Back in 2015, when a potential mega-fight between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KO’s) and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KO’s) was being rumored, oddsmakers offshore listed Golovkin as a -350 betting favorite. But two years later when the bout was finally confirmed for Sept. 16, 2017, perception had changed and bookmakers installed the still undefeated GGG as a much lower favorite, at -165.
Though the current unified WBA (Super), WBC, and IBO Middleweight Champion had not lost a fight, Golovkin did not look as unbeatable as he had just a few years prior. He did beat Kell Brook and Daniel Jacobs within that time span, but GGG was now 35 years of age and hadn’t walked through his opponents as easily as before. Some started to even question whether he was starting to decline and no longer in his prime.
The stock on Alvarez was continuing to climb even though his promotion company Golden Boy was accused of protecting him by delaying a bout with Golovkin. Rather than take the super-fight, Canelo went on to beat Amir Khan, Liam Smith and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Eventually the fight was set.
When Canelo and GGG finally met inside T-Mobile Arena it was one of the most highly anticipated bouts in a very long time.
Come fight-night most sportsbooks had significant exposure on the underdog Alvarez, which isn’t surprising for combat sports. Unlike most professional sports where casual bettors (public) disproportionately back the favorites, they tend to bet the underdog in both boxing and mixed martial arts.
With combat sports using a money-line instead of a point-spread, the hope of making a “score” usually puts recreational bettors on the side of the dog.
The majority of Las Vegas books were Golovkin fans for that first fight. The bout ending in a draw was ultimately not a good result as all straight bets on Canelo and GGG had to be refunded. Even worse than not turning a profit after all that work, sportsbooks had to pay out bets on a draw, which had odds of up to 30-1. Plenty of tickets were written on draw as many casual bettors looked for the big pay out.
Rather than waste your time reviewing that first fight, I’ll just say, like the majority of who watched, I too scored the bout in favor of Golovkin, 8-4. Now I know some of those rounds were very closely contested and judging boxing is subjective, but no matter how many times I’ve watched the fight I can’t give Alvarez six rounds.
But that’s neither here nor there because all that really matters is what’s going to happen this coming Saturday night. As we go to print Golovkin is listed as a -140 betting favorite at Westgate SuperBook, with Alvarez +120. Total Rounds Over/Under set at 11.5, with OVER a -240 favorite. The opening odds were GGG -170 so more money has been bet on Canelo. I expect that trend to continue heading into fight night and won’t be surprised to see the line drop even more at some shops.
There is a lot to like about both fighters heading into the rematch.
For Canelo, he’s now felt the punching power of Golovkin and showed his chin can handle it a lot better than most. He’s also a lot younger and I believe at 28 physically at his peak. His youth also serves him well as he’s still growing as a fighter and should be able to make more adjustments.
Canelo did an excellent job of slipping GGG’s punches but he wasn’t able to make his opponent pay for those misses, and it cost him. As a counter puncher he’s prefers fighters who come forward but he must pick spots to try backing Golovkin up and not allow him to get into a rhythm.
For GGG, the difficulty comes in improving on his last performance since it appeared he did what was needed to win. I believe he gave Canelo too much respect early on and didn’t apply enough pressure when he had him against the ropes. That allowed Alvarez to slip, counter, and move out of the way.
Though Golovkin continued to walk Canelo down and appeared more aggressive throughout, he wasn’t able to maintain the pressure. In fact, it appeared as if GGG was starting to tire toward the later rounds, making Canelo look like the fresher fighter.
Bottom line, I’ve got an opinion on this fight that I’m backing with my cash. I’m confident we’ll see a much more comfortable GGG this time around, having never fought in Las Vegas prior. I also believe he’ll work behind his jab more and control the distance better by not constantly walking Canelo down.
Historically Golovkin does his best work moving forward but against a pure counter-puncher like Alvarez, he’ll need to use his range and keep the fight in the middle of the ring at times. Canelo actually did some of his best work when backed up against the ropes, which also allowed him to make Golovkin chase and tire quicker.
Golovkin will have an easier time in the rematch now that he’s seen Canelo’s movement and speed. I expect he’ll be in even better condition knowing he may have to go 12 rounds again and win even more convincingly. I look for Canelo to have his moments but Golovkin’s pressure and power will do more damage as the fight progresses and get him the win. Pick – Golovkin