Canelo vs Golovkin 3 will finally end a bitterly controversial rivalry

CANELO vs GOLOVKIN PREVIEW: Two questionable results, a failed drugs test and a third bout both desperately need to win… a rivalry littered with controversy should finally come to a conclusive ending in Vegas

  • ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin square off for a third time on Saturday 
  • They have shared the ring for 24 rounds, with both fights going the distance 
  • The first ended in a draw, with Canelo taking the second by majority decision
  • This time, Canelo’s complete set of super-middleweight titles are on the line
  • Canelo fell to a shock unanimous decision defeat to Dmitry Bivol last time out 

A rivalry littered with controversy renews next weekend as bitter foes Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin complete their iconic trilogy in Las Vegas. 

Two pound-for-pound greats over the last decade have shared the ring on two prior occasions, both of which have gone the distance and ended in highly controversial fashion. 

Canelo escaped with a split-decision draw in their first encounter in 2017, in a bout most believe he lost, before nicking a majority-decision victory in their highly-anticipated rematch almost exactly a year later to the day in another result marred by controversy. 

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (left) and Gennady Golovkin (right) square off for a third time on Saturday

The long-term rivals have fought at middleweight in both of their prior encounters, a division which a 40-year-old Golovkin now rules again after defeating Ryota Murata in an intriguing unification bout earlier in the year. 

Four years later, however, they will be competing for Canelo’s complete set of super-middleweight belts, which the 32-year-old claimed with quickfire victories over Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant.

As they prepare to grace Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena for a third and, most likely, final time, victory is paramount for both: for Canelo, to provide a much-needed reminder he remains one of boxing’s greatest assets after losing to Dmitry Bivol in May; for Golovkin, to right the wrongs of the past with retirement imminently looming.

Perhaps equally if not more pertinent for both is the opportunity to get one over on their great rival – in a match-up that is personal for both, for varying reasons – and a fateful evening on September 17 will provide that. 

The long-term rivals have fought twice before, ending a draw and a Canelo decision win

They came face-to-face in June for the first time since their last fight nearly four years ago

Unlike next weekend’s still-intriguing showdown, Canelo and Golovkin stood arguably as the world’s two best fighters when they first went toe-to-toe on September 16, 2017, on a night that left a bitter taste in the mouths of boxing fans around the globe. 

Golovkin, then a 37-0 middleweight monster, once again exhibited his frightening prowess as, to the vast majority of onlookers, he proved himself to be perhaps the greatest middleweight to ever step inside the squared circle. 

Sportsmail scored the bout 118-111 in favour of the typically battle-ready Kazakh, though that’s not to say Canelo didn’t have any success of his own, with Golovkin needing every bit of that world-renowned chin he’s become known for. 

The judges saw it differently, however. One criminally gave it 118-110 to Canelo, one somehow scored a 114-114 draw, and one, still perhaps being kind to the Mexican, saw it 115-113 in favour of Golovkin. 

As the champion, Golovkin left the arena with the WBC, WBA and IBF belts still by his side, though that will have done little to soften the blow of a robbery in broad daylight; even many of those who had attended to support Canelo booed the announcement of the result. 

The fans rightly demanded a rematch. And nearly exactly a year later they would get one. But, even before the pair had the opportunity to share the ring once more, a shadow was cast over the event. 

Canelo and Golovkin shared a controversial draw in their first encounter back in 2017 

The majority of onlookers had Golovkin as the clear winner against his now-bitter rival

Sportsmail scored it 118-110 to Golovkin, which one judge inexplicably gave in favour of Canelo

That’s because the rematch, which was first scheduled for May the following year, was initially scrapped after Canelo failed two drugs tests in February, with banned substance clenbuterol, an asthma prescription-only drug, found in his system.

Canelo pleaded his innocence, blaming contaminated meat after failing what was a voluntary drugs test. Golovkin believed otherwise, insisting: ‘I think he simply cannot look into my eyes, and that’s all, because he knows that I am correct with everything.’

The Mexican (at this point 49-1-2) was handed a backdated six-month ban, meaning he was free to fight from August 17. And on September 15, the middleweights would once again go in hunt of their legacy-defining moment. 

Slightly less was now on the table, however, after GGG was stripped of his IBF belt having failed to take on mandatory challenger, Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

This time, the fight was much closer. But again, Sportsmail gave Golovkin the nod, scoring it 116-113. And again, Golovkin was left bemused and broken-hearted as the judges saw it differently. 

Like their first encounter, one judge saw it even at 114-114, but this time the other two scored it in favour of the Mexican, both seeing it 115-113 to Canelo. 

Canelo was understandably emotional in victory, while a distraught Golovkin left the ring immediately, unwilling to give an immediate interview. He did speak to reporters afterwards, though, stating: ‘I thought I fought better than he did. We would like to have a third fight, we will negotiate that, that’s what we want.’

It may have taken four years, but that’s where we find ourselves now. 

The eagerly-anticipated trilogy bout is finally taking place, in Las Vegas, on September 17

So, finally, round 25 is set to begin. 24 have come and gone, and few would be surprised if we get another 12 hard-fought three-minute stanzas on Saturday night. 

Now aged 40, and having fought just four times since his 2018 defeat to Canelo, Golovkin certainly comes into the bout as the underdog – regardless of the Mexican’s one-sided defeat to Bivol. 

And yet, even despite falling to two highly contentious decisions, the all-time great remains confident he can pull off a trilogy win.  

‘On one hand I’ve put the first two fights with Canelo behind me,’ Golovkin said. ‘They’re history to me, and I did not lose those fights.

‘I would have been very comfortable retiring off the back of those. But I’m very happy that I’ve got the third fight with him. 

‘It’s difficult for boxers to get even a rematch in certain situations so it’s a historic moment that the third fight is taking place. I believe it’s a good addition to the history of my career.

‘I’d like to assure you that I felt confident before the first fight, the second fight and I still feel confident before the third fight. I don’t feel any discomfort, any doubts and I’m fully prepared for this one too.’

Golovkin, now aged 40, insists he remains confident he can pull of an iconic trilogy victory

The motivations for Canelo are different. The Mexican still has the option of a rematch against Bivol next year, but demand for another light-heavyweight clash would surely fade with a second-straight defeat. 

There is, of course, also the small matter of retaining the four super-middleweight belts he worked so hard to claim, as well as the task of rebuilding his reputation following a damaging defeat. 

And, certainly at the forefront of Canelo’s mind, is finally putting to bed what has become a personal feud. 

‘He always pretends to be a nice guy, like in front of people,’ Canelo said of Golovkin in their June presser. ‘He’s an a**hole, that’s what he is. He’s an a**hole. It is what it is. 

‘I don’t pretend to be nice. This is the way I am. I don’t pretend to be another person. He’s always pretending in front of you and people, ‘Oh, I’m a nice guy’. He’s not.’

‘He always talk about I’m scared, I’m running away when I’m fighting the best guys out there and he’s fighting with Class D fighters,’ he added. ‘He’s talking a lot of things about me. That’s why it’s personal for me.’ 

Showing just how personal this feud is, Canelo has vowed to send his long-term rival into retirement next weekend.  

Whether that will prove to be the case remains to be seen, and just how much Golovkin has left in the tank is also an unknown. 

But while it’s possible we won’t get a spectacle quite as enthralling as the last two, the one thing we are all hoping for is that, this time, there is a conclusive ending – without controversy – to what has been on the of the great rivalries of a generation. 

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