The Big Question: Canelo vs GGG - who wins?

Boxing Monthly
15/09/2017 3:45pm

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez faces Gennady 'GGG' Golovkin on Saturday night in a titanic showdown to settle middeweight supremacy. We canvassed opinion among the Boxing Monthly team about which pugilist will prevail...

A lot of wise heads are picking Canelo, as the younger, in-form fighter, to win a decision. Some have even suggested he merely needs to stand up for 12 rounds for that to happen (especially when one considers that judge Dave Moretti – who voted for Mayweather over Alvarez by a margin of only four rounds in a fight Floyd seemed to dominate from first bell to last – is on duty).

It’s sound logic. In his most recent outings, against welterweight Kell Brook and then his top middleweight rival Danny Jacobs, Golovkin appeared to be going through the motions: sluggish, hittable – beatable even. At times, his body language against Brook was reminiscent of the great Julio Cesar Chavez who in his 91st contest (and seemingly bored of rearranging the internal organs of Liverpool’s Andy Holligan inside Puebla City’s Estadio Cuauhtémoc) would often lower his hands and back up disdainfully towards the ropes – as if assured of the result but bored of the process. Chavez crushed the Briton in five rounds but was defeated for the first time in his very next fight.

Golovkin, though, has more to gain here. If a lack of motivation has impacted on his recent showings, he should return to his destructive best on Saturday in Vegas. Bigger, stronger and more powerful, Alvarez was able to cancel out the astute boxing of Miguel Cotto in 2015 with heavier and more eye-catching assaults. Against GGG, Canelo could find himself on the opposite side of that equation. My pick is for Golovkin to punch out a measured 12-round decision win - perhaps scoring a late knockdown that will seal the deal. His reputation is riding on it. - Andrew Harrison

I'm going to sit on the fence... but (!), I'm going to give my likelihood of which side I favour. Canelo has continued to progress since the Mayweather fight in terms of movement and boxing ability, but he's still, on the whole, a flat-footed fighter. If a Mayweather-esque opponent faces him again, I still believe he'd be vulnerable. However, compared to GGG, I see him being the slicker and sharper of the two, as he demonstrated against Cotto.

However, GGG isn't Cotto. He's a naturally more ferocious and destructive fighter and at 160lbs he can knock down and knock out anybody with, in military terms, a direct hit. Based on what I saw in the Danny Jacobs fight, it looked like GGG had lost a bit of foot speed, which is where Canelo will seek to capitalise. How it unfolds on the night? Who knows? All I can say is, for me, it's one of the most highly anticipated middleweight contests since the 1990s.

Bottom line - 65/35 in favour of a comfortable points victory for Canelo ... 35/65 GGG late stoppage around rounds 8-10. My fantasy scenario is a good old fashioned gun slinging contest! - Paul Zanon

My initial prediction was that Canelo would be too fresh and explosive for a Golovkin who had shown serious signs of slippage in his last two fights. I even think GGG lost (just) to Jacobs. However, as the fight approaches, Golovkin seems to have a totally different look and aura about him, similar to when he was a cult figure and middleweight bogeyman 3/4 years ago. His superior footwork, granite chin and bigger size, not to mention power, has me picking Golovkin for a tough points win. That being said, I can see Canelo putting up a hell of a fight and landing some hellacious shots, particularly to the body. - James Oddy

I'm probably in the minority, but having not faced a puncher throughout his whole career or taken on a solid middleweight contender there are serious question marks against Canelo going in to this fight for me. His last three opponents Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Liam Smith and Amir Khan are also poor preparation for an elite level operator like Golovkin. Danny Jacobs gave Golovkin real issues but he's far more athletic and a much better mover than Canelo. There is always the chance that father time has caught up with Golovkin, but I'm still picking him to win by knockout in 9 rounds. - Marcus Bellinger

We're finally here! This fight has been talked about for close to two years and even though some may say it's not the best time for Golovkin, it's the best time for this fight as a contest. If you asked most people two years, or even 12 months ago who would win, 90 per cent would've picked Golovkin. Today if you look at the betting odds you'll see GGG is a very narrow favourite, around 4/6 with Canelo at 5/4. For me the fight happening now is better for boxing as it's a closer contest.

On to the fight itself - I've felt quite confident with my pick since it was announced. Golovkin is the more natural middleweight of the two and the bigger puncher but is 35 and coming off two less than stellar performances (I thought Jacobs beat him), but he's still Golovkin and is rightly the favourite. Canelo, on the other hand, has looked almost flawless since losing to Floyd Mayweather in 2013, with only Erislandy Lara pushing him close.

