Gennady Golovkin (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

HBO Boxing: Canelo vs. Golovkin Preview and Prediction

In a big fight, there are a few key factors to consider when trying to decipher who’s going to come out on top. Obviously, there are the strengths and weaknesses of the two fighters, how they’ve looked in recent bouts, their best wins to date, and a few other intangibles. There’s always that “anything could happen” atmosphere to live sports that makes us keep watching, but a finely tuned eye can still take a look at these factors and tell you who’s gonna win a good deal of the time. So with all that in mind, here’s the breakdown for this weekend’s biggest boxing match, the clash between long-reigning middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin and Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Both fighters are on most any top-10 pound-for-pound list at the moment, so you know they’re both exceptional talents.

Alvarez has been fighting as a professional for 12 years already, but he’s only 27 years old. He turned pro at the age of 15 and has a vast amount of experience for such a young fighter. He’s developed an excellent jab and very good timing on his punches. He has an excellent left hook, right hand and uppercut as well.


As far as offensive tools are concerned, Canelo has it all. He’s shown a sturdy chin throughout his career. The only time we’ve ever seen him noticeably buckled or stunned was against Miguel Cotto’s brother, Jose, and Canelo was only 19 years old at the time. It’s a safe bet that he has improved significantly since then, and he still managed to come back and win via TKO against Jose.

Alvarez can be a bit slow-footed, as we’ve seen in fights where he’s struggled with movers like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Amir Khan and Erislandy Lara. However, he’s learned his trade well. His most glaring weakness is his tendency to take a lot of time off in several rounds. This is his way of conserving his energy throughout the fight, of course, but it could pose a big problem against a fighter with better stamina and the ability to work more consistently throughout the round.

Golovkin has been a professional since 2006. “GGG” took home a silver medal in the 2004 Olympic Games. He’s been a middleweight titleholder now for quite a while. He has made 17 title defenses of the WBA middleweight championship and unified with a few other middleweight title belts along the way.

Golovkin’s power is tremendous. Prior to going the distance in his last bout, he had knocked out 23 consecutive opponents. He, too, has a full arsenal and the ability to throw every punch in the book well. The Kazakh fighter has solid hand speed and good foot movement. He also has the ability to get himself into the position to land his punches with authority. Golovkin doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, but he was troubled in his last bout by the speed, movement and ranginess of the highly rated Daniel Jacobs.

Best Wins to Date

Canelo has a solid resume. It’s debatable what you could call his best victory to date. It could either be his win over the aforementioned Lara or his victory over Miguel Cotto. In the opinion of some fans, both of those wins were controversial. However, he deserved them both, and he should get a lot of credit for taking on such a dangerous opponent as Lara not even a year after taking his first loss at the hands of the aforementioned Mayweather. Alvarez was able to outhustle Lara and get the better of the action with body shots. He engaged Cotto in a tactical boxing match where both fighters landed about the same amount of punches, but Canelo consistently had the upper hand, as his shots kept landing with more force.

Golovkin’s best win to date definitely came against the aforementioned Jacobs. “GGG” has faced a few tough opponents during his reign at middleweight, but none were more highly regarded than Jacobs, who had run through Peter Quillin in one round and developed a reputation as the second best middleweight in the world prior to his fight against Golovkin. Jacobs certainly gave Golovkin the toughest fight to date, but the unanimous decision in Golovkin’s favor was deserved.

In terms of overall resume, Canelo definitely has the more recognizable names on his ledger and the better overall record at the moment.

Recent Form

Alvarez is in his physical prime. In his last bout, he defeated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. via unanimous decision after winning all 12 rounds very decisively. Prior to his win over Chavez, he took part in a similarly one-sided affair against then-defending junior middleweight champ Liam Smith. Canelo dominated and stopped Smith in the ninth round. Before Smith, Canelo fought the aforementioned Khan, who was able to trouble him in spots with his speed and elusiveness. Eventually, though, the more powerful Alvarez caught up to Khan and scored a spectacular highlight-reel knockout in the sixth round. Canelo’s unanimous-decision victory over Cotto came before the Khan fight. He also scored another excellent highlight-reel knockout over James Kirkland.

Golovkin, 35, is in the midst of one of the longest middleweight-title reigns in the sport’s history. In his most recent bout, he scraped by with a close unanimous nod over the aforementioned Jacobs. He was troubled early on by Kell Brook, but went on to score a TKO victory after breaking Brook’s orbital bone. In his three previous bouts, he dominated and stopped Dominic Wade, David Lemieux and Willie Monroe Jr., respectively. The only round he lost in any of those contests was the fourth against Monroe when he seemed to be taking his foot off the gas and allowed Monroe to land punches just to make things interesting.

Some people will point to Golovkin’s struggles with Brook and Jacobs to suggest that perhaps “GGG” is slowing down a little. However, it has more to do with the fact that Brook and Jacobs are two of the more talented fighters with whom Golovkin has shared the ring. We’ll see this weekend if the Kazakh fighter is still in top form.


These are the little things that could potentially make all the difference.

Canelo has had a history of judges being generous to him. He has three decision wins in his favor that some fans dispute, and he was also the beneficiary of a ridiculous 114-114 draw in his fight with Mayweather where most observers would have struggled to even find more than one or two rounds to give him. Judges seem to favor him and give him the benefit of the doubt in close rounds. He’s also the big money-making star attraction in the sport right now, which can certainly play to his favor.

Golovkin has been one of the more dominant champions in the sport for a long while, but it has taken him quite some time to finally get a marquee, big-money match-up like this one. He’s eight years older than Alvarez, which certainly isn’t doing him any favors in this match-up. However, Golovkin is still in or close enough to his prime that it won’t make much difference come fight night.

“GGG” has been a career middleweight, whereas Canelo started out as a junior welterweight. Up until his last bout against Chavez, Alvarez had never competed above 155 pounds. This could translate into a speed and power advantage for Golovkin, but Canelo has grown into the weight well. At least in terms of physicality, there shouldn’t be a significant advantage for either fighter.


How will it play out? Well, it’ll be a very competitive bout.

Both fighters will likely be careful early on with so much at stake. “GGG” has the superior boxing ability by a hair, and he’ll get the better of many of the rounds by a few punches. The fight will be fought on pretty much even terms over the first six or seven rounds. As the fight goes on and Canelo’s stamina issues begin to rear their head, Golovkin will pick up the pace and bust up Alvarez more.

If Canelo is able to hang in there and make it to the final bell, there’s a good chance he’ll get the decision, whether he deserves it or not. Golovkin knows this. That’s why “GGG” will go all out for the finish over the final third of the fight. He’ll get it, too.

Golovkin stops Canelo in the 10th round of a fantastic fight. No matter what, this one should be a can’t-miss for any fight fan.