Canelo vs GGG 2: Insiders' views

Mick Gill
09/09/2018 9:15am

Liam Smith boxed Canelo Alvarez, Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray shared a ring with Gennady Golovkin, and trainer
Dominic Ingle was in Kell Brook’s corner opposite GGG. Mick Gill asked each of them for their opinions on all aspects of the
rematch - including Canelo’s clenbuterol controversy...

Boxing Monthly: Does the sanctioning of the rematch reflect badly on boxing?
Liam Smith: Very much so.
Martin Murray: Yes. People inside the sport think it’s very wrong, but I’m not sure the fans really get it. They’re just looking forward to seeing the rematch.
Dominic Ingle: No. Canelo has served the time he was given, and you have to move on. However, bans need to be uniform. Dillian Whyte got two years for accidentally taking a stimulant, Kid Galahad got two years for something he strongly contests. Canelo only gets six months.
Matthew Macklin: It makes a mockery of our sport. It’s still not fully been cleared up. But there’s an ideal world and a real world. Golovkin can’t make the money he’ll earn from a Canelo rematch against anyone else.

BM: What are your thoughts on the length of Canelo’s ban?
Smith: The ban was a joke. He only fights twice a year so he just missed his May date, during which time he corrected a long-standing injury. It’s made our sport a laughing stock. It should’ve been two years — but one year absolute minimum plus a massive fine. I’ll be out of the ring six months by the time I next fight with no failed drugs test. Piss take.
Murray: I don’t agree with it at all. It wouldn’t be so bad if everyone else who failed only got six months but Dillian Whyte and Kid Galahad both got two years. Canelo is a megastar who’s supposed to be leading the way for the sport.
Ingle: It’s never black and white. The evidence doesn’t seem very conclusive. Clenbuterol is usually used on animals, not humans. Canelo’s paid his price and done the time he was given.
Macklin: It’s top of the range BS. Today, professional athletes can’t take a paracetamol without logging it through the right channels. Canelo has been fighting at top level for a long time and knows more than anyone that Mexican meat can be contaminated.

BM: In what ways could clenbuterol provide a fighter with an unfair advantage?
Smith: I once watched an interview with [disgraced steroid distributor] Victor Conte and he mentioned that it helps boxers win the championship rounds because you don’t tire. Also, I believe you recover more quickly between rounds, it helps build size and maintains strength for longer.
Murray: My understanding is that it also serves as a masking agent.
Ingle: It wouldn’t make him stronger or punch harder. It’s a fat burner that accelerates weight loss and helps retain muscle mass, perhaps enabling him to have a shorter camp. I don’t think it’s ever been proven to be effective. My view is you can either fight or you can’t fight. No amount of drugs is gonna change that.
Macklin: I don’t really know enough about clenbuterol, sorry.

BM: Will this tarnish Canelo’s legacy irreparably?
Smith: Yeah, in a lot of fans’ eyes his past achievement will be tarnished. When I failed weight, I struggled to win some casual fans back around. Whatever excuses Canelo offers, he gave a dirty drugs sample.
Murray: Doubt it. Erik Morales, James Toney, Roy Jones Jr all failed yet they’re all still revered.
Ingle: There’ll always be a question mark over him, but people quickly forget. Manny Pacquiao never failed a test, but Mayweather sowed the seeds of doubt.
Macklin: For sure. I used to love Shane Mosley but once I found out he was probably on the juice I don’t think so much of him. Ditto Roy Jones, good as he was. How long might they have been at it? You know Sugar Ray Robinson, a proper legend, was clean.

BM: Is Golovkin-Canelo still boxing’s biggest match-up in terms of quality and commercial appeal?
Smith: AJ vs Wilder might gross more but, quality wise, yeah, I think it probably is. Only Garcia vs Lomachenko or Crawford vs Spence come close. I thought the quality of the first Golovkin vs Alvarez fight was unbelievable so it’s still the match-up I most want to see.
Murray: I think so. Josh against Wilder might generate more money but, in terms of quality, these two are already elite pound-for-pound operators. I can’t think of a better match-up.
Ingle: AJ against Wilder might appeal more to the masses, the “event crowd”, but for the real hardcore boxing fans this is still the best fight out there.
Macklin: Probably. They’re both in everybody’s top five pound-for-pound. Until very recently Golovkin was viewed as the best fighter on the planet and Canelo remains the sport’s biggest draw.

BM: How will the 12-month gap between the fights affect each boxer?
Smith: It certainly profits Canelo. The fight was being spoken about for about three years before Canelo finally agreed. He knows that the older Golovkin becomes, the greater his chance. He’s the younger man, still growing into his full man strength and he’s used the gap wisely to address the knee problem that’s probably been troubling him and compromising his performances for a while. OK, Golovkin’s one fight was little more than a quick spar [KO2 Vanes Martirosyan] but camps put miles on the clock too. Golovkin is 36 now and that’s very old for a middleweight.
Murray: It will affect Golovkin more. He’s the older fighter and, though his only fight since was an early blowout, it’s putting your body through the mill in camp that does you. We don’t know how the knee op will affect Canelo.
Ingle: Well, at the age of 36, Golovkin will have endured another two camps, another 40 sessions of being bashed back by sparring partners. He fights with his face and it’s accumulated wear and tear. However good you are, in your mid 30s your reflexes start to go and, though he’s clearly a consummate professional, your enthusiasm to train starts to dip. Because of his knee op, I expect Canelo to be less strong in his legs. You can’t fully recover from surgery in six months, as James DeGale’s first fight with [Caleb] Truax showed. I expect Canelo’s strength balance, centre of gravity will all be compromised.
Macklin: Time waits for no man and Golovkin is clearly slipping. In your mid 30s you deteriorate more rapidly and, by the time he’s in the ring, he’ll have endured two more 10-week camps. After a tough, tough fight, Canelo has had a good 12-month rest and got his knee fixed. He’ll probably just need a bit more sparring than usual to get his sharpness back.

