Golovkin v Álvarez: a real deal after the sideshow
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