Three weeks ago, the world was captivated by a boxing match between the best boxer of his generation and a man who had a 0-0 record in the square circle.
On Saturday, boxing fans will be the ones who are on the edges of their seats when two of the sport’s best performers, Gennady "GGG" Golovkin and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, do battle in the year’s most anticipated matchup.
GGG (37-0, 33 KOs) and Canelo (49-1-1, 34 KOs) will finally go toe-to-toe at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
At this point, the narrative has been established. Canelo is the in-his-prime fighter who spent the last two years ducking Triple-G. Golovkin is the perhaps-past-his-prime boxing boogeyman who is finally getting the fight he deserves.
Originally, the plan was for these two middleweight titans to meet last September, following Canelo’s dispatching of Amir Khan and GGG’s dominant performance against Dominic Wade.
After Canelo knocked out Khan, he called out the Kazak, and it seemed that the fight was all but settled. So much so that bookmakers began to release lines. At that time, Bovada listed GGG as a -350 favorite.
Instead of pursuing the fight, Canelo’s handler Oscar De La Hoya pushed his prize-fighter in a different direction and had him vacate his middleweight belt. Eventually, the two sides agreed that each fighter would be allowed two bouts before they settled their score in late 2017.
While Golden Boy will say they just wanted Canelo to get used to fighting at 160 pounds, it’s plain to see that De La Hoya and his camp knew that Alvarez would have a much better chance against Golovkin if he waited another year.
In his two tune-up fights, GGG forced a game Kell Brook’s corner to throw in the towel and then squeezed out a close unanimous decision against Daniel Jacobs this past March.
Both fights left fans asking questions of Golovkin’s performance. Even though he ended up brutalizing Brook, GGG didn’t look himself. And then Jacobs, who is probably the division’s third-best fighter after GGG and Canelo, not only ended Golovkin’s KO streak at 23, but at times he looked like he was dictating the bout.
It was exactly the result that Golden Boy and their 27-year-old talisman was hoping for. The once invincible Triple-G had the look of a fighter on the wrong side of the mountain. The narrative around Golovkin changed from "he can’t be beat" to "he has lost a step."
An even brighter picture was painted for Canelo a few months later. The boxer-puncher extraordinare looked sharp as ever in a dominant unanimous decision against fellow Mexican fighter Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Right after that performance, the fight between GGG and Canelo was announced for September 16. Soon thereafter the betting lines were released, and they looked very different than the first set of odds.
Golovkin was still favored, but the price plunged to -165.
The odds have bounced around since then, but right now GGG is being offered at -143 to -165 depending on the shop.
Although Golovkin is a popular fighter and is admired by Mexican fans for his "Mexican Style" of fighting, Canelo is an absolute superstar among Mexicans and figures to get his fair share of public money during fight week.
For now, it’s worth monitoring the line movement. Should GGG start to become a heavier favorite, that could suggest some sharp money coming in on the 35-year-old, as it would be surprising if more bets were placed on him.
We’ll have much more on this fight throughout the week.
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