Unless you are a fan with a mere casual interest in Boxing, one would likely say that one of the most heated rivalry that the sport has seen in the last decade has been between two of Boxing’s biggest stars. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “ GGG” Golovkin. Two fighters that with the exception of two fights against each other have dominated most of their opposition over that span of time.
As is the case with most rivalries, the first fight between the two in September 2017 was much anticipated. While such anticipation can at times be the type that is manufactured in that it is built up in such a way to make a fight appear bigger than it actually is in terms of what is at stake and the ramifications therein for a division and the sport as a whole, the anticipation for the first fight between these two stars was organic and did not need such hype tactics. This was due to Gennady Golovkin carving out what this observer referred to as “A Path Of Destruction” through the 160lb. Middleweight division in not only winning and successfully unifying most of the world championships in the division, but also compiling a lengthy knockout streak that extended to twenty-three consecutive knockouts before he was extended a twelve round distance by former Middleweight world champion Daniel Jacobs.
Even though Jacobs took Golovkin the distance in a unification bout, Golovkin’s reputation as a feared “Knockout Artist” was cemented. For Saul Alvarez, his star had risen as an attraction through two weight classes and he briefly held a version of the World Middleweight championship prior to taking on Golovkin. In some ways, the way Alvarez rose to be one of Boxing’s top stars was reminiscent of his longtime now former promoter Oscar De La Hoya. As De La Hoya had done virtually his entire career as a fighter, Alvarez has built a reputation for taking on the best fighters of his era. Even though such a mentality is not always appreciated among an often fickle fan base, and that did not always work to De La Hoya’s benefit, like his former promoter, Alvarez likes challenges. It was not a surprise to see Alvarez wanting to fight Golovkin as the fight was made in a much shorter time frame as compared to other bouts throughout the history of the sport that had the similar “Big Fight” anticipation.
Another positive in a sport seemingly full of negatives was the actual fight did not disappoint in terms of what happened inside the ring. Fight one had elements of both tactical Boxing as well as two fighters willing to stand and trade punches. I felt the first encounter was largely dictated by Golovkin being able to use a power jab. There were several rounds throughout this bout that his jab was his primary weapon and I felt that it not only served as an effective weapon, but also was what dictated the combat. As the fight went on Golovkin’s gradual pressure as well as seeming to land the harder punches appeared to give him what I felt was a clear victory in a highly competitive bout as I scored it nine rounds to three or 117-111 in his favor.
While the result of that fight proved to be a draw, many including yours truly felt that Golovkin got the better of Alvarez. Such an opinion coupled with an inconclusive verdict from the three official judges provided the ideal set up for a rematch. As most know, there was a temporary delay in the rematch taking place as the original spring 2018 date was postponed following Alvarez testing positive for a banned substance clenbuterol resulting in a suspension and a delay of the rematch. The suspension, which Alvarez has always maintained was a result of eating contaminated meat in his native Mexico, nevertheless created bad blood between the fighters and their respective camps. The delay would end almost exactly one year following the first fight. In fight two, we saw a different approach from both fighters.
While in fight one Alvarez used his movement to try and evade Golovkin, the second fight saw him willing to stand and engage more. Golovkin meanwhile did not apply the type of consistent pressure that he had done in the first fight. He seemed to implement a more tactical Boxing approach in the rematch and while this appeared to benefit Alvarez, I felt Golovkin still did enough to earn a decision victory by dictating the fight as well as using a consistent jab throughout. Golovkin also seemed to land the harder punches of the two. Although I ended up scoring the second fight 116-112 or eight rounds to four in favor of Golovkin, the tactical pace in which the second fight was fought resulted in many of the rounds being close. The end result was Alvarez being declared the winner via twelve round majority decision.
Despite a victor being declared in the second fight, the result, much like the draw between the two in the first encounter not only left a bad taste in the mouths of many Boxing fans who felt that Golovkin had done enough to win it, it also left matters unsettled. In the four years since their last meeting, both fighters have achieved considerable success. Golovkin would eventually regain a portion of the World Middleweight championship and go on to partially unify it as he had done prior to losing to Alvarez in the second fight. Alvarez meanwhile would win world titles in both the Light-Heavyweight and Super-Middleweight divisions, the latter of which he would ultimately unify to become the first undisputed world champion in the history of the Super-Middleweight division.
Now over five years since their first encounter, Alvarez and Golovkin will renew their rivalry for their long anticipated third meeting on Saturday, September 17th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. A fight that can be seen in many countries on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN as part of a standard monthly or annual subscription or on DAZN Pay-Per-View in select countries including the United States and Canada.
While the third bout comes largely based on the closeness of the first two bouts, there are slight differences this time around. First among those differences is that Golovkin will be moving up eight pounds to the Super-Middleweight division to challenge Alvarez for his undisputed crown. Although he has been unbeaten since the disputed loss to Alvarez, Golovkin is now forty years old and has experienced some difficulty in recent fights that has given an impression at least to some that he might be on the decline. This impression seemed to begin when Golovkin first regained a portion of the World Middleweight championship in a back and forth battle with Sergiy Derrevyanchenko in 2019 when it appeared that Golovkin was severely affected by body shots Derrevyanchenko was able to land throughout the bout. Even though Derrevyanchenko is the only fighter to have gone the distance with Golovkin since he returned to the ring earlier that year in Golovkin’s four bouts since the second fight against Alvarez, the perception among some is that Derrevyanchenko was able to expose a weakness in Golovkin that others have subsequently tried to exploit. This could well be the strategy of Saul Alvarez going into this third fight as he aims for a more conclusive victory.