The key for me in this fight is Golovkin's age - if you go back and watch the Willie Monroe Jr fight and then the Jacobs fight there is a vast difference between these two versions of GGG. He is noticeably slower and  lacks the energy he showed two years ago. Canelo, on the other hand, has only improved and has more than one way to win. 

My pick is for Canelo to use Jacobs' plan of boxing going back while occasionally engaging with the Kazakh en route to a fairly comfortable 116-112 unanimous decision win. - Callum Rudge

A genuine 50-50 contest which I keep changing my mind about ... but when I sit and think about it I just keep falling to Golovkin, by the narrowest of margins, in a fight where I won't be surprised by either fighter winning on points, or by late TKO. I still think Canelo has time to come again, while Golovkin is aware that this is his one chance of a 'super fight' to define his entire career. I think Golovkin on a tight, disputed, points decision. - Colin Harris

A widely held perception is that Golovkin is on the slide and Canelo is on the rise. Golden Boy have (almost shamelessly) stalled this fight for as long as humanly possible to give their man the optimum chance of winning. Let’s be brutal, they ducked GGG and played the long game. Canelo would have always taken the fight.

Golovkin’s hard-fought win over Daniel Jacobs gave Oscar and co sufficient encouragement to bite the bullet. I do believe Canelo’s chances have improved with time and I am wary of close fights in Vegas where the perceived cash cow often receives ‘considerate’ scorecards. Vegas looks after itself and Canelo has been a beneficiary more than once.

Looking at the fight coldly, Canelo has never faced an elite middleweight of Golovkin’s size, power and under-estimated technique. Scotch that - Canelo hasn’t even faced a genuine middleweight unless you include the faded, sloth-like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. GGG’s chin is forged of iron and obviously he is the puncher in this fight. However, I think the Kazakh will be more ‘safety-first’ and rely on his purer boxing skill set to win over 12 hard-fought rounds, though at least one judge will ‘see’ the fight differently. At a guess, Dave Moretti. So Golovkin via split decision (Canelo only by ‘Vegas decision’) to tee up the money-spinning rematch and another payday for Vegas. – Mark Butcher

Although Oscar De La Hoya is promising everyone an action-packed brawl, this will be a mostly technical affair with occasional offensive bursts. Canelo's hand speed and head movement will give GGG some problems early on, but Golovkin will adjust his timing and begin to find the target with his jab after a few rounds. Alvarez will silence critics in this fight, proving that he can hang with a big puncher. Golovkin will prove he can handle the big stage. Both men will have their moments down the stretch, showing wear and tear on their faces as the final bell rings. But in the end, GGG has more levels and his punches do more damage. I like Golovkin by close, possibly split decision that has fans and media arguing on social media for weeks. No doubt they will do it again next May. - Michael Montero

2017 has been an amazing fight year. We've seen some absolute classics, but I've always looked forward to this match-up the most. Throughout the build-up I've been leaning towards Canelo, as I feel he is the overall better boxer. The only advantage Golovkin has over Canelo is his power. In terms of speed, accuracy and overall boxing ability it is a no contest. I only see two results for the fight. A GGG KO or Canelo to win on points. I'm picking the latter, although I feel it will be close. Canelo to win on points. - Haroon Ahmed

This prediction has been keeping me awake at night. I agree that Golovkin has slipped somewhat from his devastating peak, and on balance I think this - and the Vegas' judges' propensity to be swayed by Alvarez's work (as evidenced by the scorecards against Mayweather, Lara and Cotto) - will edge things to Canelo via a probably split or even majority points decision that sets Twitter ablaze with bitter debate. I think it's also worth pointing out that Golovkin has only ever gone 12 rounds once in his whole career, while Canelo has negotiated the full championship distance multiple times. This could be significant. I'd much prefer a conclusive stoppage either way, but my feeling is that this one is going all 12. - Luke G. Williams

In the end, my bet is on youth and superior defence. Golovkin will have his moments and in one of them could push Alvarez over the razor's edge but if the fight drags into the late rounds as seems likely I favour the younger fresher guy and that's Canelo Alvarez by decision. - Ron Borges (from the preview in the latest issue of Boxing Monthly magazine)

This feels like the moment which defines Golovkin's career and I have a feeling he will show that special quality great fighters do in rising to the occasion when it really matters ... I pick Golovkin to break Canelo down for a late rounds stoppage in a terrific fight which lives up to the billing and establishes him as one of the greatest ever middleweight champions. - Chris Williamson (from the online preview on the Boxing Monthly website)

Final count of writers' votes (Boxing Monthly magazine and online): Canelo 5 Golovkin 7
Final count of expert poll of boxers, trainers, promoters, etc (in latest issue of Boxing Monthly magazine): Canelo 17 Golovkin 13

Overall final count: Canelo 22 Golovkin 20