It’s now official – Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin will slug it out on September 16 this year in what looks like a winner-take-all fight. It’s about four months to their fight as I write this column, which will give fight fans enough time to generate a lot of buzz in social media and in bar talks.
Alvarez will be staking his World Boxing Council title while Golovkin will be putting on the line his World Boxing Association, International Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation (IBF) crowns.
In The Ring magazine, Golovkin is No. 3 in the Pound-for-Pound rankings while Alvarez is No. 8. In the magazine’s middleweight (160 pounds) rankings, Alvarez is strangely the champion while Golovkin is the No. 1 contender.
I have been closely studying the styles of both fighters even before the two of them started calling out each other to square off. But I must admit – it is still hard to choose the clear winner of this upcoming bout, because both are not mindless sluggers and are at the peak of their careers.
When a boxer reaches the peak of their career, and that varies with age, they would have developed a skill set fitting for an elite fighter: there is little or no recklessness; punching is more accurate; and they know how to adjust their strategies and tactics in the ring. And even fighters who hit hard just don’t rely on pure power when fighting at the elite level.
Although Alvarez and Golovkin do have power in both hands, the Mexican seems to have matured earlier because at 26 years old, he already has compiled a big number of fights at the elite level. Alvarez is entering the fight with a record of 49-1-1 with 34 knockouts while Golovkin, now 35, is 37-0 with 33 KOs.
Although Golovkin is a “natural middleweight,” Alvarez, at least on paper, has faced better opposition and even the best in Floyd Mayweather Jr., who beat the Mexican in September 2013 via majority decision. Opponents like Shane Mosley, Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout, among others, all put Alvarez to the test one way or the other.
What is also strange about Alvarez is he holds the World Boxing Organization super middleweight (168 pounds) championship that he won by stopping Liam Smith in September last year.
On the other hand, Golovkin looks like he was never tested by most of his opponents at middleweight although his September 2016 fight against IBF world welterweight (147 pounds) champion Kell Brook somehow exposed his inflexibility to deal with an opponent who can hit hard in return.
Golovkin’s recent decision win over Daniel Jacobs, who is ranked No. 2 at middleweight by The Ring, may be noteworthy but not spectacular.
I am not saying Golovkin has faced very inferior opposition; it’s just that he has yet to face a boxer who can push him to his limit, the way Lara pushed Alvarez to settle for a split decision win on July 2014. Perhaps Golovkin has too much power in his hands.
So my take on the Alvarez-Golovkin fight is – it is even at this point.
But come the actual bout, I would like to see who would wince first once the real hard punch lands on either of them. And I believe at this point that Alvarez has not yet faced a fighter like Golovkin, and vice versa. Failing to watch this fight would be foolish!