Golovkin v Ál­varez: a real deal af­ter the sideshow

The Guardian - Sport - - Boxing -

His chief frus­tra­tion is that the fight should have been made a long time ago. The sit­u­a­tion re­sem­bles the five-year wait fans had to en­dure for May­weather to agree to meet Manny Pac­quiao – and the in­evitabil­ity of the even­tual fight be­ing a dis­ap­point­ment.

“I know him a long time,” Golovkin says of Ál­varez. “He’s been inside the same weight the last cou­ple of years. He [could fight] any­body. I want this fight since [Ál­varez beat Miguel Cotto for the WBC mid­dleweight ti­tle in Novem­ber] 2015. I was in the manda­tory po­si­tion.”

Ál­varez in­stead de­fended against and stopped Amir Khan, then Liam Smith. Golovkin, mean­while, en­ter­tained Kell Brook, then had his tough­est night in a while last March be­fore beat­ing Daniel Ja­cobs to keep his un­beaten record in­tact. But it has been the Mex­i­can’s team (rather than the fighter) who have pro­cras­ti­nated, claim­ing he was not big enough for Golovkin.

Six years ago, Ál­varez beat Matthew Hatton and Ryan Rhodes back-to-back at light-mid­dleweight; the sug­ges­tion that he has not moved up be­cause he is not big enough is palpable non­sense. When he knocked out Khan at an agreed 155lbs, he en­tered the ring a day-anda-half af­ter the Fri­day weigh-in 35lbs heav­ier than the Bri­tish chal­lenger. In May, he out­pointed Julio César Chávez at su­per-mid­dleweight and, face to face, he looks rock solid at 160lbs.

The man Golovkin blames for the de­lay is Os­car De la Hoya, the pro­moter. But the for­mer six-weight world cham­pion does not see it that way. He reck­ons Ál­varez has grown into the weight and now is the per­fect time for them to meet. There are many who sus­pect De la Hoya has dragged his feet to al­low Golovkin to get a lit­tle older, more vul­ner­a­ble. At 34, Golovkin is seven years older than Ál­varez, even though the Mex­i­can, who started box­ing for money at 15, has had 51 fights: one more than the 41-year-old and newly re­tired May­weather – and, more sur­pris­ingly, 14 more than the Kazakh.

“There are fight­ers who need a good danc­ing part­ner,” the Golden Boy boss in­sists. “Canelo against Golovkin will go down in his­tory for many years to come. It will be talked about for many years, just like Hearns and Ha­gler is still be­ing talked about, like Su­gar Ray Leonard with Hearns is still be­ing talked about.”

What­ever the rea­son for the wait, this is the most equal match-up out there, in nearly any di­vi­sion, and the most ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated. Golovkin was not wor­ried about be­ing ac­claimed as the best, pound-for-pound, in his sport. “There are so many great box­ers, dif­fer­ent styles.” It is his first fight in Ve­gas, but that is not a con­sid­er­a­tion for him, either. “Ve­gas, New York … it’s just an­other ring.”

He agreed, though, that this could be a, “his­tory fight’, one to set along­side the mem­o­rable mid­dleweight matches of the past. Golovkin says he watched those two won­der­ful fight­ers, along with Su­gar Ray Leonard and Roberto Du­ran, on TV, when he was a small boy in Kaza­khstan.

“I’m old school: just one cham­pion. Four cham­pi­ons? No. This is the first step,” he said, re­fer­ring to their jour­ney along that road to great­ness. “I be­lieve we will have a sec­ond step, a sec­ond fight, maybe more.”

At the moment, Golovkin is the man. Re­gard­less of who wins, if the fight lives up to ex­pec­ta­tions, Golovkin’s de­sire for a tril­ogy with Ál­varez will be a re­al­ity. What a prospect that is.

Satur­day’s fight be­tween Saul ‘Canelo’ Ál­varez, left, and Gen­nady Golovkin, is a po­ten­tial clas­sic

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