Perhaps the biggest wrinkle going into chapter three of Alvarez vs. Golovkin is that, despite being considered the underdog going into this fight, it is the champion Alvarez who will enter the bout coming off a loss. As most know, Alvarez failed in his bid to become a two-time Light-Heavyweight world champion when he lost a unanimous decision to undefeated WBA world champion Dmitry Bivol in May of this year. Bivol out boxed Alvarez over twelve rounds and, despite the fight appearing to clearly be in favor of Bivol, Alvarez did not respond to the loss well.
With that in mind, there are two things that interests this observer heading into this third encounter knowing the questions that surround both fighters. Will the loss to Bivol influence how Alvarez fights this time, will be more aggressive rather than looking to score points with the intention of trying to win a decision. Will the bad blood between the two also mean that Alvarez will be less tactical in his approach this time around against Golovkin? Did Gennady Golovkin see anything in his two bouts against Alvarez and/or in Alvarez’ loss to Bivol that he can exploit this time?
Having covered the previous two fights, in terms of approach, there is one aspect that Golovkin neglected in fight two that may have been the difference in the outcome. Although I felt that he still dictated the action and generally controlled the second fight, Golovkin neglected to focus a consistent attack to Alvarez’ body and I feel that if he wants to even the score this time he needs to both implement a consistent body attack as well as try to apply pressure and cut the ring off from Alvarez, something he also did not do much of in the second encounter.
One thing that has not been discussed too much as this fight approaches is what will the effect of weight be on both fighters. Alvarez is moving back down to 168lbs. from the 175lb Light-Heavyweight division. Despite that he has moved up and down the weight scale depending on opportunity, the question of what impact that will eventually have on him physically is a fair one to ask.
By the same token, even though Golovkin still holds three Middleweight world championships going into this fight, the question in addition to his age that should be asked is whether or not what may seem like signs of decline in recent fights might have been due in part to trying to maintain his weight at the 160lb. Middleweight limit. As a fighter ages, it can be more difficult to maintain weight due to both physical changes as well as the wear and tear that often comes with a long career in the sport. This leads to many fighters who are not natural Heavyweights looking to move up in weight as their careers progress in addition to whatever opportunities might be available to them in a different weight class because the heavier weight is often more comfortable physically as opposed to what a body goes through when one tries to cut weight to a weight limit that may not be beneficial for them as they get older. Whether or not Golovkin ends up being more comfortable at 168lbs. remains to be seen.
Despite the criticism of some that the third fight is coming too late as far as the perceived competitiveness that can be expected and from à business standpoint for DAZN choosing to put this bout on pay-per-view when their first offering on pay-per-view the Bivol-Alvarez bout back in May did not perform well with some estimates putting total buys between 300,000 and 600,000 at a $59.99 price point for current DAZN subscribers and $79.99 for non-subscribers, if there is a positive spin one can put on this is that the third fight comes not too far beyond the second fight in that there are some instances where fights that are highly anticipated take several years to make in terms of a single bout as was the case with the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout or many years between fights as was the case with the third bout between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran in December 1989 having taken place nine years after their second bout. In both cases, the bouts failed to live up to the expectations that some Boxing fans had and in the case of Mayweather-Pacquiao created a backlash and in some cases litigation due to that bout being offered at an asinine price point of over $90 on pay-per-view not including taxes and other fees.
While that should have been a cautionary tale for every promoter and network that relies on the pay-per-view model, DAZN has insisted that their use of the model will be sporadic. Although the ills of the pay-per-view model is something that warrants continued discussion and criticism until such time as significant change occurs throughout the entire sport, from a Boxing standpoint, one can hope that this fight will not be a disappointment in terms of what happens inside the ring. Depending on what does happen, one should not discount the possibility of a potential fourth fight between the two, especially if Golovkin evens the score in this fight.
‘And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Alvarez vs. Golovkin III takes place on Saturday, September 17th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The bout can be seen in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom on DAZN Pay-Per-View for $64.99 for current subscribers and $84.99 for non-subscribers with a one month subscription to DAZN included with purchase. (U.S. Prices Only) DAZN Pay-Per-View is available through the DAZN streaming app on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices, platforms, and Smart TVs. The fight will be available in select countries as part of a standard DAZN streaming subscription. Those wishing to not order through DAZN can contact their cable/satellite provider for availability. DAZN will present a full day of coverage leading up to the event beginning with the DAZN Boxing Show at 2PM ET/11AM PT. Preliminary bouts will begin at 4:45PM ET/1:45PM PT. The main pay-per-view card will begin at 8PM ET/5PM PT. (U.S. Times Only)
For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, availability around the world, pay-per-view access/availability in your region, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.
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