BM: Given that Golovkin was commonly believed to have been unlucky not to get the decision last time, was he wise to accept the biggest bid and return to Las Vegas?
Smith: Yes. He’s a clever man. Vegas always pays more. He knows that, financially, Canelo is the A side. This is the biggest-money fight he can have and he’s near the end of his career.
Murray: Yes. He’s a proper fighting man who’ll aim to take it out of the judges’ hands. I thought he won by three or four rounds last time but he knows the whole world will be scrutinising in September.
Ingle: I think so. He’s a very cool, calm character. He’ll be of the mind that it doesn’t matter. He’ll let his hands be the judges. At this stage of his career, he’s wise to go where the money is.
Macklin: Golovkin is the sort who just wants to fight. He’ll leave the rest to his team, whose job will be to maximise his revenue. And they’re not stupid. They know Canelo’s the cash cow and Vegas is where he generates most money.

BM: Did we learn anything new about the principals in the first fight?
Smith: Both proved beyond dispute that they’re elite fighters. Physically, Golovkin showed that he’s a fucking animal! The right hands that had wasted James Kirkland and Amir Khan just bounced off Triple G. He just wouldn’t be denied, and Canelo couldn’t go with him. Canelo displayed unbelievable natural talent against a top, top guy and showed huge balls. Defensively, he’s class but ultimately, he was too small.
Murray: After years of annihilating everyone, we now know Golovkin can be taken the distance — and he panicked a little bit when that started to become a reality. Canelo, a naturally smaller man, showed a great chin.
Ingle: We learned that Golovkin has a good boxing brain. When he couldn’t square Canelo off and bang him out, he adapted very well. We learned that Canelo can take a shot from a naturally bigger guy. He showed plenty of heart to exchange with the heaviest hitter in the sport.
Macklin: We learned Golovkin had slipped. He was a bit jaded and his punches lacked a bit of the old snap. He’d been waiting for his mega fight for years so motivation would’ve been on point, yet he failed to fully deliver. We learned that Canelo can be brilliant against a bigger, elite man. He was outworked but never bullied. He’d always answer back after making Triple G miss. He enjoyed the best moments.

BM: What one thing will each fighter need to change to prevail this time?
Smith: Golovkin just needs to force the fight a little earlier and perhaps land a different right hand, one further down the chin or to the temple. Though Canelo stood up last time, Golovkin hits frighteningly hard. Canelo needs to start quick and then match Golovkin when he tries to force it in the middle rounds. He was too good for Golovkin when they were both fresh. If it was a four-round fight, I’d put my mortgage on Canelo.
Murray: Golovkin needs to be a little cuter this time because he started to get reckless later on and was tagged by counters. His amateur credentials prove he can box when he needs. Canelo needs to really make Golovkin pay every time he misses. After a class start, he conceded all the middle rounds — but it wasn’t lack of fitness. He just succumbed to the ridiculous pressure Golovkin exerts.
Ingle: Golovkin needs to box more, like he did for the first six rounds against David Lemieux. He can break Canelo down with the jab and straight shots. He doesn’t seem to mind getting hit, but he’s gotta stop that. Canelo, as the younger man, can’t stand back for the first six rounds. He has to gamble on jumping on Golovkin and taking him out of his stride.
Macklin: Golovkin missed with too many so he needs to aim for Canelo’s chest, drive him back, unsettle him. He was too wasteful, tried too hard to catch Canelo clean on the chin. Canelo can’t allow Golovkin to run away with the middle rounds. He started and finished better. But Golovkin’s constantly on you, threatening, forcing you to burn nervous energy. It’s hard.

BM: Finally, who wins and why?
Smith: I’ll go for Golovkin’s strength allowing him to take over in the second half and get rewarded with a fair decision. He’s too big.
Murray: Golovkin by stoppage in the later rounds. Canelo’s tactics were bang on last time. I can’t see him improving on that. Golovkin will have learnt more from the first fight. He’s just the better fighter at that weight. He’s the only fighter I’ve faced with no chinks. He was immune to everything I hit him with.
Ingle: Justice will prevail and Golovkin will win a close decision in a fight that’s not quite as good as the first. He lives better between fights and has the brain to make the necessary adjustments.
Macklin: Though I thought Golovkin was hard done by last time I left the T Mobile Arena thinking he’d not win a rematch. He’s lost a bit of his aura and, after swerving the fight for three years, Canelo’s confidence will have risen. He knows he can handle Golovkin’s power. They’re very well matched but Canelo is the younger, fresher guy. This time, I lean to Canelo on points.