LAS VEGAS — Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin are not facing the same problems tonight, when they square off for the undisputed middleweight championship, but the solution to them is eerily similar. Neither best stay too long in front of the other. For whom this becomes the bigger problem is likely to be the one who leaves T-Mobile Arena wealthier but with his reputation seriously devalued.
Golovkin holds the WBA, WBC and IBF titles, is undefeated (37-0, 33 KOs) and has knocked out 23 of the last 24 men he’s faced. He’s a 2-1 betting favorite and the heavier handed of the two. He does not possess classic one-punch knockout power like Tommy Hearns but he throws heavy shots behind a lethal jab that in combination wear opponents down with the kind of destructive consequences that left welterweight champion Kell Brook literally with a broken face.
It is not the kind of power that can be ignored. It must be respected from the opening bell until the final one, a fact not lost on Alvarez’ longtime trainers, Jose “Chepo” Reynoso and his son Eddy.
“We know there is dynamite in front of us,” Chepo conceded. “We have to pay attention so it doesn’t explode that night. His power is something we have to be wary of. We respect his power. We know what it is.”
To prevent that explosion, Alvarez must first neutralize or at least find ways to cope with Golovkin’s stiff jab. It is not simply a range finder. It is like a terrible, swift sword capable of inflicting serious damage, the kind that can set up power punches behind it later in a fight. Because of that, it is a tricky proposition.
“It’s not just the jab that has to be neutralized,” Eddy Reynoso said. “It’s a lot of aspects. He doesn’t just have the jab. He’s a very aggressive fighter, a very strong fighter that comes forward and will take a couple of punches to land one.”
It is that aspect of Golovkin’s attack that has led some to argue he has more of a “Mexican style” than Alvarez, a born-and-bred Mexican but one who is more a counter puncher than someone willing to take two punches to land one. That approach has worked well for the Kazakhstan-born Golovkin, who is considered among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Because of that no one anticipates much of a change in his style unless Alvarez’ faster hands, counter punching and body shots force him to adjust.
“Canelo has very fast hands and he throws two and three combinations in a row,”…