A bitter Gennadiy Golovkin needs a win over Canelo Alvarez to change perceptions

LAS VEGAS – In the four years since Gennady Golovkin last fought Canelo Alvarez a lot has changed at T-Mobile Arena. Alvarez rode a victory over Golovkin in this second fight to even greater heights.

Alvarez won a light heavyweight title, became the undisputed super middleweight champion and was widely considered the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in boxing. On Saturday, when they meet again in their trilogy match at T-Mobile Arena, this time for the undisputed super middleweight championship, Alvarez is a whopping -500 favorite at BetMGM.

The majority of the media covering the first two bouts saw them as victories for Golovkin. On September 16, 2017, their first fight was a shared draw, giving Golovkin the first blemish on his record after 37 straight wins early in his career. Adalaide Byrd had a ridiculously wrong card of 10-2 for Alvarez. Don Trella scored a tie – not an unreasonable judgment – but he gave Alvarez the seventh, Golovkin’s best round of the fight. This meant that instead of Golovkin winning a split decision, the fight was a split draw.

The rematch took place on September 15, 2018 and Alvarez won a majority decision. After these two fights, six scorecards were turned in. Alvarez was ahead with three, two were draws and Golovkin was ahead with one.

Judgments in each of these fights have been the subject of much debate, but if a fighter does not want to be at the mercy of the judge, he must stop the fight.

However, history would have been very different if Golovkin had achieved these two victories. He would go into Saturday’s trilogy fight with a 44-0 record and a chance to equal Floyd Mayweather’s 50-0 mark.

And at 44-0 with 37 knockouts, he would at least be considered the greatest middleweight of all time.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 27: Boxers Canelo Alvarez (L) and Gennady Golovkin (R) compete during a news conference on June 27, 2022 in New York City.  (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin face off during a news conference on June 27, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

From the looks of it, he goes into Saturday’s fight as the best middleweight of his era, but not really into the top five middleweight of all time discussion. And he’s no longer considered one of the pound-for-pound best in the world.

That’s partly because of his age. At 40, he’s not as fast and explosive as he used to be. But Mayweather was neither as fast nor as explosive as he once was when he clinched the last six or eight wins of his illustrious career.

There is also a bitterness that got stuck in Golovkin. He’s had to play a minor role to Alvarez since their second fight, which he also firmly believes won. And he’s not that crazy about where he stands promotionally at this stage.

Yahoo Sports asked him for a comment from his trainer, Johnathon Banks, to Ring magazine about the brutal fight. Golovkin turned it into a shot at promoter Eddie Hearn, although Hearn’s name did not come up in the conversation up to that point.

“Johnathon can spice things up better than a lot of promoters, including Eddie Hearn,” he said. “I’m also sure that this will be a very interesting fight with a lot of excitement.”

Golovkin, who goes into the fight as the unified middleweight champion, badly needs a win on Saturday or he’s almost at the end of the line. Oh, he can still fight, of course, but if he loses to Alvarez again, there won’t be many really significant fights in store for him.

He is now 40 years old and has been at or near the top of his sport for more than a decade. His two fights with Alvarez collectively sold 2.4 million US pay-per-views on HBO Sports and they had a combined gate of over $51 million. They were the third- and fourth-highest boxing goals in Nevada history.

Canelo Alvarez, left, and Gennady Golovkin exchange punches in the fourth round during a middleweight title boxing match Saturday, September 15, 2018 in Las Vegas.  (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin exchange punches in the fourth round during a middleweight boxing match Saturday, September 15, 2018 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Saturday’s fight is still not sold out as they say there are still a lot of good seats left. The fight will be available on pay-per-view on both DAZN and PPV.com, but is not expected to match the performance of the first two.

It is not clear why this is so. Golovkin was asked if fighting in such a high-pressure atmosphere in those first two fights with Alvarez while the world was watching helped him fare better under pressure. He turned that into a shot on DAZN, and it makes you wonder where his head is on the trilogy.

“As a huge fan of boxing, I have high hopes that this fight will be an opportunity to bring boxing back to the high level it deserves,” Golovkin said. “The first [two] Fights were on HBO and they were different times with a different approach. When HBO decided to stop supporting it, new companies emerged with a different vision.

“They made a number of mistakes and I hope this fight is an opportunity to take boxing back to the heights it deserves.”

The first 24 rounds they spent together ranked among the best in boxing in those two years, so there’s no reason the third fight couldn’t be the same.

Alvarez will of course fight with some added urgency as he suffers a loss in a light heavyweight title fight to Dmitriy Bivol.

However, Golovkin is the one to fight for the most and benefit the most from a win. Judging in those first two fights may have kept him from nearing all-time great status and changed the course of his career, but there’s no change now.

Golovkin needs the achievement of his life to remind people of the monster he once was.

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