Saul “Canelo” Alvarez entered his middleweight championship rematch Saturday night with Gennady Glovokin as the biggest active PPV draw in boxing.
In pugilism however, inspiring the most fans does not always translate to elite level results, how many big draws in boxing have flown by the boards when they were truly tested?
In Canelo, boxing was gifted a star attraction that not only brought mainstream attention to the sport, not only does Canelo bring the passion of a rabid Mexican fan base, but the kid can also fight.
“George Clooney with boxing gloves” as the great Larry Merchant used to say.
Canelo can box, bang, move, and think in the ring, one of the most dangerous boxer punchers the sport has ever seen,
Canelo also seeks out challenges, continually taking on fighters, and circumstances that his protective handlers have advised against, and coming out on top anyway.
Austin Trout, or even Lara, Canelo is special because he is stubborn, and that disposition made him an all time great at the age of 26.
When Canelo finally agreed to share the ring with GGG, many in boxing wrote him off, and with good reason.
GGG was a career middleweight with a knockout streak that stretched around the block, the latter feat made him the bogey man of boxing, a fighter that everyone was terrified of at 160 pounds.
GGG fought weak opposition for most of his career, and ducked fighters that he perceived to have physical advantages, GGG avoided Andre Ward for years because of this.
Despite bypassing Andre Ward, and only engaging with welterweights and gatekeepers, GGG was still considered by most “experts” to be the pound for pound #1 fighter in the world.
Mayweather was Canelo’s most difficult fight, but GGG represented the biggest risk to his health due to his relentless style of attack.
In the first fight with Glovokin, Canelo fought well, but not well enough to justify a victory, the fact that the fight was ruled a draw was seen as a gift to many hardened observers.
Canelo spent the entire fight on his back foot, rarely coming forward, and pressing the action, the Mexican landed the most eye catching blows, but because he was on his bike most of the fight, the perception was that he defeated by the bigger and stronger middleweight.
That decision hurt Canelo, but it didn’t break him, and set the table for a massive rematch.
Canelo ran into problems after the first fight, the drug test fiasco, knee surgery, the suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, some believe the chain of events tainted Canelo’s career beyond repair.
Which was a valid concern at the time, Canelo’s position as boxing’s biggest star was in serious jeopardy headed into last night’s tilt.
To make matters worse, Canelo’s physical appearance was drastically different in wake of the drug testing protocol he was forced to enter after the first fight.
Canelo’s shoulders, arms, and neck, looked noticeably smaller during fight week, the boxing world was abuzz over the complete change in Canlo’s physical profile.
It seemed to confirm he was a drug cheat, a liar, and a disgrace to boxing.
Fans all over the internet believed two things.
- Canelo certainly was juicing before the first fight
- Now that he no longer had the juice, he was a sitting duck for an angry GGG.
As it turns out, everyone was wrong.
Canelo wasn’t thinner because of drug testing, he was thinner because he was in shape, fully prepared to go the full 12 rounds with the big bad bully of the sport.
The fight was incredible, and cemented Canelo as an all time great.
From the very first round, Canelo was in the pocket, pressing the action, landing punches, and dictating a pace that GGG had never seen before, GGG found himself doing something he was not accustomed too.
GGG was on his back foot from the opening bell as Canelo peppered him with bruising body shots, the liver, the kidney, no organs were spared from Canelo’s rage.
Canelo also conditioned GGG with the left hook, a weapon he didn’t employ in the first fight to the degree he needed too, while the body shots did damage, it was the left hooks that changed the fight completely in the opening salvo.
The body shots, and left hooks, transformed GGG into a tentative, and limited fighter, he had no answer for the aggression of Canelo.
Before the fight, Canelo’s team claimed that GGG was “a donkey that could only do one thing”, if he was forced to do anything else, he would fold.
That certainly played out last night, Canelo kept the fight in the center of the ring, and punished GGG for 12 rounds, beat him up, broke him down, and truly took away his lust for combat.
Canelo controlled the the fight, it’s incredibly ridiculous to argue otherwise.
It got so bad, that the HBO’s Jim Lampley was SEARCHING for reasons to compliment GGG, even going as far as to suggest that landing jabs is more important than landing debilitating body shots.
GGG is certainly getting older, but Canelo might have ended his career as a top fighter during those middle rounds, GGG has never in his life taking that type of sustained beating, it was vicious at times.
GGG constantly refers to his ring persona as “Mexican Style”, in fact, he has used that mantra for years, even doing so to take jabs at his Mexican rival.
What we saw last night was a Mexican style brawl, but only one of the fighters was circling the ring, and running from the exchanges, GGG’s gimmick went up in smoke last night, and based on the fact that he challenged the smaller man to fight him toe to toe prior to the fight, and then couldn’t handle the heat, it might be time to to call a spade a spade.
GGG was a career middleweight that didn’t fight anyone that matters for a decade, he hid behind mandatories, and his management team to craft a product that was never entirely genuine, and it showed last night.
Most of the media built him up as a destroyer, an unbeatable machine that only seemed to take on fighters that didn’t have the firepower to truly hurt him.
Last night, the hype train was derailed,GGG was exposed as both a fighter, and an attraction, the fact that he was beaten up by a much smaller man at a weight he has campaigned at for his entire career is a scathing indictment on his career.
To call him one of the greatest middleweights of all time is officially irresponsible, the man padded his recored against faded/unworthy opposition, and was throughly beaten the first time he saw an elite fighter.
ATG middleweights don’t get their soul snatched by career jr middleweights.
To make matters worse, GGG showed a complete lack of class in defeat, disrespecting the fans, and his opponent, by leaving the ring before addressing all the people that made him wealthy.
It truly was a revealing moment, insight into the character of the fighter.
When Canelo lost to Floyd Mayweather, he was devastated, even cried in the ring, but he faced defeat, and the fans.
GGG lost the fight, and the event, but when bolted from the ring, and then didn’t give Canelo his credit afterwards, he lost much more than a fight.
He lost respect.
Dollars to donuts?
Canelo broke GGG, the man, and the myth, and in doing so, became the greatest fighter of his generation.
GGG meanwhile had a good run, inspired the public, provided us with highlight reel knockouts, provided boxing fans with a worthy successor to Benard Hopkins.
That’s over now, and if GGG knows what’s good for him, so is his career.