ALL WARFARE IS BASED ON DECEPTION
The majority of fight-fans have presumably just witnessed the Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin 2 rematch that happened at the weekend there on the 15th of September, just a day short of a date which commemorates the triggering of The Mexican War of Independence against the strangle-hold and dying vestiges of the Spanish Empire’s grip on the country, and near on a year exactly from the first fight that I had covered in a feature article precipitously titled A CENTURY OF MIDDLEWEIGHT WAR.
The piece was admittedly a ‘purple prose’ appetiser in the run up to the first Saul Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin clash and focused on notable fights of the past that the middleweight division of boxing had enjoyed, in the context of elite level fighters and their aggressive styles clashing in the ring that would cater for the purist as much as it would the casual observer of the sport.
I had expected(and miscalculated)and penned a similar collision to happen in this rousing affair, as had been seen in past legendary fights such as Harry Greb vs Mickey Walker, Tony Zale vs Rocky Graziano, Marvin Hagler vs Tommy Hearns and similar confrontations, as both Gennady and Saul are considered aggressive, come-forward, throwback types and atavists to the aforementioned gladiators in the above cited article.
However, there’s was just one problem . . . Canelo can counter-punch well and as it would transpire: box on the back-foot a lot better than I had anticipated!
I had, at the time, mistakenly erred on the idea that he would meet GGG head-on and engage him in a ‘dog-fight’ or at least have no option but to lock-horns with his Kazakh opponent due to his bellicose style, thus forcing an epic no-holds barred battle.
I was so wrong with my prematurely conjured apoplectic vision of a Hagler vs Hearns type of affair, that in turn my article above turned out to be nothing more than ‘ballyhoo’ in the end.
GGG, in that particular fight, came to do what he usually does, seek and destroy. He did just that. Canelo, however, decided to use his footwork more than I think he had ever done in his, up until that point, 37 fights and frustrated the Kazakh to no end on the back-foot while showing Mayweather type counter-punching to boot(no doubt influenced by his previous fight with the modern great) and exhibiting slick skills and movement usually not attributed to him that almost bellied his ‘barrel like’ constitution; but as successful as those tactics were for him, for portions of the fight, it failed to deliver the all out action packed violent war that it had been hyped to produce and caused fans(particularly in Latino quarters) to question the Mexican’s machismo.
To make matters worse, it also ended in a draw with judge, Adelaide Byrd, scoring the contest a ridiculous 118-110 in favor of Canelo.
All in all, the bout was a lacklustre affair marred by controversy. The ‘War of the Century’ ended up being ‘Controversy of the Century’.
SECOND TIME LUCKY!
To set the record straight, a rematch was set and this time it delivered the goods. But only to an extent . . .
Could you consider the rematch a modern classic? Yes. But, it never quite made the grade of Fight of the Century for me.
It wasn’t as frenetic and spiteful enough as say a Hagler vs Hearns or as ‘unpredictably wild’ as a Graziano vs Zale or even as intense or pressurised as a Zale vs Cerdan to belong among their Olympian ranks; it was for the most part a more composed and contained affair, albeit laden with action and spurts of excitement.
Still . . . it was a very good fight that made amends on the flaws of the last fight in terms of action in the ring.
GGG, as in the previous fight came to seek and destroy, but in a more almost Carlos Monzon-esque controlled and disciplined manner, boxing at times beautifully behind a commanding and authoritative jab that caused Canelo problems throughout the bout, and was the key to him winning the fight in my opinion.
The Mexican this time, however, opted to stand his ground a lot more in contrast to his last outing and was content to slip and slide while counter-punching, and alternate this by surprisingly going forward, stalking and backing-up the hard-hitting Golovkin, in turn performing a feat that 36 opponents had failed to do in any meaningful manner prior.
Canelo, it seemed, with this more resolute and evasive strategy, had solved a lot of the flaws he had exhibited in the last fight when he chose to go on the back-foot too long or lean against the ropes for pro-longed periods of time.
His adjustment in the rematch to stay of the ropes, maintain the center of the ring and counter-punch, while using his gloves and upper-body movement to defend against and evade punches worked to great effect, in turn aiding to conserve his energy that allowed for a greater output this time around; however, by standing his ground he allowed GGG more of a stationary target to land his jab.
Unusually though, amid his opponent’s more immobile approach, GGG maintained a similar head-hunting tactic as he had done in the last fight; there was very little going to the body in any meaningful way by him?
Surprising, as you would have expected him to go ‘downstairs’ more given that Alvarez’s only option to defend that area of the body, when ‘rooted to the spot’, would be for him to bring his hands down which consequently would also present the option for GGG to switch upstairs, if needed, with more effect.
You can only surmise that it was too risky for the slower GGG to ‘open-up’ in the way he would have had to against the fast and hard countering Mexican when going to the body?
GGG at times had never looked so reticent in his career to ‘let loose’ and engage head-on with his opponent as he did against Canelo.
This would make sense, as it was evident that the sharp-shooting Alvarez can ‘bang’ and for periods looked the physically stronger guy when actively pushing the Kazakh back.
But, with that said, this bullish advantage inextricably also caused him to be susceptible and vulnerable, as at times he would seem to ‘throw caution to the wind’ or stalk too much and charge forward in a manner where he seemed content to eat punches on the way-in, in order to land his own power-shots, which at times failed to land or landed on his opponents gloves or missed by inches.
Although I thought Canelo made all the right adjustments by keeping off the ropes, maintaining centre of the ring, and forcing Golovkin out of his element by backing him up, I think if he had interspersed his strategy by being a bit more mobile on his feet and more thoughtful when going forward(particularly those moments he seemed eager to prove his machismo to the crowd) then he would have avoided some of the ‘lefts’ and ‘straight rights’ that connected, and at times seemed to be ‘peppered’ with, and came away looking more convincing in his win.
Golovkin’s strategy of sticking to the fundamentals and keeping it long, started well and ended well and I think some of the middle rounds could have went either way.
I can see how some fans thought Canelo won, as throughout the middle rounds he landed some real eye-catching and accurate power-shots and pursued the action, but I had the fight 115/114 in favor of GGG(see table below) due to his consistency, work-rate and accuracy when boxing, and also because some of these middle-rounds were arguably ‘swing rounds’ that could have went the Kazakh’s way; while the first and last couple of rounds were more definitive in my view, in GGG’s favor.
It’s hard to tell if there will be a trilogy this time next year, due to Floyd Mayweather recently announcing a potential Manny Pacquiao showdown and rematch sometime during the Christmas season. If that fight goes ahead and Mayweather should happen to win, then I could imagine my next article, in the run-up to another major boxing event around ‘The Cry of Dolores’ next year, will aptly be titled:’Mayweather vs Canelo 2:”Gate of the Century”‘
How did you score GGG vs Canelo 2?
Do you think it deserves a Fight of the Year award?
Feel free to comment below.
HOW I SCORED THE FIGHT
|Gennady Golovkin||Saul Alvarez||ROUND|