Gennady Golovkin’s Lack of Youth vs Canelo Alvarez’s Lack of Clenbuterol….
Last year in September, Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez faced eachother to decide who was the middleweight king. In last years prediction my choice was a close points win for Golovkin whilst hoping the judges didn’t ruin the fight – that’s pretty much exactly what happened. The outlandish scorecard in Canelo’s favour ruined the decision to what should have been a close GGG win to a anti-climatic draw.
A lot has happened since that fight, most notably Canelo’s failure of a drugs test for clenbuterol, which delayed the rematch and has meant we have had to wait a full year to see the two square off against eachother again.
So has the prediction changed in the past year? Who is the firm favourite heading into the fight? It’s a tough to pick, the first fight was pretty much a 50/50 affair and the rematch is no different. There are corners who will point to Golovkin being a year older, the champion turned 36yrs old in April and is much older than his Mexican rival who is still only 28yrs old, which means he is firmly in his peak. Golovkin though, has at least tried to stay active, it may have been a short fight but his victory earlier in the year when Alvarez was suspended ensured Triple G had at least seen the ring, for a fighter of 36yrs old, inactivity would have been disastrous, there is nothing worse for an ageing figher than being inactive. Fortunately for Golovkin, his best traits won’t be affected by his age – those traits are his freakish power and his granite chin. This will ensure that Canelo will have his work cut out Saturday night and can expect another 12 round fight.
What works against Alvarez though is his drugs test. There is no questioning his skills, Canelo is highly skilled, a terrific counter puncher and one of the best combination punchers in the game but just how long was he taking clenbuterol for? We all know the negative connotations surrounding steroids in the sport, but it is debateable that clenbuterol is actually a more effective drug for the sport of boxing than steroids are. Clenbuterol is used for asthmatics, relaxing the bronchioles allowed the user to breathe more easily – this is of course perfect for boxers, especially when you have 12 rounds ahead of you. It means you can punch harder for longer and recover quicker between rounds, generally just all round better fitness. Now you have to still put the hard work in which I have no doubt Canelo has done, but for someone who was accused in the past of lacking fitness, taking rounds off and sitting on the ropes to recover, clenbuterol would have done him a world of good. There is also the ability of clenbuterol to burn body fat whilst retaining muscle. Again this makes clenbuterol the perfect drug for boxers trying to make a weight class – why? Because if you can lose only fat, it means that when you rehydrate yourself after the weigh in, the muscles which you did not lose, will draw in more glycogen and more water, allowing you to quite easily add on 15lbs + before the fight. For someone like Canelo, this means he will often outweigh his opponent by a number of pounds, giving him a huge advantage in the power stakes as well aiding his punch resistance. You’re effectively fighting someone in a higher weight class.
In the past Canelo has managed to move up and down in weight, fighting at catch weights with no detrimental effect to his performance. Look at the changes of weight when he took on the likes of Amir Khan, Liam Smith, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Gennady Golovkin. Now compare that to another world champion such as Kell Brook. Brook was a welterweight who moved up to middleweight to challenge Golovkin, he then went back down to welterweight to fight Errol Spence Jr and the effect of having to drain himself to come back down in weight was obvious with Brook fading down the stretch, it also meant he realised having gone up in weight, he wasn’t able to come back down in weight again and he moved to the light middleweight division. Canelo though, has not suffered any of these effects.
These issues, make it just as difficult to predict the outcome of the second meeting as it was for the first. There is also the general bias we have to contend with. Like it or not, Canelo is quite possibly the biggest draw in boxing and could be seen as the face of boxing. The baffling scorecard from their first bout almost hinted to this as well, Golovkin is 36 and is not as marketable as the younger, more flashy Mexican, who also happens to be promoted by a former face of boxing in Oscar De La Hoya. Let’s not forget that Canelo received a paltry 6 months suspension for a failed drugs test, if that doesn’t show he is being treated more leniently for being the face of boxing and its biggest draw then I don’t know what else does, you can be pretty damn sure that a more obscure boxer probably would have been faced with at least a 2yr ban.
Who wins really comes down to who makes the better adjustments. Canelo may have been a little cautious of Golovkins power in the first match up, now he has tasted the power and knows he can handle it, will he come out and be a little more active? Will he look to counter more and open himself up to more shots of Golovkin knowing that he might get tagged but will have the chance to throw two in return? Canelo also proved that his chin is as solid as they come, and with many believing he lost the first match up, he knows what he has to do to make up ground. If he fought the way he did the first time round yet still escaped with a draw, he only needs to improve his tactics slightly and the win will be assured.
Golovkin fought the way many expected him to the first time so just how much can he improve upon his last outing against Alvarez? One thing he can undoubtedly do better is his body punching which was almost non existant the last time. Golovkin is capable of throwing punishing blows to the mid-section and he should look to mix in more body shots and switch levels better to allow him to create some uncertainty in Canelo’s mind, if he doesn’t, Canelo will be able to read Golovkins attack and give it an element of predictability.
Last but not least, and possibly what could really tilt this fight over the edge and make it far better than the original, is the real human emotion and passion that will be on show from the fighters. Not that there wasn’t any the first time, but now both men have a reason to be angry. Golovkin will be angry that he ‘potentially’ fought a ‘cheater’ last September. Boxing is a dangerous sport without introducing drugs to it, Golovkin has a right to be seriously annoyed at what Canelo did and his excuses have only fuelled that fire further. Golovkin will want to settle the score and punish Canelo for his mistake of using illegal substances. For Canelo, he will be determined to wipe off the stain of being labelled a cheater for failing the drugs test. If he can win this fight, it will prove to the world that he didn’t need any drugs and that his skill is rightly rated as one of the best in the world. He will also want to hurt Golovkin for all the name calling that has been going on between the two camps since that drugs result was made public. How will Canelo mentally handle not being on clenbuterol though? When someone is taking drugs and then all of a sudden he has to come off the drugs, how will he mentally handle knowing he doesn’t have that ‘back-up’ so to speak, it’s almost like taking a weapon out of someone’s armoury, or taking a tool out of the trade box, it is going to have an impact on Canelo because in the back of his mind he will be thinking he struggled to a draw with Golovkin last time round on drugs, now without the clenbuterol will he gas out down the stretch? Will he be able to come on strong as he did towards the end of the last fight?
Canelo is a world class talent, he is without doubt one of the most skilled boxers in the game today, Golovkin has underrated skills but still possesses game changing power. Whoever wins this fight, will write their names down in the history books in one of boxings most glamorous divisions. A Canelo win could be start of his legacy in the division, a win by Golovkin could have his name mentioned alongside the likes of Hagler, Monzon and Sugar Ray Robinson as amongst the best the division has ever seen.
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