This Sunday, September 16 (Manila time), undisputed middleweight champion Gennady "GGG" Golovkin and Mexican superstar Saul "Canelo" Alvarez will face each other in a rematch of last year's boxing megabout that ended in a hotly contested draw. When we did a primer for their first encounter, picking a winner was as tough as coming to terms with the ballooning prices at the market. We figured that it was a 50-50 fight, and the result validated our assessment. Now, considering everything that had transpired within, and after, the stalemate, we're a little more confident leaning towards one fighter to take the W.
Here are the reasons that got us to pick a side this time around:
After watching their first tiff several times, the persistent conclusion is that Alvarez got the early rounds. GGG owned the middle frames. And the final stanzas were stolen by Canelo. Basically, it looked like Gennady can't help but let what would've been a decisive win slip by, while Canelo showed that he had enough in his tank to finish with guns blazing. Talking about in-ring advantages, the they simply offset each. Golovkin's got the upperhand in timing and power but Canelo's got the speed and quickness department locked down. And so, we look into the X-factor, which we believe is the reservoir that contains all of the fighter's extra, in terms of stamina, toughness, and will to win. In the most crucial stage of the match, it was Canelo who proved he had the deeper reserve—an edge he will likely carry over in the encore.
The doping scandal
Golovkin-Alvarez 2 was supposed to happen earlier this year but it almost got KO'd when Canelo tested positive for a banned substance called Clenbuterol. As a result, Alvarez served a suspension and received a tongue-lashing from the GGG camp. At first glance, you'd think this SMH-worthy incident is a distraction bad enough to foil Canelo's preparations for the rematch, as well as a motivation for the Kazakh King Kong to lay waste on everything he sees. But hey, things could work in favor of Canelo as well. How? One, he could use the doping mishap—which he attributes to unintentionally consuming contaminated meat—as an inspiration in regaining his reputation as a clean fighter. The additional fuel might just be the thing he needs to get past his rival. And two, the thought that Canelo's on juice might play tricks on GGG's head and throw him off his game plan, nothwistanding the former's subsequent negative tests. It's another draw for Alvarez and Golovkin in this arena.
Room for improvement
In a prefect world, GGG would work his ass off in trying to improve his speed and acquiring a more fluid, fast-paced attacking style as he eyes for a signature triumph. The reality, however is GGG will be the same fighter in the do-over as he was last year. At best, he might just have a stronger start. GGG is a relentless, powerful boxer with excellent timing. He will overwhelm you with his weapons but he's not multi-dimensional. It's highly questionable that he can suddenly turn into a well-rounded fighter. On the other hand or corner for this matter, Canelo doesn't need to be in a perfect world to get better at the elements that will lift him to victory. He should do the same things he did the last time but sharper—box, unleash combos, and slug it out selectively. His stamina must also increase if he is to execute the winning strategy for the entire fight, not just in portions. Evidently, with his youth and athleticism, Canelo is the guy more likey show significant improvements come fight time.
Perhaps the biggest moments of Golovkin-Alvarez 1 happened when the two warriors took each other's best shots, and just shrugged them off like they were nothing. Canelo's man of steel moment came in Round 5 while Gennady channeled the Terminator in the ninth canto. Yes, GGG is the more fearsome puncher but Canelo's got dynamite fists too, so both displays of durability were equally impressive. On that note, you've got to understand that it's highly probable that the reprise will also go the distance. And if it does indeed reach the full 12 rounds, you've got to bet on the guy who can score more and evade punches using his quicker hands and feet. Canelo's got the better hand and foot speed, thus he can pile up the points with combinations and have GGG chase him if he chooses to. Alvarez by decision isn't such a bad gamble at all.
Age isn't always just a number
Canelo is 28, GGG is 36. We could stop right there and you could already make a smart pick. That being said, Gennady has yet to show any glaring signs of decline. However, Father Time can come gradually and it can arrive faster than a Muhammad Ali jab. We won't be totally surprised if GGG looks old and slow on the 16th. Nonetheless, whether GGG's in perfect shape or not, Canelo being the younger lion can only be beneficial to the latter. Team Golovkin is probably hoping that Alvarez's year of inactivity, due to the drug suspension, would cancel out his youth advantage. But it's difficult to count on that as Canelo has likely spent all of his free time inside the gym, knowing he's about to face an absolute monster. It's possible that GGG might have one last vintage performance left and he may pull it out against Canelo—it's just that the thought of his age catching up with him can't be ignored.
Well, do we need to spell out who we think will get his hand raised at the end of it all?