Can Canelo Avoid Pacquiao’s 2012?

For a sizable portion of the boxing fan base, a decisive Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez win over Gennadiy Golovkin (DAZN PPV) would be a first. For that sizable chunk, Alvarez has never really beaten Golovkin at all.

His second fight, a 2018 majority decision in favor of Alvarez, was skinny either way. Reasonable minds can and do not agree with that. Álvarez got the go-ahead.

The first, in 2017, was plagued by a scoring controversy not only due to the draw verdict, but also due to a single absurd card in favor of Álvarez in ten of twelve rounds. There were those who agreed with the draw (that’s where the live score on this site was based) but the path that officially got there terribly clouded the outcome.

Most of the press scored Golovkin’s first fight.

Heading into the third fight some four years after the rematch, a lot has changed. In eight fights, Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs), 32, advanced to defend the lineal middleweight crown he held twice against Golovkin, win a light heavyweight belt and unify the heavyweight division. super medium. His activity level and accomplishments made it difficult to call anyone else the pound-for-pound king of boxing.

Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs), 40, has fought just three times. In a debatable but exciting decision victory over Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Golovkin regained the IBF belt and added the WBA belt in his last outing by knocking out Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata. It’s hard not to think that we’ve seen time pass even in wins. Golovkin has looked slower, more hittable and less explosive.

Has time caught up or has inactivity been an enemy? Could Golovkin have one more big night in him just five months from his Murata?

Only one of the two men in Saturday’s main event is coming off a win.

For everything he’s done since the second fight with Golovkin, Alvarez enters this fight no longer the pound-for-pound leader he was at the end of 2021. In May, Alvarez took his second shot at a light heavyweight belt and rolled his eyes. of snake Sometimes apathetic, often frustrated, Alvarez was unable to solve Dmitri Bivol’s riddle and lost a lopsided decision.

Alvarez will resume his business after his first loss in years with a return to his most heated rival, a rival many believe has reached a point where he’s too old to do the job.

Sounds familiar?

Should.

Comparisons and analogies are fuzzy science, to be sure, but it’s hard not to see some similarities between Álvarez-Golovkin III and Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Márquez IV.

Going into 2012, the biggest fight in boxing, the fight between what to many were the 1A’s and 1B’s in the pound-for-pound race (and certainly in the welterweight division), would have been Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. No it had been so. still happened.

It wouldn’t happen for several more years.

At the end of 2012, it was easy to think that it was not going to happen at all. Pacquiao lost both of his starts that year, to Tim Bradley and then to Marquez in one of the greatest fights of all time. Both men rose from the ground. Pacquiao was glued to him with a single right hand just before the bell to end the sixth round.

Superstar wrestlers get to their position in part because they don’t lose often. They rarely lose two in a row while still being perceived as near the top of their game. Pacquiao bounced back, winning two against Bradley and defeating Keith Thurman to remind him of his place with the greats. He never achieved the same real-time status that he had prior to his fateful 2012.

No, this weekend is not the same. Pacquiao-Bradley I remains a largely reviled decision, while there is no debate over Alvarez-Bivol. Pacquiao’s loss to Marquez shouldn’t have been shocking either; his third fight just a year earlier was narrowly canceled in favor of Pacquiao with a loud and angry crowd still thinking Marquez got screwed in that one.

The similarity is close enough to warrant a thought.

If Alvarez can avoid defeat, if he can use his youth and skill to finally end this rivalry decisively in his favor, the ball will stay in his court in a way that few enjoy. There could be a Bivol rematch. There could be super middleweight clashes with David Benavidez or Jermall Charlo and all the riches that any of those fights can bring.

But…

From the top of the world to finally being defeated by the rival who has pursued you as his grail is not a story that we have seen so many times. It’s probably not the story we’re going to see this weekend.

Still, it’s possible, and we’ve seen it before. Where Alvarez would go from there, from a loss to Golovkin that relatively few believe likely, would be the story of a free-falling star.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Classification Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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