With a victory on Saturday night at the sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Canelo Alvarez can do what 37 fighters before him couldn’t do: beat unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
“GGG” came close to suffering his first loss in March, winning by unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs. Many in boxing have said Golovkin, 35, began to show his age in the fight and Alvarez is catching him at the right time. Golovkin dismissed the notion, saying in the lead-up, that he took his foot off the gas to bait Alvarez.
Regardless if it’s true, Alvarez has a tall task ahead of him if he wants to unseat the long-reigning king of 160 pounds. Here are three keys on how Alvarez can do that.
Set the tone early
Early in Alvarez’s career, the knock on him was he was a slow starter. In his last fight, a rout against Julio Chavez Jr., a light went on in Alvarez’s head: he came out the aggressor, setting the tone for the remainder of the fight.
Chavez Jr. got flustered due to not expecting his rival to come strong and fast. Due to that change in strategy, Alvarez cruised to an easy decision victory. The 27-year-old will need to do it again. Make Golovkin respect him and have him realize he is here to fight and it will be unlike anything he’s ever went through.
Utilize the jab
This is something Alvarez really made a priority after his 2013 loss to Floyd Mayweather. He knew he had to become a better and more complete fighter, and couldn’t rely solely on his power. It all starts with the jab.
In the Chavez Jr. bout, Alvarez threw 264 jabs and connected on 84 of them. It wasn’t strictly a matter of landing them — the jab set up Alvarez’s power punches and made Chavez Jr. guess what punch would be coming next.
Jacobs did it to Golovkin and it altered the way he fought, and Alvarez punches harder than Jacobs. If Alvarez can pepper Golovkin with the jab and do it often, Golovkin could get frustrated and completely alter his gameplan.
Use his big-fight experience
This isn’t Alvarez’s first rodeo. His inexperience showed when he fought Mayweather. As young as he was — just 23 at the time — he likely didn’t have an idea as to what was really on the line.
Against Miguel Cotto in 2015, Alvarez learned from his past experience and brought it with him in a win over.
The same thing happened against Chavez Jr. He should be able to go back to it come Saturday night.
Remember, Golovkin’s never been in this situation. How will he be able to handle the pressure of a high-intensity fight, when the lights will shine the brightest? Alvarez has been there, done that. It’s nothing new for him.
If the fight goes to the championship rounds and the fight is close, this will be the biggest key — one that could bring Alvarez a victory and the middleweight championship of the world.
Source: Steven Muehlhausen: Sporting News