By Leszek Dowgier
After a full year of waiting, one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year is a mere few days away. This Saturday, September 15th, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, 38-0-1, 34 KOs will square off against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 49-1-2, 34KOs, in a fight that boxing fans have been waiting for since these two first met in the ring.
Alvarez and Golovkin first met in the ring almost a year to the day of their upcoming rematch (the original fight taking place on September 16, 2017) and in the same arena. The original fight was also a very highly anticipated affair as it was seen by most as a battle to see who was the best at the 160 pound limit. Even more so, it was a fight between two skilled fighters who also had tremendous power and chins to match. In short, the boxing world anticipated fireworks. In certain ways, the original fight fell short of it’s build-up, in part because it went the distance with neither fighter touching the canvas, but mostly because of a decision which many saw as controversial. While most fans and pundits felt that the fight was close, the majority seemed to feels that Golovkin had done enough to earn the victory (ESPN.com and Harold Lederman both scored the fight 116-112 for Golovkin, while AP scored it 114-114). Two of the three judges shared this opinion, with judge Dave Moretti scoring the bout 115-113 for Golovkin and judge Don Trella scoring it 114-114. However, judge Adalaide Byrd somehow managed to score the fight 118-110 for Canelo. Naturally, this left a bad taste in the mouth of most boxing fans (except for perhaps the die-hard Canelo supporters) and left the fans
clamoring for a rematch.
Both fighters’ egos (and wallets – the first fight proving a commercial success with 1.3M PPV buys) wanted a rematch as soon as possible, and it looked like fans would see this rematch quite quickly as formal negotiations started just a few days after the first fight. As with most negotiations in the sport concerning big fights, the process became drawn out. However, after some 4 months of posturing and the usual media bickering, on January 29, 2018, HBO formally announced that the rematch would take place on May 5th. Unfortunately, not too long after fans had a chance to circle the date on their calendars, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency announced on March 5th that Canelo had failed a pair of drugs tests – testing positive for the banned substance clenbuterol. Though Canelo blamed these positive results on his consumption of contaminated beef, the Nevada Athletic Commission did not believe this excuse and on April 18th, they suspended Canelo for six months (with the suspension being retroactive to the date of the positive tests in February).
As Canelo would not be able to fight until August, Golovkin found a last minute replacement for the May 5th date in the guise of Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan, 36-3-1, 21 KOs, (easily defeating this new challenger by KO in the 2nd round) and the negotiations for a rematch with Canelo were pushed back to early June. Following the usual script, both sides postured and demanded more money (the original fight saw Alvarez on the better end of a 70-30 split, this time around, Golovkin was a 50-50 split) and the negotiations were declared dead. However, on June 13th, it was announced that an agreement had in fact been reached – and here we are, 4 days away from this highly anticipated fight.
It is quite obvious that the journey to the rematch has been fairly long and filled with controversy and drama, so seeing this fight will be that much more satisfying. What else adds to the anticipation? The apparent bad blood that has appeared between the two fighters since the first met. Gennady, a fighter who was never much of a trash talker, has called Alvarez “dirty” and a “cheater” due to the failed drug tests and has also said that Alvarez and his camp did all they could to avoid him for years. Whether this is actually bad blood or simply a page taken from the promotional book of Floyd Mayweather in order to generate more interest in the fight and perhaps get under the skin Alvarez is impossible to know. However, if it succeeds in riling up Canelo, this fight becomes even more of a must watch.