Against Canelo Álvarez, If It's Close, You Lose

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Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, the world’s most desirable redhead, handed Gennady Golovkin his first professional loss Saturday night in a close, thrilling, center-of-the-ring middleweight brawl that demands a third (and probably fourth) installment.

One year after a questionable (some might say laughable) draw, a close Canelo victory in the rematch (judge’s scores: 114-114, 115-113, 115-113) was almost inevitable. Triple G, a 36-year-old Kazakh who built a brand by bludgeoning guys and then conducting cheerful post-fight interviews in endearing broken English, appears to be losing steam. Canelo is a 28-year-old golden goose, the glamorous face of boxing in a country obsessed with the sport. In close fights that go the distance, Canelo is granted an edge. He’s just too valuable.

Overprotection of this cash cow is partly why we’re watching these fights now as opposed to three years ago. So feared was Golovkin in his prime that most middleweights acted like Black Bush when asked about the prospect of facing him. Even Canelo’s team, led by the fearless Oscar de la Hoya, concocted a few year’s worth of excuses until Golovkin looked human against Daniel Jacobs in 2017. Only then did they show any urgency in setting up the first fight with Triple G.

Then came a couple positive Canelo tests, another convenient delay, and what do you know, GGG looks kind of old in the ring. Golovkin will be at least 37 at the time of their inevitable third fight, his window closing if it hasn’t already.

 Golovkin not looking so boyish after another 12 rounds with Canelo. |  HBO Boxing

Golovkin not looking so boyish after another 12 rounds with Canelo. | HBO Boxing

It’s a predictable shame, a continuation of a trend in boxing in which the premier fighters with leverage wait out their toughest opponents, striking when the name brand is still hot but the iron has cooled. Team Canelo has pulled this off masterfully: Two years from now he will have faced Gennady Golovkin — the most feared fighter of this generation — three or four times and come away with zero losses. The records, as is often the case, will not reflect reality. |ES|

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