Gennady Golovkin has just about moved across the line from worst-kept secret in boxing to sports celebrity and Saúl “Canelo” Alvárez, a genuine superstar in Mexico, is being sold as one of the few rivals at middleweight capable of testing the remarkable Kazak champion.
That is a taking a considerable leap of faith going on Alvárez’s one-dimensional performance in outpointing the aged Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas at the weekend.
An unusually emotional Alvárez told Max Kellerman in the ring: “Much respect to Miguel Cotto. He’s a great champion. But now it’s my era.”
Canelo Alvarez is now boxing’s biggest star as Gennady Golovkin looms
Not quite. What of a challenge to the unbeaten Golovkin? “I’d put the gloves on and fight him right now. I respect him, he’s a great champion, I know him, he’s a friend of mine but, right now, I’d put the gloves on against him.”
If only. As it happens Golovkin was in the audience at the Mandalay Bay Casino but, unbeaten in 34 fights with 31 stoppage wins, he saw nothing that would disturb his self-confidence.
Although Alvárez, who is now 45-1-1 (the loss coming at welterweight against Floyd Mayweather, who also beat Cotto at that weight) deserved the win, Cotto did not deserve the disrespect of the judge Dave Moretti who gave him only one round. The others weren’t much better. Burt Clements saw it 118-110, Moretti 119-109 and John McKaie 117-111.
Moretti, who has been around boxing most of his life and who rightly favoured Sugar Ray Leonard by 115-113 in his 1987 Marvin Hagler fight, looks to be ready for retirement.
Alvárez might be the linear champion – for all that is worth – but Golovkin has the belts and, more importantly, the power to break down the extraordinarily solid Mexican. He would win with rounds to spare.
On the undercard, the 31-year-old Bristolian Lee Haskins – who is shedding his “Playboy” nickname as his boxing matures nicely – was gifted the world IBF bantamweight title when the unbeaten champion, Randy Cabbalero, failed to make weight by a spectacular five-and-a-half pounds, dire even by recent standards of fighters coming in over the limit.
Anthony Crolla, who was beaten senseless by a burglar just before last Christmas, could not have looked happier in celebrating his fifth-round stoppage of Darleys Pérez in front of Manchester fans on Saturday night to make the WBA lightweight belt his own. Eddie Hearn has promised the likeable Crolla “some really big fights” in 2016 and few fighters are more deserving of cashing on his excellent skills.
Martin Murray had a fourth shot at a world title, edged out over 12 rounds by the ageless Arthur Abraham at super-middleweight in Germany, to go with three failed attempts at middle: a draw with Felix Sturm and defeats by Sergio Martínez (dubious) and Golovkin (emphatic).
The St Helen’s boxer is 33 – the same age as Golovkin – but has enough in the tank to come again. If he were to win a title at the fifth time of asking he would be going one attempt further than Frank Bruno.
Perhaps he would more profitably steered towards George Groves, who exists on the edges now of the British 12st universe and on Monday announced he was returning to the ring at the Copper Box in London on 30 January.
“This is a chance for me start the New Year on the front foot,” Groves said on Monday. “I want to get as many fights as possible and start building momentum as I work my way back into world title contention.” No opponent has been named.
Groves’s former stablemate, David Haye, will announce his comeback at the O2 Arena in London on Tuesday, ending a three-and-a-half year absence.
A rival who will give the news scant attention is Tyson Fury, whose preparation for his world title challenge against Wladimir Klitschko in Germany on Saturday has been suitably loud. In trying to emulate the fabled antics of Muhammad Ali, Fury is at least bringing some entertainment to a Klitschko fight which, for all their grinding competence, are invariably dull affairs.
Britain has 11 of what Fury derides as “just British world champions”. If he beat Klitschko, who has ruled with barely a disturbance to his greatness for more than a decade, he will be able to claim he is a genuine world champion, the best heavyweight in the world.-TheGuirdian