Gennady Golovkin facing mission impossible against Canelo in Vegas

Golovkin’s mission impossible: GGG has already got the better of Canelo Alvarez (arguably twice) yet not come away with the decision – and the 40-year-old is now an ageing force – so does he stand ANY chance of making it third time lucky this weekend?

  • Gennady Golovkin is set to take on Canelo Alvarez for a third time in Las Vegas
  • The Kazakh fighter was held to a controversial draw in his first clash with Canelo
  • He then suffered an equally contentious loss when he faced the Mexican again
  • Canelo has been gifted some generous scorecards in Sin City over the years
  • So at 40 years old, Golovkin is almost facing mission impossible this weekend 

As their thrilling 36-minute war drew to a close, Gennady Golovkin jolted Canelo Alvarez’s head back with one lasting uppercut before the final bell chimed in Sin City.

The two great rivals had just put on a classic under the bright lights of Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, exchanging fists relentlessly in an epic sequel to their controversial first encounter. But for Golovkin, there was only one winner.

After initially embracing Canelo at the bell, the Kazakh fighter raised one arm in the air while being held aloft in jubilation by trainer Abel Sanchez, adamant that they had edged this rematch on the scorecards.

Gennady Golovkin’s last encounter with Canelo Alvarez was enthralling from start to finish

The pair embraced when it drew to a close, but Golovkin was adamant he had done enough

What followed, however, was another deeply contentious decision that Golovkin still refuses to accept to this day. 

Because instead it was Canelo, the beneficiary of a disputed split-decision draw the first time around, who prevailed in Paradise thanks to two scores of 115-113 and a redundant 114-114 verdict. 

As the Mexican celebrated his triumph, a bewildered and demoralised Golovkin looked around vacantly before exiting the ring and heading back to his dressing room in disgust.

Four years, four months and 12 days on from that sorry night in Vegas, he returns to the very same arena this weekend in a bid to make it third time lucky against Canelo. Though at the age of 40 and with his best days seemingly behind him, GGG is almost facing mission impossible.

When he first locked horns with Alvarez in September 2017, Golovkin entered the contest as perhaps the most avoided fighter in world boxing, exuding a fearsome air of invincibility after coming through a thrilling battle with Daniel Jacobs to retain his WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight titles.

But it was Canelo whose hand was raised in deeply controversial fashion on the night

Golovkin still refuses to accept that contentious decision to this day and insists he won

The two great rivals are now poised to meet for a third time in Las Vegas this weekend

He had claimed 37 straight victories, 34 knockouts and was widely considered one of the top pound-for-pound stars on the planet. Simply put, GGG seemed an unstoppable force at that time.

His mega-fight with Canelo was supposed to be the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, though in the end it certainly didn’t play out that way.

Alvarez held his own and contributed to a truly memorable scrap, with both men proving their unparalleled punch resistance by shaking off right hands that would leave most fighters seeing stars.

Yet on the whole, the boxing world appeared in agreement that Golovkin had got the better of his adversary. The middleweight king was the educated aggressor over 12 rounds, pushing Canelo back to the ropes frequently and somewhat overwhelming him in a classy, powerful display.

While he may have only edged it by two or three rounds, Golovkin was the clear victor and deserved to retain his three championships. In the end he did exactly that, but via a split-decision draw.

One judge scored the bout 114-114, with another leaning 115-113 towards GGG. The other, still ridiculed to this day, was a scandalous 118-110 to Canelo from Adalaide Byrde.

Golovkin was one of the leading fighters on the planet when he first met Canelo back in 2017

But five years on he is now seemingly past the peak of his powers at the age of 40

So, if he could not do enough to sway the judges at the peak of his powers, how on earth can Golovkin expect to do so in the twilight of his career? The veteran is staring a mountainous task directly in the face on Saturday night. 

Not only is he the natural outsider against Canelo – who has boxed four times in the last 18 months, and become an undisputed champion at super-middleweight, while he has competed just once – but GGG is arguably doomed even if he manages to edge a tight affair.

To prevail on the scorecards against the PPV superstar it seems a one-sided beatdown is mandatory, as Dmitry Bivol discovered earlier this year. 

The Russian light-heavyweight outmuscled, out-thought and outclassed Canelo back in May, barely dropping a round against his overmatched opponent, only to scrape the win via three bafflingly narrow 115-113 results.

Even in his one-sided defeat against Dmitry Bivol, Canelo was gifted a generous scorecard

One judge even scored his conclusive loss at the hands of Floyd Mayweather as a draw

Even in his man-versus-boy schooling at the hands of Floyd Mayweather in 2013, where the boxing legend cruised to a routine victory, he received an inexplicable 114-114 score from judge C.J. Ross.

While not implying foul play, the Guadalajara fighter has a history of benefitting from controversial decisions, meaning it is only realistic to assume Golovkin is already up against it in their much-anticipated trilogy.

Since his win over Kamil Szeremeta in December 2020, the unified middleweight champion has only enjoyed a comfortable stoppage of Ryota Murata back in April, his only outing of the last 21 months.

You have to scroll back even further to recall the last time he contested a meaningful fight, too – and that contrastingly saw him receive a generous points verdict after a sluggish display. Sergiy Derevyanchenko arguably inflicted Golovkin’s first genuine defeat that night, only to find himself on the wrong end of a questionable call.

Golovkin is almost facing mission impossible in his trilogy bout against the Mexican

In the twilight of his career, Golovkin will need to produce an age-defying, career-best performance if he is to finally prevail on paper against his arch-nemesis. 

Of course there is the chance Canelo could still be reeling from his beating against Bivol, though the 168lbs king is still the man to beat in this division and, instead, will likely be inspired by the thought of redemption this weekend.

GGG, meanwhile, is stepping up from 160lbs for the very first time, throwing another obstacle for him to overcome into the mix.

Yet if he rolls back the years and pulls off the unthinkable in Paradise, Golovkin will ride off into the sunset with a fairytale ending in the bag.

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