Every now and again, if you’ve been around this sport for a while, you get a “sense” of when a fighter might be in danger if he keeps going. Kazakhstan’s former multiple world champion, Gennady Golovkin, falls into that ignominious category for me.
Yes, yes, I know he decimated the Pole, Kamil Szeremeta, in 7 rounds at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida, just this past December, but with all due respect to Szeremeta, he had absolutely nobody on his 21 – 0 record going into his fight with GGG. About the only truly recognizable name would be a way, way, way past his prime Kamil Oussa. The Ugandan was barely recognizable as the man who won the IBF version of the Light Middleweight crown over Verno Phillips, 12 ½ years prior, when he lost a 10-round UD to Szeremeta.
So, the fact that Gennady Golovkin prevailed over the Pole was hardly surprising to many. What is surprising to a few of us is that many see this last win by Golovkin as justification to call for the 3rd fight to create a trilogy against the Mexican, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. In my eyes, this is nothing short of madness! It really makes me wonder if the people calling for this fight truly appreciate what we are seeing in Canelo.
For my money, Alvarez is on the verge of being included in the conversation about all-time greats. He’s fantastic! Right now, he is on an entirely different planet from any other boxer currently plying his trade, and is the consensus “P4P” best fighter in the world. Alvarez just recently absolutely dominated the excellent and very brave Callum Smith – a fighter on a totally different level from Szeremeta.
Those calling for this 3rd match refer to this concept of “unfinished business” between the two men, and on some level, I understand why. Their first bout in 2017, ended in a pretty controversial draw. While I thought Alvarez did enough to win, I had no trouble understanding why many felt the opposite was true, and I found a “draw” to be a palatable result.
The rematch held exactly one year later, in 2018, saw Alvarez get the nod in what was a much different fight. For me, the only controversy in this one was that it was a majority draw, as I had Canelo as the winner going away. Still, there were many who felt that GGG had been “robbed” a second time and it is these folks who are clamoring for this 3rd bout.
Okay, I get it….but hold on…reality check time. There are several reasons why this fight is a very bad idea for Golovkin:
- Golovkin, even in the eyes of his most generous and ardent admirer, is, at the very best, the same fighter he was when they had their first two bouts. Personally, I think he has lost a step, but okay, for the sake of argument, I’ll grant that he’s the same old GGG. That cannot be said of Alvarez. Canelo has improved dramatically since then. His footwork is better. His punching power is greatly improved. Don’t think so? Have a look again at what he did to the excellent and much bigger Sergey Kovalev, to win the Light Heavyweight title.
His reflexes are better and he’s just quicker in the ring. His stamina – always good – is now that of a tri-athlete combined with a boxer. The man never seems to tire. But most significantly, his ring I.Q. has increased dramatically. He has become a master tactician in the squared circle. Folks, Alvarez is the real deal. He is very, very dangerous.
- Alvarez, at 30-years-old, is at his absolute physical peak. Golovkin, at 38, is 8 years older. At their respective ages, that’s huge in boxing! Father Time is the one opponent none of us can beat. Golovkin is no exception. I think we all saw this in his fight with Derevyanchenko. The fight was an absolute war, and for many of us, it was the first time we hade ever seen Golovkin really hurt.
- The purse split for Golovkin will not be as it was in their first two fights. In those first two fights, one could argue that they were relatively equal draws. In their first fight, GGG was paid $3 million to Alvarez’s $4 million. In their second fight, GGG got $4 million to Alvarez’s $5 million. (An aside, please note that these figures do not factor in their cuts from the PPV revenues) That’s not going to be the case in a third fight, if it happens. Alvarez is arguably the biggest name and draw in boxing at the moment. He will command the lion’s share of the purse. Golovkin might earn about 20% of the purse – small money given the beating he’s probably going to take.
Now I can hear GGG’s fans already. “Dave, you’re wrong. He’s still one of the best.” No arguments from me there. Listen to what I am saying very carefully, Yes, he may very well still be one of the best. Hell, Callum Smith is “one of the best” – and we know how that turned out, don’t we? But Alvarez isn’t one of the best; he is THE best – and by a lot!
I keep going back and looking at the Alvarez/GGG fights and the more recent Alvarez/Smith and GGG/Szeremeta bouts. I urge you to do the same.
Try to be objective as possible. Watch them in their entirety. Now tell me that you truly believe that this 38-year-old Gennady Golovkin can beat the current version of Saul Alvarez? With apologies to Golovkin and his legion of fans and supporters, I just can’t see it.