GOLOVKIN, AL­VAREZ CLASH IN VE­GAS

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LAS VE­GAS (AP) – It’s the kind of fight Gen­nady Golovkin has been chas­ing from the mo­ment he walked off an air­plane six years ago to make his new home in Los An­ge­les.

It’s the fight box­ing fans have been wait­ing for al­most as long.

Golovkin and Canelo Al­varez meet Satur­day night in a mid­dleweight show­down that has been brew­ing for years. They do it in their prime, and they both bring the kind of power that could make for a night that will be talked about in box­ing for years to come.

Three weeks af­ter Floyd May­weather Jr. and Conor McGre­gor met in an odd spec­ta­cle, box­ing shows off its best side in a sched­uled 12-round fight that will pay both men mil­lions and make one of them the undis­puted top 160-pounder in the world.

“It’s a true fight,” Golovkin said. “You can go back home or go to the hos­pi­tal. It’s dan­ger­ous. Ev­ery­one un­der­stands that.”

In­deed they do, which is one rea­son Golovkin has had trou­ble get­ting fight­ers in the ring with him. The fear­some slug­ger from Kaza­khstan has stopped al­most ev­ery­one put in the ring with him, win­ning all 37 of his fights, 33 by knock­out.

But Al­varez packs power, too, and the red-headed Mex­i­can is a sav­age coun­ter­puncher with a style that should match up per­fectly against the on­rush­ing Golovkin.

“I don’t back down,” Al­varez said. “I’m a counter puncher, and I like to fight.”

The com­bi­na­tion of styles has box­ing fans sali­vat­ing over what will hap­pen in the same ring where May­weather stopped McGre­gor three weeks ago. The fight quickly sold out and is ex­pected to do well on HBO pay-per-view, though it will not reach the level of last month’s spec­ta­cle.

Still, it prom­ises to be a can’t miss fight that brings back mem­o­ries of the great mid­dleweights of the 1980’s. Both fight­ers weighed in Fri­day at the mid­dleweight limit of 160 pounds.

“It all de­pends on who lands the punch that de­fines the fight and I think Gen­nady is go­ing to do that,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer. “They’re go­ing to hit each other and give fans the kind of fight they want and ex­pect.”

It won’t be the first time the two have met, but it will be un­der far dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances. They sparred to­gether at Golovkin’s camp in Big Bear, Calif., in 2011 as both were pre­par­ing for fights and, though ac­counts vary, both had their mo­ments with each other.

But this is a real fight, with Golovkin’s ti­tles at stake and a lot more. Both will make mil­lions of dol­lars in a fight that holds risks – and plenty of re­wards – for both of their ca­reers.

“These are the fights that de­fine your ca­reer,” said Os­car De La Hoya, who pro­motes Al­varez. “Both guys are not go­ing to back down.”

Al­varez is al­ready an es­tab­lished su­per­star, ar­guably the most pop­u­lar ath­lete in Mex­ico. Golovkin, who won a sil­ver medal in the 2004 Olympics, is hop­ing for the kind of per­for­mance that will fi­nally win over fans not overly im­pressed by a 23-fight knock­out streak of 18 mid­dleweight ti­tle de­fenses.

Be­tween them they have 86 wins, against only one loss. That was suf­fered by Al­varez (49-1-1, 34 knock­outs) in 2013 against May­weather in a fight he ad­mit­ted he was too young to take.

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