Canelo-Golovkin 2 Preview: Can Canelo Alvarez improve enough to defeat Gennady Golovkin?
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: September 13, 2018
This weekend among the bright lights of Las Vegas, Nevada the most significant boxing match of the year will take place. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) will step in the ring with Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) for middleweight (160) supremacy. The two men first faced each other last September in a bout that was controversially declared a draw. A rematch was originally to have taken place this past May, but a failed drug test on Alvarez’s behalf caused the bout to be postponed to September following a six-month suspension for the Mexican fighter.
Since the failed drug test Alvarez has faced a massive amount of scrutiny and there are many fans and pundits who do not believe that the failed test was due to eating tainted meat in Mexico. Regardless, of those accusations, Alvarez will get his opportunity to prove his mettle when he steps in the ring against Golovkin. In addition, to having to prove to fans that he was not and is not a dirty fighter he has the task of facing an opponent whom out landed him for 10 of the 12 rounds the first time they met.
By the time the first bell rings it will have been almost a year to the day since Alvarez has stepped inside the squared circle making it the longest layoff of the 28-year-olds career. At Alvarez’s level, it is likely that he and his team have taken the necessary precaution’s to help combat any signs of rust playing a factor in the match. However, with the rematch seemingly being more of a grudge match, as the two men have grown increasingly annoyed and distraught with one another, Golovkin may start off the fight much quicker than he did last September.
The majority of the punches landed by Golovkin in the first bout with Alvarez was his jab. The Kazakhstani puncher currently has the best jab in boxing as he lands an average of 10.4 jabs per round and landed 108 out of 361 total jabs at a 33.7 percent connect rate against Alvarez in their first encounter. To win the rematch, Alvarez will need to find a way to alleviate the effects of Golovkin’s jab by either establishing his own jab or countering Golovkin’s jab to make him wary of throwing it as much.
While Golovkin’s jab was effective against Alvarez, his body punching was not nearly as effective. Golovkin landed only 8 out of 218 thrown body punches in the first fight with Alvarez. This may have been due to Alvarez’s counters up top or Golovkin showing too much respect for the Mexican’s punching power. Alvarez, on the other hand, was able to land 44 out of 169 total body punches at a 26 percent connect rate. Alvarez usually throws on average 29.3 percent body punches of his total punches. With the Kazahkstani seemingly having a chin made of granite, the trend of landing a vast amount of body punches needs to continue for Alvarez to be successful in the rematch.
Arguably, the most crucial area in which Alvarez needs to improve is his conditioning. For years, Alvarez has been known for taking rounds off or resting for half of some rounds. In the first fight with Golovkin, Alvarez had a late surge in the final three rounds where he landed his highest number of power punches in the fight. However, in the middle rounds of four through nine, Alvarez allowed Golovkin to throw more punches and take control of the bout. In the rematch, Alvarez will need to increase his volume of punches to clearly take rounds from Golovkin who will always be more than willing to play the role of the aggressor. The output that Alvarez showed in the final three rounds specifically in rounds 10 and 12 is something the Mexican fighter has to employ in a majority of the rounds to gain a victory.
Fortunately for Alvarez, accuracy is not an issue. In the first bout with Golovkin, he landed at a higher percentage in 11 of the 12 rounds landing 42 percent of his power punches. Should Alvarez increase his level of volume, it is possible that his accuracy goes down. However, it’s vital that consistency in each round be part of the game plan for Alvarez.
The now aforementioned bad blood between the two combatants could be deceiving. Animosity doesn’t equate to bloodshed; however, it could lead to one fighter willing to make certain adjustments that the other is not willing or able to make.
Win or lose, Alvarez who is still under 30 years of age will have a future in the sport. What will change with a loss will be the perception of Canelo's placement in boxing. Should he falter, Alvarez could be remembered by many as a good fighter that became massively popular but never became great. A victory will put him in line to claim this era as his when he decides to hang up the gloves finally.
This Saturday night represents a crossroad for both men. Unless another a draw is scored, neither man will leave the ring the same. Alvarez at this point of his career can make the necessary adjustments to have his hand raised in victory. Whether he can apply those improvements will be seen on September 15th.
(Featured Photo: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos)