Gennady Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez have fought in more than 50 world title fights in a decade of dominance.
Golovkin was once untouchable, Canelo is unmatched as boxing’s financial saviour and on Saturday night, in Las Vegas, they fight for a third time.
Their first fight in 2017 was a split draw and their rematch a year later was won by Canelo with the narrowest of margins. So far there seems to be a story in each of the 24 rounds they have shared in the T-Mobile Arena; the venue is, uniquely, the home of their trilogy fight.
Golovkin is now 40; his only defeat in 44 fights was the loss to Canelo in September 2018. A defeat he disputes. Earlier this year, he travelled to Japan to stop local Ryota Murata to add the WBA middleweight title to the IBF version he held. He first won a world title in 2010; Canelo won his first world title in 2011. There will never be veterans like this in boxing’s future.
Canelo is the baby-bruiser with the Mexican heritage and burden; he is still, remarkably, only 32 but has fought 61 times. His two defeats were risks; Floyd Mayweather outpointed him in 2013 and in May of this year he lost to unbeaten light-heavyweight champion, Dmitry Bivol, on points. In fights between the two defeats, Canelo became boxing’s highest-paid attraction and an old-fashioned star.
Now the two men are probably on the other side of their peaks, but still the best in the business. Canelo has held all four belts at super-middleweight in the last year and Golovkin just the two right now at middleweight.
However, Saturday’s third fight has nothing to do with the baubles they shine so religiously and all to do with the complicated layers of justice that motivate so many wealthy boxers.
Golovkin wants revenge in the ring for the two fights he believes he won and Canelo wants to end all the talk about his controversial wins forever. They are both righteous in their hopes for Saturday night, both assured of their own ability to deliver the final word.
It is clear that Golovkin is not as wicked in the ring now as he was during his finest years when he ruined a dozen top challengers, often in cruel displays. He cut fighters down with damning punches to liver and head and they often fell in agony and screaming. He has stopped or knocked out 37 of the 42 men he has beaten. He was ruthless, cold in the ring and a smiling delight away from the lights. “I bring big drama show,” he would predict. And he did.