Mutual contempt (Part two): Canelo Alvarez seeks a knockout in Gennady Golovkin rematch
Within an hour of the first fight being made public last year, Oscar De La Hoya tentatively named Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin “Bombs Away.” That wouldn’t have aged well had they gone forward with that billing, not because of the shell-shock over one judge’s misguided scorecard but because there were very few bombs landed that night in the ring. Sometimes De La Hoya will offhandedly say things without thinking them through or perhaps these same candid moments are just his truth, speaking straight from the heart without needing to process things mentally. Maybe that’s just the wiring of a promoter, who will say anything to sell a fight, like when he called Canelo vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. the biggest fight in the storied history of Mexican boxing. They packed the house that night in Las Vegas, at the T-Mobile Arena, and well over 20,000 Mexican fans choreographed one of the best renditions of the Mexican National Anthem, setting the scene for such a fight to take place. Seemingly all of those fans were booing midway through the fight, as it was clear they were duped into a blatant mismatch, in which the son of a legend showed more enthusiasm making weight than he did fighting. Unless you were of the reported one million HBO pay-per-view customers (one million!), saving the night – sort of – was the announcement of Canelo-Golovkin I but there was no preserving the discontent in that post-fight press conference, no matter how many times De La Hoya called it a great fight. That’s because it simply wasn’t.
Before entering the media round table on Sunday afternoon, Canelo Alvarez didn’t get to see or hear De La Hoya pop in to praise WBO junior middleweight titlist Jaime Munguia about his style of fighting but, by all accounts, the Mexican superstar would’ve disagreed with the notion of “fighting like a Mexican.”
“There’s no defined style,” Alvarez said. “There have been many fighters to come from Mexico, who have different styles, so I don’t think there’s a defined Mexican style. My style is my own. I’m Mexican; that’s the most important.” As for his rival’s pandering to Canelo’s fellow countrymen, coining the phrase “Mexican Style” in the process, Alvarez continued about Golovkin, “I think it’s hypocritical. He’s a hypocrite. Maybe he uses it to get him some fans but he’s a hypocrite. If something tragic were to occur in Mexico, he wouldn’t be there.”
Just a few days after fighting to a competitive draw with Golovkin, Alvarez donated one million dollars toward disaster relief, in the wake of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake striking Mexico. It was an act not only signifying Canelo’s generosity but also his wealth, which was one of the qualms with his reasoning behind the disaster that struck earlier this year. One week after Canelo and Golovkin faced off at the press conference announcing the Cinco de Mayo rematch – which is the last time they’ve done so – it was learned that Alvarez had tested positive for traces of clenbuterol in two separate VADA drug tests administered last February. Conveniently perhaps, there was no worldwide promotional tour for the proposed rematch, evading an awkward tour stop that would’ve amounted to nothing. A few weeks later – after it was learned the Nevada State Athletic Commission would drop an inevitable suspension in a scheduled hearing – Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions held a press conference announcing the rematch’s cancellation and proclaimed the innocence of the Mexican superstar.
The tainted beef in Mexico was to blame for Canelo’s positive tests, which has been a well-documented issue south of the border. Jose “Chepo” Reynoso, Alvarez’s lifetime coach and former butcher, could tell you more about it but, in his protege’s case, the 28-year old blamed his own ignorance for eating steroid-injected beef in Mexico for his failed drug test (an illegal practice stateside). Considering Alvarez is such an accomplished prizefighter, if there was any Mexican boxer who could afford to ensure something like this wouldn’t happen, it would be him. More than anything, the process of clearing his name involved time, leading to a underwhelming investigation that involved a hair follicle test which showed no signs of clenbuterol. Whether Canelo took clenbuterol intentionally or not is still up for debate, though either argument will bring you back right where we are today. Surely there is added pressure on Canelo to supersede his performance against Golovkin a year ago but with 20 days until September 15, there wasn’t much pressure from media to talk about the subject.
“I use it as motivation. I don’t really pay attention to things like that. The negativity hasn’t bothered me at all,” said Canelo about the scandal. As for the pressure in its aftermath, Canelo said, “No. I’ve been in big camps and and I have a lot of experience. More than anything, I’m excited about this fight but, due to the experience that I have, I’m not feeling that pressure.
“I’m very motivated more than anything and I’m also confident about this fight. I’m motivated because of all that’s been said and I’m motivated to get in the ring and hurt (Golovkin). I’m also very confident. Not confident in my opponent because I know who I’m fighting but I’m confident in my preparation and what I’m going to do in the ring. There is more motivation for me to continue training harder, not only what’s been said but also the fans that I have and the support they give me. They’ve given me more motivation to train harder for this fight.”
Alvarez, 49-1-2 (34), should feel confident going into the rematch, based on his performance in the first fight. Had he thrown more punches and not be content with just positioning himself on the ropes, there’d be a greater argument for him winning. The speed, the defense and the ring generalship was all there for Canelo, who needed to end on a higher note to avoid a defeat completely.
“Various times I’ve seen the first fight and I think the error that I made was seeing opportunities and not taking advantage,” Alvarez admitted. “The opportunities for me to counterpunch, I have to take them in this rematch.”
Sitting next to Alvarez was Eddy Reynoso, son of Chepo and the lead cornerman who smartly recognized the need to crack the whip on Canelo before the 10th round started. The final three rounds were more like the fight everyone had expected and Alvarez got the better of Golovkin, 38-0-1 (34), once there were risky exchanges. In response to the most vocal defender of Golovkin’s performance and the allegations toward Canelo, Golovkin’s coach Abel Sanchez, Eddy took the opportunity to fire off some of his thoughts during the sit-down.
“More than anything, what I saw is that (Golovkin)’s a very awkward and slow fighter. Every time I see his fights, I see more and more that he’s slow and awkward. He’s a basic and common fighter,” said Reynoso, before being asked if his counterpart can improve the 36-year-old. “No, he hasn’t learned anything, especially since he hasn’t fought in a year. We’re in the same place right now because fighting against a heavy bag (Vanes Martirosyan) last time isn’t considered a fight. At 36 years of age, there’s nothing really you can teach this guy. What they have taught him is to run his mouth.”
Golovkin may have a newfound disrespect for Canelo, in light of everything that has happened thus far. From the ring invitations to the vacating of the WBC title to the waiting to the defensive boxing to the judging to the failed drug tests, Canelo has given Golovkin plenty of reasons to run his mouth. Since his invasion of the United States, Golovkin was never this vocal about anything unless it involved charming fans with various catch-phrases of broken English in post-knockout victory. From the onset, it has been a classic case of the grass roots promotion going up against the establishment and, along the way, Golovkin got caught up in the web of the boxing business himself. Yet the benefit of every doubt has been given to Alvarez, until this point but, if his own words bare any truth, perhaps the fight we’ve all been looking for in the first place will arise from this bitter feud.
“Yes, I’m looking for the knockout,” Alvarez stated. “That’s what I want and that’s my objective. Like I’ve been saying in previous interviews, the first fight gave me the guideline for the second fight. So I know I can knock him out because I hurt him last fight and that’s what I want to do.
“The most important thing is that however we win, it has to be very convincing and has to be won by knockout, to leave no doubts…Never in my life have I felt how I feel today.”