One of the biggest fights of the year takes place on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in the mecca of boxing, Las Vegas.
Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs), the gentle-faced assassin, will take on Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs), one of boxing’s elite counterpunchers and most popular figures. The two fighters will be battling for distinction as the lineal middleweight champion.
While Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor brought massive global attention to boxing, this bout will have a smaller audience but will undoubtedly be a better product.
The undefeated Golovkin boasts near-mythical power, stopping 22 opponents in a row before he went to the cards for the first time in nearly nine years against Daniel Jacobs back in March.
Alvarez has defeated all of his opponents but two—losing to Mayweather, drawing against Jorge Juarez in only his fifth professional bout—and is capable of both overpowering and outfoxing his opposition, whether it’s the lightning-fast Amir Khan or the hard-hitting Miguel Cotto.
Here’s how to watch the superfight.
Golovkin vs. Alvarez Viewing Info
When: Saturday, September 16
Where: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
TV: HBO pay-per-view ($79.99)
Live Stream: CaneloGGG.com ($79.99)
According to OddsShark.com (as of Thursday), Golovkin is a -155 favorite (bet and Alvarez a +125 underdog. The 35-year-old Kazakh puncher has been the odds-on favorite since the opening line, likely due to his ability to mow down opponents with breathtaking ferocity.
Alvarez has taken on better-quality opponents overall in his career and triumphed nearly every time thanks to his skill and precision, but Golovkin’s power is the kind that can ruin any good game plan as pain and fear flood the mind.
The trick for the 27-year-old Mexican will be to stay cool under pressure, and try to pick off Golovkin before he can march forward and get in close. Golovkin’s own chin appears to be as solid as his hands, as he’s been known to wade through punches as he advances forward for close-range power shots.
Golovkin’s bout against Jacobs in March showed that he can tough it out—though few people in boxing are tougher or stronger-willed than Jacobs. Golovkin won by a slim margin on the cards, though he did knock Jacobs down in the fourth round. However, Jacobs showed that Golovkin might not have as much variety in attack and defense as other top fighters. This is certainly a welcome thought for the all-rounder Alvarez, as it’s difficult to see him winning on anything other than the judges’ scorecards.
ESPN.com polled 14 of its writers and analysts for predictions. Nine have Alvarez winning, but only one, Pablo Viruega of ESPN Deportes, has him winning by a knockout:
“Golovkin is known for his power and for finishing his opponents fast. But Canelo has shown that he can withstand strong battles. He has a tough chin and his punches are powerful enough to penetrate GGG’s defense. It’s going to be an intense bout from start to finish.”
Alvarez has a solid knockout rate of 67 percent, but he will have to catch Golovkin flat-footed and off-guard more than a few times to pull off the stoppage. A careful fight strategy might not allow for that. In his last bout against a listless Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Alvarez never quite forced the issue.
John Locher/Associated Press
The massive opportunity in this bout is not lost on these two boxers. Golovkin is aware of how big this moment is for his career. Even though he is in his mid-30s, a win over the ultra-popular Canelo can propel him to a bigger level of stardom.
“I don’t want to talk too much. I respect Canelo’s team,” the Kazakh fighter said, per the Washington Post’s Marissa Payne. “I know this is the biggest day for us, or not for us, for boxing. This is a huge, history-making fight.”
Alvarez, under the stewardship of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, could firmly establish himself as the best draw in the sport with a win over Golovkin.
His already-swelling popularity, combined with a marquee victory, would plant him firmly in the sports mainstream.