Golovkin and Canelo face off in a clash for the ages

Show­time in Las Ve­gas

Sport360 - - Front Page - Boxing with Andy Lewis b @AndyLewisAD * ed­i­to­rial@sport360.com

It is boxing’s ul­ti­mate irony that in this most sin­gu­lar, deeply in­di­vid­ual sporting quest, a fighter should rely so im­plic­itly on the ex­is­tence of a wor­thy ri­val to el­e­vate him to great­ness. Very few com­bat­ants earn ul­ti­mate re­spect with­out a neme­sis. Muham­mad Ali had Joe Fra­zier; Sugar Ray Robin­son had Jake LaMotta; Ray Leonard had Roberto Du­ran and Gen­nady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Al­varez have each other.

Such is the heady an­tic­i­pa­tion for tonight’s world mid­dleweight cham­pi­onship bout in Las Ve­gas that the op­ti­mistic among us are al­ready hop­ing that we get to see it more than once. Boxing oc­ca­sion­ally has a ten­dency to fall flat when it has the world’s at­ten­tion but this fight comes with as close to a guar­an­tee of ex­cite­ment as you can get.

In one cor­ner you have Golovkin, a beastly pres­sure fighter with awe­some knock­out power who turned the lights out on 23 straight op­po­nents be­fore in­con­ve­nienc­ing the judges last time out against Danny Ja­cobs. In the other you have Al­varez, plenty ag­gres­sive in his own right, but more known for his counter-punch­ing and suc­cess against those who come to him.

This fight is a mar­riage of two com­ple­men­tary styles and the re­sult should be spectacular. What will likely start as a tac­ti­cal bat­tle will in­evitably give way to bru­tal back and forth ac­tion down the stretch.

Added in­trigue comes from a pre-fight nar­ra­tive sug­gest­ing Golovkin, at 35, has lost a step, while Al­varez, eight years his ju­nior, is peak­ing at just the right time. Whether you be­lieve ei­ther state­ment, it means the bout is seen as 50-50 ahead of the open­ing bell at the T-Mo­bile Arena.

The no­tion that Golovkin is in de­cline comes from the pun­ish­ment he shipped on his way to a fifth round stop­page of Kell Brook, be­fore see­ing his KO streak ended by a res­o­lute Ja­cobs in March.

How­ever, logic would sug­gest that Brook, a quick-handed nat­u­ral wel­ter­weight, was al­ways go­ing to land some eye-catch­ing shots given his mas­sive ad­van­tage in speed, and it shouldn’t be for­got­ten Golovkin walked right through them and then lit­er­ally broke Brook’s face. And to den­i­grate his last per­for­mance is to ig­nore Ja­cobs’ bril­liant ef­fort, not to men­tion the sig­nif­i­cant size and reach ad­van­tage the Amer­i­can en­joyed.

In con­trast, the be­lief is that the best ever ver­sion of Canelo will step into the ring tonight fol­low­ing im­pres­sive vic­to­ries over Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, Liam Smith and Julio Ce­sar Chavez Jr. The counter to that is that none of those op­po­nents could pos­si­bly pre­pare him for Golovkin. The Kazakh could prob­a­bly beat Khan, Smith and Chavez on the same night. Con­versely, how would Canelo fare against Brook and Ja­cobs?

The form book may not be en­tirely trust­wor­thy, but it’s hard to imag­ine this be­ing any­thing other than a tense, elite match-up be­tween two men who boast im­mense ring gen­er­al­ship.

Per­haps the big­gest con­cern for the Kazakh will be the pres­ence of Dave Moretti and Adalaide Byrd among the three ring­side judges. Moretti has form for lean­ing heav­ily in Canelo’s favour while Byrd has a rep­u­ta­tion for er­ratic scor­ing.

Con­tro­versy would of course fuel in­ter­est in a sec­ond in­stal­ment but this match-up de­serves bet­ter. A far more de­sir­able out­come would be that it is so explosive the pub­lic sim­ply de­mands to see it again.

Boxing’s most iconic mo­ments have been forged in the strug­gles of fa­mil­iar foes – tonight we could see the start of an­other spe­cial ri­valry.

Boxing has a ten­dency to fall flat when it has the world’s at­ten­tion but this fight comes with as close to a guar­an­tee of ex­cite­ment as you can get

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