Canelo v GGG II: The big-fight debate
Can Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez handle Gennady Golovkin's power after a year of inactivity? Are the years catching up with GGG?
Gennady Golovkin and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez will attempt to settle their middleweight feud once and for all when they square off in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Golovkin's WBA and WBC titles are on the line but this is a fight and a rivalry about more than belts. This time, it's personal.
The split-decision draw returned in their initial meeting – thanks in part to Adalaide Byrd's bizarre 118-110 card in Alvarez's favour – left obvious unfinished business and mutual respect between the fighters has vanished since the original May 5 date for the return was put back.
That was down to Alvarez's two positive tests for clenbuterol, with Golovkin in no mood whatsoever to accept his foe's mitigating claim of having consumed contaminated meat.
Both men have pledged to go for the knockout, but who will have the last laugh and what are the keys to victory? Our men Dom Farrell and Peter Hanson have their say.
Before we preview ahead, let’s look back – who did you have winning the first meeting?
DF: I streamed the first fight on a laptop in my hotel room at 5am, four hours after getting in from a wedding. Even in those circumstances I think I had a far more lucid view of proceedings than Adalaide Byrd. I liked a lot of Canelo's work during the fight – it was generally cleaner and more clinical – but really struggled to make a case for him winning overall. Through my bleary eyes it was 115-113 to Golovkin.
PH: My vantage point was somewhat cosier, if no less bleary-eyed at the aforementioned silly o'clock in the morning, from the comfort of my own sofa. Byrd's nonsensical scoring aside, the bout really was a tough one to call and was a matter of style preference. Canelo's assertion that he won "seven or eight rounds" does not particularly ring true in my opinion. It's fair to say the Mexican showed his immense counter-attacking skill, soaking up GGG's power punches. But the fearsome Kazakh was the aggressor and, like Dom, I think he edged it 115-113.
Now we get to see it all over again, so how will the rematch differ?
DF: The deteriorating relations between both fighters in the build-up to this rematch and a desire to take the cards out of the equation after a contentious call last time around means the explosive trading that dazzled us all in round five could arrive much earlier this time around.
For Canelo, the key might be how well he finished the first fight. He began reading and nullifying GGG's relentless attacks. If the Kazakh doesn't make adjustments and Canelo can do this from the first bell on Saturday, he could soon establish a handy advantage.
Estamos listos nos vemos mañana en Las Vegas pic.twitter.com/k1CkqKjWLo— Canelo Alvarez (@Canelo) September 10, 2018
PH: It is nice on occasion when two fighters forego the theatrics and rigmarole and take a more respectful attitude to a fight, as witnessed between the two men in the first bout. But, who doesn't love a bit of animosity? And there is clearly no lack of dislike this time around.
The question for me is, can Canelo make the relative tweaks to his game plan from the first fight to show himself as the clear winner? His counter-punching, particularly the success with the left hook and right uppercut, were a trademark of the first encounter. But Golovkin is clearly riled. Sure, his career is reaching its twilight, but the fire is burning brighter than ever and with a few canny adjustments he takes the win this time around.
Is Canelo too small? Is GGG past his prime? What is the one deciding factor in the fight?
DF: The enforced delay in this rematch brought about by Canelo's suspension might have done the younger man a few favours. Golovkin is now 36 and the past couple of years have shown time could be catching up with a formidable fighter. GGG was caught cleanly and regularly by Kell Brook before the effects of a broken orbital bone put paid to the Briton's brave challenge in 2016, while Daniel Jacobs preceded Canelo by taking Golovkin the distance and winning his share of rounds.
May's two-round blowout against Vanes Martirosyan told us little and GGG is probably at the stage of his career where staving off decline is the best-case scenario.
PH: It's a bit of a damned if you, damned if you don't situation for Canelo. The impressive muscle mass on display during the first fight arguably nullified his speed. But even with the built-out physique he couldn't land a knockout blow. To get the win here, he has to be constantly on the move and outscore his more powerful opponent.
Is Golovkin the same fighter he was two years ago? No. Father Time catches up with us all in the end. But there is enough left in the tank for his fight. The deciding factor for me is that desire to put down a man for whom he has clearly lost any shred of respect.
And finally, your prediction (and will there be a trilogy)?
DF: Oscar de la Hoya talked about the possibility of a repeated rivalry along the lines of 'Sugar' Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta, but that's probably little more than fight-week bluster. On the contrary, I expect lessons learned from the last fight and GGG's advancing years to see Canelo ride out the storm to a narrow decision victory, before ignoring the clamour for a trilogy and moving on to other challenges.
Remember, Canelo vacated a title and moved down a division instead of fighting Golovkin in 2016. Unless he absolutely has to, I cannot imagine him fighting GGG again. Similarly, were Golovkin to win, he is unlikely to view offering a shot at redemption to a man he seemingly despises particularly favourably.
PH: The clamour for a rematch began almost from the second the first bout was announced as a contentious draw - it was a cop-out of a result. But the chances of a trilogy I would wager are pretty slim regardless of the outcome. GGG is 36 and will soon ride off into the sunset, while there are other challenges out there that many want to see Canelo take on.
As for who wins the fight, well it remains somewhat of a coin toss. But there's a steely desire around Golovkin, who I think will earn a narrow points victory.
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