continued to take punishment and the referee steps in to stop the fight.
Gennady Golovkin the winner by 7th round TKO
Scorecards before stoppage: 58-55 X2 and 57-56 all for Canelo
All comments, critique and other opinions welcome.