The GGG-Canelo bout this weekend promises to be the year’s best fight.
The 35-year-old Gennady Golovkin is a battle-hardened Eastern European monster — Basically a nicer, real-life version of Ivan Drago from Rocky IV.
Canelo, 27, is a red-headed Mexican whose only loss came against the great Floyd Mayweather. Blessed with incredible hand speed and uncanny power, Canelo is one of boxing’s most explosive fighters.
GGG’s road to the top has been arduous and fraught with tragedy. Hailing from the former Soviet Union (present-day Kazakhstan), Golovkin acquired his sauce the old fashioned way: fighting on the streets. He would walk around town while his older brothers picked fights with grown men for pint-sized Gennady.
“My brothers, they were doing that from when I was in kindergarten. Every day, different guys, ” Golovkin told Sports Illustrated in 2013.
Those older brothers, Sergey and Vadim, are both dead; killed four years apart fighting for the Soviet Army. GGG’s twin brother Max, a boxing prodigy himself, gave up the sport because their parents could only afford to pay for one brother to get proper training. With that said, every time GGG enters the ring, he’s fighting to honor the memory of his dead brothers, and for Max, who sacrificed his own career to see Gennady get to the top.
At 35, Father Time is creeping up on GGG. He was a late arrival to America; a contract with a bogus German boxing promoter kept him toiling away in Europe in relative obscurity for the first 23 fights of his career. In 2012, the undefeated Golovkin made his American debut, and he’s been on a warpath ever since. At 37-0 with 33 knockouts, GGG holds the highest KO percentage (89%) for a boxer in middleweight history.
In addition to having some of the heaviest hands in boxing, GGG has a metal chin. In 387 fights — both amateur and professional — he’s been knocked down exactly zero times. Look no further than his 2013 fight against Curtis Stevens for proof; GGG eats punches that no man should be able to withstand.
A humble man, Golovkin is a true champion who’s been waiting his whole life for a fight of this magnitude. With a guaranteed purse of at least $10 million (compared to Canelo’s $12 million, not counting points from PPV buys) this is the biggest fight of GGG’s career.
Canelo, by contrast, has seemingly been in the spotlight his whole life. He turned pro at just 15 and he’s been on the big stage before — once against Floyd Mayweather in 2013 and again against Miguel Cotto in 2014.
Though he grew up in Mexico — 7,500 miles away from Kazakhstan — there is a common thread linking GGG and Canelo: it was his older brother, Rigoberto, that got Canelo into boxing.
“I helped him put them on. He was only 11 years old. He was not supposed to punch that hard and I remember saying, ‘God has given us a gift,'” Rigoberto said on HBO’s 24/7.
Fresh off a lopsided win against countryman Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (a fight where he failed to deliver a knockout despite abusing his opponent for 12 rounds), Canelo is eager to put on a show for the fans and fight a man who can actually test his mettle.
Only a few weeks removed from the Mayweather-McGregor circus that captivated the world’s attention, this is the fight the boxing community’s been waiting for all year; the real fight. Two men who have dedicated their whole lives to boxing finally meeting in the ring; trial by combat. GGG and Canelo both enter as champions, but one will emerge a legend.