Saturday brings us the biggest and most anticipated boxing showdown of 2017 – or at least, the biggest and most anticipated showdown featuring two actual boxers.
After Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor gave the casual audience the celebrity and the spectacle they crave three weeks ago, it’s time for diehard fight fans to get their fix courtesy of Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in a bout two years in the making.
The unbeaten Kazakh ‘Triple G’ and Mexico’s Alvarez – who has only been defeated by Mayweather himself – will pretty much decide the sport’s current top pound-for-pound fighter in their contest at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for Gennady’s WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, and IBO middleweight belts plus Saul’s The Ring (lineal) title.
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No doubt, it’s the type of matchup fans live for and deserve to have put on for them. My biggest fear, however, is that we’ll collectively get a little too worked up.
It’s frustrating that both sides have been able to stage the fight 24 full months after beginning negotiations. It’s not quite Mayweather-Pacquiao levels of tease-and-denial, but look at how that bout failed to live up to such lengthy periods of high expectations.
We should also remember that the magnitude of this bout won’t be lost on the competitors, either. Both Golovkin and Canelo can bang, no doubt about it. But neither will want to be the one on the receiving end of said banging. They’re patient and cerebral enough to avoid unnecessary risks, so it’d be naive to expect round-to-round fireworks.
My biggest fears for Saturday aren’t based on the fight potentially failing to crack the FOTY shortlist, however. They come mostly from the sheer excess of hyperbole unjustly placed on the bout by some media outlets.
Canelo-Golovkin has been dubbed ‘fight of the decade’ by some. ‘The bout to save boxing’ by others. It’s all a bit absurd.
I hope the two men deliver as much as the next fan – and it’s worth stressing that almost everyone in the position of writing about the sport is a fan – but such exaggeration helps nobody. And does anyone really think that Canelo and Golovkin care about anything other than cementing their reputation with a win?
Come Saturday night (or Sunday morning, for those of us in the UK), it’s worth removing all of the hype and expectation from your mind when the main event ringwalks begin. Don’t think about their pasts. Don’t ponder their futures. Forget about Ward-Kovalev, and definitely forget all about Mayweather-McGregor.
Just sit back and enjoy the fight for what it is. There’ll be plenty of time for detailed analysis when the dust settles and we (hopefully) have a new pound-for-pound king of the ring.
And there’s no better example to follow than that of the two combatants, who have kept their fight week talking short and sweet despite the volume of hype surrounding their epic confrontation.
“I don’t like to talk too much,” Alvarez said. “I just want to say that I’m prepared. I know it will be a tough fight. I just want you all to enjoy it like I’m going to enjoy it.”
‘GGG’ pretty much echoed Canelo’s sentiments.
“I don’t want to talk too much,” Golovkin said. “I am ready. I see that Canelo is ready. He is ready for serious business, a serious fight. I respect Canelo’s team.
“This is a big day not only for us, but for boxing and this era. This will be a huge, historic fight at T-Mobile Arena.”
“This event needs no hype whatsoever,” said Oscar De La Hoya, co-promoting the fight on behalf of his client Alvarez. “This is a fight that’s a can’t-miss event. That’s the bottom line.
“It’s going to be a great fight because of what is at stake: pride and fighting for your country and boxing fans. This is a fight for the sport of boxing, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The stakes couldn’t be higher.”