x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 24 November 2017

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez v 'GGG' Gennady Golovkin: Our editors give their predictions

Both fighters pack an almighty punch but only one will emerge victorious in Las Vegas on Saturday

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez of Mexico will face the WBC/WBA/IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan in Las Vegas on Saturday. Steve Marcus / Reuters
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez of Mexico will face the WBC/WBA/IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan in Las Vegas on Saturday. Steve Marcus / Reuters

Why 'GGG' will win - Jon Turner

Gennady Golovkin may head in to Saturday night as the pre-fight favourite but a host of names within the world of boxing - from Anthony Joshua to Carl Froch to Floyd Mayweather Jr to Amir Khan - are all backing Saul "Canelo" Alvarez to emerge victorious.

It shows just how close this fight in Las Vegas is expected to be when Golovkin puts his IBF, WBA and WBC world middleweight titles on the line.

Had this fight taken place a year ago - when it was initially suggested - even the most ardent Alvarez fans would have struggled to make a case for their man as Golovkin ripped his way through the middleweight division.

Fast forward 12 months and the first signs of a chink in the Kazakh’s armour were exposed when he was taken the distance by Daniel Jacobs in March and escaped with a narrow points victory.

While Team Alvarez are sure to have poured over that fight to establish their own game plan to beat Golovkin, the champion himself will no doubt have done likewise to right the wrongs from that night in New York.

Golovkin is renown for being one of the most fearsome punchers in boxing, and while it will be his power that ultimately decides the fight, there is more to the unbeaten Kazakh than brute force.

Golovkin’s foundations are based on a powerful jab that acts as a power punch on its own. It doesn’t snap but rather pushes through its target and Alvarez will have to find a way to nullify Golovkin’s lead punch to stand any chance of victory. If it becomes a battle of the jabs, Alvarez simply has no chance.

Pressure fighters like Golovkin need to be adept at cutting off the ring, and none do this more effectively than the Kazakh. As well as dominating Alvarez with his jab, Golovkin will look to walk the Mexican down, suffocate his movement and land his huge bombs.

Gennady Golovkin beat Daniel Jacobs by unanimous decision in his last bout in New York in March. Frank Franklin II / AP Photo
Gennady Golovkin beat Daniel Jacobs by unanimous decision in his last bout in New York in March. Frank Franklin II / AP Photo

Golovkin is not a bob-and-weave style fighter. In fact, his head remains fairly static throughout, but his control of range ensures he rarely gets hit cleanly while allowing him to conserve energy for his own onslaughts.

Alvarez's best hopes for success lie in his counter-punching ability. He will need to absorb pressure from Golovkin and launch his own counter-strikes, but Golovkin's efficiency, granite chin and power means that is far easier said than done.

Golovkin's jab, balance, ability to close off the ring, and yes, his unrivalled power, will see him leave Las Vegas with his belts. Expect a mid-to-late stoppage.

Oscar De La Hoya, chairman of Golden Boy Promotions, has predicted that Saul "Canelo" Alvarez's fight with Gennady Golvkin will be as explosive as Marvin Hagler v Thomas Hearns 22 years ago. Steve Marcus / Reuters
Oscar De La Hoya, chairman of Golden Boy Promotions, has predicted that Saul "Canelo" Alvarez's fight with Gennady Golvkin will be as explosive as Marvin Hagler v Thomas Hearns 22 years ago. Steve Marcus / Reuters

Why Canelo will win - Steve Luckings

After the mock exhibition that was Floyd Mayweather Jr v Conor McGregor comes the bona-fide main event.

On Saturday night, in the same Las Vegas ring that made Mayweather and McGregor richer by the tune of a split of US$400 million (Dh1.4 billion) for what goes down as arguably the biggest mismatch in sports history, genuine fight fans will see two superstars battle for supremacy as "GGG" Gennady Golovkin takes up the cudgels with long-time adversary Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.

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Some, particularly Canelo's promoter and mentor, Oscar de La Hoya, himself a former champion at 160Ibs, are billing it as the greatest middleweight match-up since since "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler and Thomas "Hit-man" Hearns tried to kill each other in "eight minutes of mayhem" in Las Vegas 22 years ago.

While there are no doubts the contest throws together boxing's two most brutal punchers, the nagging sense is that this fight, much like Mayweather's showdown against Manny Pacquiao in 2015, has come years too late to see both fighters in their pomp.

Boxing is big business and a promising fighter's road map to success is planned almost down to the last punch. Canelo has been scrapping and refining but mostly terrorising his opponents since his first pro bout at the age of 15, which in itself raises questions around boxing's ethics, but the Mexican's promoters, De La Hoya's Golden Boy, have been shrewd in avoiding Golovkin until now.

The narrative peddled by Golden Boy is that they have been waiting for the smaller Canelo to grow and move up naturally to face king Golovkin in his natural habitat of 160Ibs. Considering Canelo took care of a canny operator like Miguel Cotto at middleweight and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr at a catchweight 165Ibs this seems harder to swallow than the alternative, that Canelo's team, rather than the fighter himself, have just been waiting for Golovkin to get older and for his considerable powers to wane.

At 27, Canelo is eight years younger than Golovkin but has fought 14 times more than the unbeaten Kazakh, who has put 33 of his 37 opponents away well inside the distance. Golovkin has been calling out his flame-haired rival ever since Canelo took a unanimous decision over Cotto two years ago.

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, right, punches Julio Cesar Chavez Jr during their catchweight bout at T-Mobile Arena on May 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Canelo Alvarez won by unanimous decision. Al Bello / Getty Images
Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, right, punches Julio Cesar Chavez Jr during their catchweight bout at T-Mobile Arena on May 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Canelo Alvarez won by unanimous decision. Al Bello / Getty Images

But in playing the waiting game Golden Boy may have planned their path to dethrone Golovkin with meticulous precision after he was posed plenty of problems by Danny Jacobs in his most recent contest. What Jacobs did is expose what has always been known but rarely carried out: Golovkin's head presents a static target there to be hit.

Both Canelo and Golovkin are fearsome punchers who like to control proceedings but it seems unlikely Canelo will back himself to walk through Golovkin's barrage of jabs. If he hopes to prevail he will be better served ceding control of the ring to his bigger and more aggressive opponent in favour of looking to lay traps and test Golovkin's chin with the kind of punches that had us fearing for Amir Khan's life when they met in 2016.

With a staggering record of 34 knockouts in 51 bouts that has resulted in 49 wins. one draw and a points loss to Mayweather - the last time the American every truly schooled an opponent - the most likely outcome of Canelo's next assignment is a stoppage.

I'm banking on the Golden Boy strategists being proved right, that the 2017 Gennady Golovkin is a lesser version of the 2015 one. I see the 27-year-old Mexican's hand being raised in victory in Las Vegas on Saturday night as long as he lands cleanly with his weapons of mass destruction.