Boxing’s detractors normally exist outside of its four walls. Peering over on its grandest occasions to sneer that our sport is on life support.
Yet recent weeks, such detractors have been lauding the sweet science. Meanwhile, its the boxing loyalists have been turned into snarling cynical discontents as a result of the Mayweather vs McGregor farce.
But the torture of the last two months may be forgotten in the expected beautiful brutality of the 36 minutes – or less – that it takes to decide the Middleweight champion of the world in Saturday’s bout between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
There’s been little of the pomp and pageantry.
Mayweather vs McGregor needed it.
Canelo vs Golovkin doesn’t.
The promotional vignette harkens back to the old days of 30’s gangsters. The build up has followed the theme: In the old days of big fights, the fight eclipsed the build up.
The magnitude of this bought weighs heavy on boxing and the combatant’s shoulders. It’s a seminal moment in both of their careers.
Canelo has fought at this hallowed level before. He was tickled and tortured by one of boxing’s greats, Floyd Mayweather.
GGG has longed to be here. Prospective opponents abstention is offered as his reason for not stepping foot here prior. His career will be judged against the outcome of this fight.
For both, the prospective plaudits of victory here would consign their previous exploits to the back-room cupboard.
Scrutiny this Saturday night wears an amplifier.
Boxing, meanwhile, may crave an Alvarez victory. A GGG victory at age 35 may spell a short sojourn before long retirement. Alvarez is in his prime and can carry the sport on his shoulders for the best part of the next decade. His broad shoulders and straight-forward approach to bearing burdens make him the perfect advocate.
In spite of sportsbooks opening Canelo as 13/8 (+162) underdog our model disagrees. Intriguingly the BBG model we use to project fights has shown a SIGNIFICANT uptick in Canelo’s chances in the last 18 months.
GGG’s increase in level of opposition since September 2016 has shown some failings. Brook – a career welterweight – smaller than Golovkin and more compact had great success when throwing short, sharp combinations on the inside. Ultimately, GGG’s size, power and Brook’s Achilles heel – his orbital bone brittleness – proved his undoing.
In 2017, Canelo showed he could have success at above the middleweight level (164lbs) when he dominated Chavez using his jab, pacing and inside fighting.
Meanwhile, GGG was confused and bamboozled for long periods in his fight with Jacobs. Jacobs unorthodox approach, switching of stance, movement and size meant, for the first time in Golovkin’s career, there was a proportion of fans that thought he lost a pro-boxing match.
In fact in those 16 completed rounds against Brook and Jacobs, the judges only scored seven of the sixteen rounds for GGG.
A once irresistible force that had a 58% chance of defeating one of this era’s greats, was no longer just imposing himself on weaker opposition. And as Canelo’s frame grew so did his chances of victory.
Canelo Alvarez is one of the sport’s best technicians and is criminally under-rated. He throws beautiful combinations, pivoting seamlessly to throw to both body and head. He understands pacing and distance. How to use his lead hand to get in and out of the kill-zone.
His upper body movement may be the best in the sport. Bending from the waist with his head over his lead foot he was able to make Miguel Cotto miss over and over again with his patented left hook.
Canelo’s footwork, though, whilst competent technically, can be leaden at times. So moving away like Danny Jacobs did is out of the question.
His adversary, Golovkin, is a mid range hooker with a terrific battering-ram jab. He throws hooks in a variety of ways. Finishing with either the fist turned over or cupped. The delivery of the hook is also unique. Ironically thrown in a hugging motion it comes up before gathering velocity – with the aid of gravity – by finishing plummeting downwards. This angle of trajectory is so unusual that its hard to prepare for.
Close range, Willie Monroe, Kell Brook and Daniel Jacobs all showed his weakness. He’s prone to smothering his own work. With his long arms and tendency for hooks he needs room to gain leverage.
So both have a necessity to control distance.
Pace is less important. Both have stamina issues. Canelo due to his muscle mass and Golovkin to age and battle weariness.
And both can control distance. Golovkin with his jab. Canelo with his upper-body movement.
It makes for a fantastic match-up. And one we need. Sport and boxing always needs uncertainty to be existing.
I expect a cautious few initial rounds (despite the hyperbolic Hagler-Hearns comparisons). Rounds three to seven are crucial for both. This is when Golovkin is most potent. He’s lost only five rounds scored during this period and 20 of his 33 KOs (61%) have come during this time. Against ranked opponents this rises to 76%.
If Canelo survives this period, it will be because he’s closed the distance, avoided the ropes and taken the sting out of Golovkin’s tail. He’ll be on top and control the rest of the fight, winning a competitive and maybe controversial decision.
Canelo 6u to win @ 6/4
Canelo 3.4u to win by DEC @ 5/2
Other bouts on weekend of 16/09:
Slim pickings on the undercard. Joseph Diaz was initially penned in to face Jorge Lara but Lara’s since been injured. His replacement Rafael Rivera is sturdy and competent but poses little threat. We give Diaz an 82% chance of victory with a decision being the most likely method of victory (68%).
In the other bout being shown on Pay-per-view Randy Caballero takes on Diego de la Hoya. As with the Diaz/Rivera bout it seems to be priced efficiently. We give De la Hoya a 61% chance of victory.
Over in the UK, the great minds of British boxing think it’s a good idea to split the fanbase by having competing cards on the same night.
In Liverpool, the Super Middleweight version of the World Boxing Super Series opens with Britain’s Callum Smith taking on Erik Skoglund. And in London Billy Joe Saunders defends his WBO middleweight crown against Willie Monroe.
For projections on those and all other fights this weekend be sure to check out twitter handle @Richboxingbets.
Summary of Plays:
Canelo 6u to win @ 6/4
Canelo 3.4u to win by DEC @ 5/2