Al­varez sees knock­out, a great fight against Golovkin

The Garden Island - - Morning Briefing - Tim Dahlberg

LAS VE­GAS — Canelo Al­varez was just Saul Al­varez back then, a red-haired 15-year-old who wanted noth­ing more than to make some money box­ing.

He got his chance on a sum­mer night in 2005 in a sub­urb of Guadala­jara, Mex­ico, where he grew up. His op­po­nent was an­other teenager named Abra­ham Gon­za­lez, but he could have been any­one.

Al­varez showed some po­ten­tial by stop­ping Gon­za­lez in fourth round. Af­ter­ward he col­lected his first real pay­day.

“Eighty pe­sos,” Al­varez re­called this week. “I think it was like $6.”

A dozen years later, the pay has got­ten a lot bet­ter. On Satur­day night Al­varez will make mil­lions as he meets knock­out spe­cial­ist Gen­nady Golovkin in a mid­dleweight show­down that box­ing purists are com­par­ing to some of the di­vi­sion’s great fights of years past .

Some 40 mil­lion of his coun­try­men are ex­pected to be watch­ing on tele­vi­sion as the fighter who is ar­guably Mex­ico’s big­gest sports hero takes on the fear­some Golovkin in a fight that could de­fine the ca­reer of both fighters. The fight will be tele­vised on HBO pay-per-view in the U.S.

“This is for my coun­try and my peo­ple,” Al­varez said. “Sim­ply put, the peo­ple wanted this fight.”

It won’t be a fight for the faint of heart. Golovkin had a 23-fight knock­out streak be­fore go­ing the dis­tance in his last fight, while Al­varez is a mas­ter­ful coun­ter­puncher who is not afraid to mix it up.

Be­tween them they have only one loss in 88 fights. Al­varez suf­fered it in 2013 against Floyd May­weather Jr. in a fight he ad­mit­ted he took too early in his ca­reer.

By con­trast, he may have waited un­til just the right time to fight Golovkin. Al­varez and his pro­moter, Os­car De La Hoya, were widely crit­i­cized for avoid­ing Golovkin for the last two years, but now Al­varez has grown into a fullfledged mid­dleweight and both fighters seem to be in their prime.

There shouldn’t be many sur­prises. And there will cer­tainly be no ex­cuses.

“My men­tal­ity is 100 per­cent to win,” Al­varez said. “Every night be­fore I go to bed I vi­su­al­ize a knock­out.”

Al­varez has been on the big stage be­fore. He and May­weather de­liv­ered more than 2 mil­lion payper-view buys in their fight, and he has con­sis­tently drawn big crowds and big tele­vi­sion num­bers over the last five years.

He’s done beer com­mer­cials with Sylvester Stal­lone, col­lected multi-mil­lion dol­lar purses, and es­tab­lished him­self as the lat­est in a long suc­ces­sion of ag­gres­sive Mex­i­can fighters.

If he can beat Golovkin — and he’s a slight un­der­dog — he’ll have a hand­ful of cham­pi­onship belts and a sig­na­ture win that will res­onate through­out the sport. It’s some­thing he thought would hap­pen if he beat May­weather, but at 23, he wasn’t ready for the de­fen­sive mas­ter.

“Most def­i­nitely I was too young and it showed,” Al­varez said through an in­ter­preter. “I don’t take it to­day as a de­feat but as an ex­pe­ri­ence. I learned a lot from that fight.”

In Golovkin, Al­varez will be fight­ing a boxer who hasn’t lost since the gold medal match in the 2004 Olympics. He’ll also be fac­ing a slug­ger who has 33 knock­outs in 37 fights and is de­fend­ing his mid­dleweight ti­tles for the 19th time.

But Golovkin looked some­what vul­ner­a­ble in his last fight, where he went 12 rounds with Danny Ja­cobs. He won, but the fight that may have con­vinced De La Hoya to risk his most mar­ketable fighter against Triple G.

No one on ei­ther side ex­pects it to be easy.

“He has a very ag­gres­sive style. He comes to search and de­stroy and he comes in search of a knock­out,” Al­varez said. “You know me, I don’t back down. I’m a counter puncher and I like to fight. It has all the in­gre­di­ents to be one of the best fights ever.”

Whether the fight will de­liver the clas­sic ev­ery­one ex­pects re­mains to be seen. But it has brought talk of great mid­dleweight fights from the 1980s, in­clud­ing Tommy Hearns ver­sus Mar­velous Marvin Ha­gler and Ha­gler against Sugar Ray Leonard.

Leonard posted a video on Twit­ter this week giv­ing his thoughts on the out­come.

“I give a slight edge to Triple G be­cause of his sheer punch­ing power with both hands,” Leonard said. “Canelo has to fight the best fight of his life, just like when I fought Ha­gler. I had to be tech­ni­cally sharp, strate­gi­cally sharp and smart.”


Canelo Al­varez, left, and Gen­nady Golovkin pose for pho­tog­ra­phers dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day in Las Ve­gas.


Keanu Saito dur­ing the Waimea Town Cel­e­bra­tion re­gatta in Fe­bru­ary.

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