Canelo Alvarez believes he is meeting Gennady Golovkin at precisely the right time, with the world champion in decline.
The Mexican challenges Golovkin for his three world middleweight title belts in a highly-anticipated clash at the T-Mobile Arena Saturday.
Golovkin, 35, has been champion since December 2010, made 18 title defences and knocked out 33 opponents in an unbeaten 37-fight career. However, in his last outing in March, Daniel Jacobs took him to points for the first time in his career.
“I don’t see him getting better,” Canelo said when speaking to reporters in London in June. “Jacobs gave him too much respect in the early rounds. He really started fighting in the fifth round on.
“I actually had Jacobs winning by one point or two, but if Jacobs hadn’t given him that respect and had started sooner, he would have beaten him easily.”
While Triple G reserved praise for his upcoming opponent, he didn’t share the same opinion on his last bout.
“I take experience from it, not learn a lot because every fight is different, every fighter is different,” Golovkin said. “Jacobs is not Canelo — different size, different speed, different style, different boxing IQ. Right now is new story, it’s new for us.
“Canelo is very good. He has a good boxing IQ, speed and combinations. He is very strong, he is a true fighter, not a fake fighter. He has a warrior’s heart. I know Canelo, Canelo knows me. It’s a 50-50 fight, who lands first.”
This isn’t the first time they’ve shared the ring together, though. But while the pair sparred together at Golovkin’s mountain gym at Big Bear Lake in California, neither holds the experience in much stock.
“We were both getting ready for a fight, both champions,” Alvarez said. “I don’t put too much thinking into the sparring. I was 20 when it happened. Sparring’s very different to an actual fight, we were helping each other out.”
Golovkin concurred. “We didn’t go very hard in the sparring, it was regular sparring, I helped him, I remember. I was just playing, just boxing, not a crazy fight or anything. Boxing very correctly, using speed and tactics.”
Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs), from Guadalajara, has one blemish on his record — a points defeat to Floyd Mayweather at super-welterweight four years ago. While the fight with Golovkin might not match Mayweather’s comeback against Conor McGregor in terms of numbers, it certainly rivals last month’s showdown in stature.
“Boxing needs a fight like this,” said Alvarez’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya, a world champion in six weight divisions. “This is like Sugar Ray-Marvin Hagler, or Thomas Hearns-Roberto Duran all over again.”
De La Hoya insisted the style of both pugilists would make for a wonderful fight. Golovkin stands slightly bigger of the two, but Alvarez, 27, is not deterred.
“It doesn’t mean that he’s stronger than me,” Canelo said. “If you look at his knockouts and my knockouts, mine are a little better than his. It’s not just about the power. It’s about precision — and I’ve attained that.”
World straps will of course be on the line but, for many, this is a fight to determine the current No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Golovkin, in his typically humble manner, does not see it that way.
“No.1 in middleweight division? Yes. Pound-for-pound? Everybody is different,” said Golovkin, who avoids trash-talk and boasting.
“Andre Ward looks good, Vasyl Lomachenko looks good, Anthony Joshua looks good. Different weights, different fighters. I think this is the best fight for boxing and us.”