By David A. Avila
Prizefighting in the middleweight division is best described as ferocious throughout boxing history from Bob Fitzsimmons to Harry Greb to Sugar Ray Robinson to James Toney.
Middleweights long have been boxing’s fiercest warriors and capable of ending a fight with a single blow, even against heavyweights.
On Saturday we see yet another example with Mexico’s redhead warrior Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) defending the super middleweight world championship against Kazakhstan’s Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. DAZN pay-per-view will stream the Matchroom Boxing card.
Over the past 10 years the two middleweights have bludgeoned foes in their own differing methods until they finally met each other in the prize ring back in September 2017. They did it again a year later, but it’s taken four years to resume the battle and this time at super middleweight.
They seem to disdain each other.
“He is not a nice guy,” said Alvarez when asked his opinion on Golovkin. “He fools you.”
Over the years Golovkin has taken indirect jabs at Canelo with accusations of PED use and lack of popularity among Mexicans. It’s a primary reason that it took four years to get them back in the ring.
Mexico’s Alvarez has always taken the road of accepting stout challenges that others refused. Despite being only 5’8” in height, the redhead eagerly met many of the best fighters of the last 20 years. He began fighting professionally at age 15 and in his third pro bout defeated future lightweight world champion Miguel “Titere” Vazquez by split decision.
Triple G took the amateur route and won middleweight silver in the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece the same year America’s Andre Ward won gold. Then he signed with a European promoter and was shoved to the back of the room in favor of German fighters. K-2 Promotions saw him perform, signed him, and he was brought to America.
Golovkin has always fought at middleweight even in the amateurs. As a pro he bludgeoned his way to victory under the guidance of Abel Sanchez and his Mexican style boxing.
Mexican-born Canelo Alvarez thrived under his pressure style fighting until he met Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013. That forced the Guadalajara team to evolve to a boxer-puncher style that led him to world titles in the super welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight and super middleweight divisions. No other Mexican fighter can claim to be a four-division world champion. Not even the great Julio Cesar Chavez.
That irks fans about Canelo.
Chavez is adored and revered by Mexicans, many who never actually saw him fight. Canelo is strangely seen as someone who fought easy fights despite clashing with Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev.
When Golovkin mentioned Canelo’s lack of popularity among his own people it seemed to spark intense bitterness in the Mexican redhead.
Back in 2017, their first fight ended in a draw with Golovkin on attack mode and Canelo in a hit and move style. Their second fight saw Canelo stand toe-to-toe with Golovkin and emerge the winner. That was four years ago when Alvarez was 28 and Golovkin 36. Age is now a factor.
Golovkin no longer trains under Abel Sanchez’s guidance and Alvarez is coming off a loss. But still, these are the two most ferocious middleweights of their era and a world awaits the outcome once again. This time at super middleweight. That’s Canelo’s territory and he owns all the belts at the moment.
“I feel it’s the biggest fight for boxing right now. I feel strong, I feel ready,” said Golovkin. “We’re both professional athletes. In the ring we shall show who is better.”
Its one thing Alvarez agrees on.
“I’m happy to be back in the ring. I lost my last fight but we’re men and we’re back,” said Alvarez talking about his lost to Dmitry Bivol last May. “I have a strong opponent in front, an intelligent foe and nothing in life is easy. It’s going to be difficult but it’s what I want.”
Bam is Back
One meteoric star featured on a Matchroom card yet again is WBC super flyweight titlist Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez (16-0) who quickly returns again and this time faces Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez (28-4-1) in a title defense on Saturday in Las Vegas. It’s Rodriguez’s third fight in seven months.
Gotta make that money.
“I want to solidify that I’m Fighter of the Year,” said Rodriguez, 22, at the Thursday press conference. “This fight is going to turn me from a star to a super star. They’re going to remember this fight forever.”
Rodriguez wowed fans when he stopped Thailand’s feared Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in the eighth round of their title clash last June. It’s only been three months and Bam is back in the ring. He’s a hungry fighter.
Bam and his brother Joshua Franco hold two of the four major super flyweight world titles. Franco has the WBA version.
Jake Paul in LA
Jake Paul officially announced in Los Angeles on Tuesday that he will fight MMA legend Anderson “Spyder” Silva on Oct. 29, in Phoenix, Arizona. The cruiserweight boxing contest will take place at Gila Arena and be shown on Showtime pay-per-view.
It could be the biggest “social influencer fight” so far.
“It’s my toughest fight,” admits Paul.
One thing Paul has in his favor is his solid chin and big punch ability.
Silva, a former MMA great, also boxed and showed off his pugilistic skills with a solid victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. He’s an experienced pro fighter with knockout power and experience in pacing himself in a fight. His one drawback is a weak chin. It’s a solid and interesting match up sure to entice fans to attend the eight-round match or watch in on television.
Another advantage Paul possesses is an innate ability to promote a fight with fiery talk or hype. It’s a rare quality not often found in the boxing world.
“I respect the man, but I’m still going to knock him out,” said Paul.
LA Influencer-driven card disappoints
Last week another influencer fight card took place at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles and no one showed up.
What did it prove?
Despite multiple participants possessing millions of social media followers, that alone does not guarantee large attendance or viewers.
Promoters think millions of followers mean lots of business. It doesn’t. Many of these influencers buy their followers and many others have worldwide followers who like their content but do not like boxing.
Another example was prize contender Ryan Garcia who has millions of followers on social media and his promoter counted on those resulting in ticket buys. They did little promoting and ignored the usual methods of newspaper and web site coverage and sadly discovered social media numbers do not translate to ticket buyers. Only 7,000 fans showed up at Crypto.com Arena this past July. They expected something near 18,000.
Fights to Watch
Fri. ESPN+ 4 p.m. Arslanbek Makhmudov (14-0) vs Carlos Takam (39-6-1)
Sat. DAZN ppv 5 p.m. Saul Alvarez (57-2-2) vs Gennady Golovkin (42-1-1); Jesse Rodriguez (16-0) vs Israel Gonzalez (28-4-1); Ali Akhmedov (18-1) vs Gabe Rosado (26-15-1); Ammo Williams (11-0) vs Kieron Conway (18-2-1).