Will they or won’t they? Talk of a trilogy fight between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin resurfaced (though, to be clear, it never really went away) after both recorded impressive victories.
The day after long-time rival Golovkin had dominated against Kamil Szeremeta to defend his IBF middleweight title for a record 21st time, Canelo demonstrated his undoubted skills to defeat the much-taller Callum Smith on points up at super-middleweight.
Unsurprisingly, they were asked about facing each other in the aftermath. There was a split-decision draw between them in September 2017, followed a year later by a contentious Canelo win on points.
A third episode seemed an absolute certainty at one stage, but does it still make sense now?
As we come towards the conclusion of an unprecedented year amid a global health pandemic, it seems the ideal time to weigh up the pros and cons for two of the biggest names in boxing.
A third fight MUST happen
Canelo: The Mexican came out on top in the previous meeting, but that majority verdict will always leave a shred of doubt for some. As is so often the case when a bout goes the distance, the outcome is so subjective. All three judges’ scores were close too – Glenn Feldman had it 114-114, while his two counterparts – Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld – made Canelo the winner 117-115.
Since then, Canelo has moved up and down in weights, knocking out Sergey Kovalev at light-heavy before dropping back to 168 pounds to outclass the previously unbeaten Smith. Those wins have further enhanced his legacy, while there are plenty of options over who to face next. Still, the most lucrative option must be GGG, giving him a chance to emphatically prove he is the better man in the rivalry.
GGG: That defeat in Las Vegas in September 2018 remains the only blemish on a mighty impressive career CV. Golovkin was a hugely successful amateur who made a seamless transition into the paid ranks, building a reputation for both his power punching and ring acumen.
The Kazakh is now 38 and while there are other names to keep him busy in the division – “I’m open for anybody,” he said after his destruction of Szeremeta – Canelo must be the top priority for 2021. That may require ceding ground in negotiations, but so be it. GGG should do everything possible to get that deal signed – and then do his utmost to make sure the judges are not required to decide the outcome again.
It’s history – time to move on
Canelo: Been there, done that. Alvarez was the official winner in the Golovkin rematch, no matter what your opinion is on the verdict, so why does he need to go over old (no slight on GGG’s age there) ground?
A stoppage success would undoubtedly prove any doubters wrong, admittedly. After beating Smith, Alvarez dealt with the obligatory Golovkin question by saying: “I don’t run from nobody”. However, his willingness to switch weights from bout to bout gives him a plethora of options as he moves forward. Could we see him go up again to campaign at light-heavy? All avenues are open.
GGG: A third meeting is a gamble that will be deemed worth taking. Still, considering his age, Golovkin cannot be left waiting around in the hope it eventually happens at some stage – particularly as Canelo talked up the potential of unifying at super-middleweight, now he has the WBA and WBC belts.
Moving up to 168 to make it happen does not suit Golovkin, so perhaps it is best to focus on cleaning up at middleweight. Fellow world champions Jermall Charlo and Demetrius Andrade are strong options for a fighter who needs to capitalize on his position in the twilight stages of his career.