Boxing fans are in for a fistic fiesta when two big fights unfold this weekend. Over in Las Vegas, Nevada, Gennady Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will finally slug it out Sunday (Manila time) for the middleweight (160 lbs.) marbles while closer to home, at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City, reigning world junior flyweight champ Milan Melindo will make his initial IBF title defense Saturday against plucky South African challenger Hekkie Budler.
Golovkin-Alvarez is getting the lion’s share of the spotlight and rightfully so considering that it has been some time since a fight of this magnitude has been set up. The combatants are in their prime years and their fighting styles suggest that a memorable brawl is in the offing.
Alvarez (49-1, 34 knockouts) is younger (27) and offers impressive combination punching and handspeed, but he has never faced a pressure fighter with the paralyzing power of Golovkin (37-0, 33 knockouts).
Alvarez initially hedged on fighting Golovkin, but after seeing the latter struggle to a decision win against Daniel Jacobs in March, the Mexican’s camp was apparently convinced that Golovkin is not invincible. Of course, not a few believe this observation is not entirely accurate considering that Jacobs, despite rehydrating to 170 pounds (almost a light heavyweight) after the weigh-in, was still knocked down by Golovkin. Still, Alvarez makes for a tough nut to crack and coming in many actually believe he has upgraded his skills while Golovkin’s have levelled off.
Truth be told, the fight is a pick ‘em affair, but Golovkin still gets the slight edge from where this writer sits. Golovkin will have to put the pressure on, wear down Alvarez with his thudding jab and short, ripping punches. Defensively, Alvarez is the better fighter, but it remains to be seen if he can take the punch of a legitimate middleweight like Golovkin. The pick is Golovkin by stoppage within nine rounds.
Over in Cebu, a day before Golovkin-Alvarez, junior fly king Melindo (36-2, 13 knockouts) makes his first defense of the 108-pound crown against former WBA minimumweight (105 lbs.) champ Budler. It took Melindo three attempts to become a world champion and the big question now is if he can make it past his first defense.
One thing about being a world champion, Melindo will no longer be fed with tomato cans. Budler (31-2, 10 knockouts) posits a real challenge; a punching dynamo who does not honor any stop sign in the ring.
Budler has never been knocked out and has not lost a bout overseas. He is also unbeaten against Filipino boxers, having repulsed Michael Landero, Juanito Rubillar (twice), former world champ Florante Condes, Renan Trongco and Joey Canoy.
Canoy, who was stopped in 8 rounds by Budler in February, noted that Budler’s tendency to lunge in with his guard down will make him susceptible to the master counter puncher that is Melindo. Styles make fights and Melindo’s textbook counterpunching is seen by many as the antidote to the pressing, whirlwind style of Budler. Still, Melindo will have to be in the best condition to survive an expected war of attrition with Budler. The pick is Melindo by decision or late-round stoppage.
Pro boxing will go big (middleweights Golovkin and Alvarez) and small (Melindo and Budler) this weekend, but either way fight fans figure to get an overdose of action in the ring.
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