Matthews: Canelo vs. GGG is Worth The Price Of Admission

If your budget only allowed for one pay-per-view purchase this month, and you spent it on August 26, I have no sympathy for you.

You threw your money away on a celebration of garbage, a further example of the dumbing-down of sports, and an empty spectacle that rewarded obnoxiousness and bluster while ignoring talent and merit.

You know what I’m talking about, and you know who I’m talking to.

If you wasted 100 bucks on Mayweather-McGregor, boxing equivalent of The Kardashians, and now find yourself a little short of cash to watch a real fight, tonight’s middleweight showdown between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, I have three words for you:

Too. Damned. Bad.

I’m not foolish enough to tell you GGG-Canelo is going to make anyone forget Ali-Frazier 1, Hagler-Hearns or Dempsey-Firpo, because I’ve seen too many “can’t-miss’’ matchups that turned out to be less than expected.

But I can tell you that at least this time, you are virtually assured of seeing a terrific fight, with a chance of seeing something truly memorable.

The only thing you were assured of on August 26 was being suckered.

And while you may not have gotten what you expected, you certainly got everything you deserved.

The entire premise was laughable – a novice boxer making his pro debut against one of the most talented, and cautious, fighters of all time. What could possibly go wrong?

Tonight’s match is the polar opposite, matching two of the most accomplished, and aggressive, fighters of our time, both of whom are close to their primes.

If it was your judgment to buy the former over the latter, I hope you are kicking yourself hard today.

And for your sake, I hope you have some generous and merciful friends who will invite you over to watch a real fight on their dime.

There was so many objectionable things about Mayweather-McGregor, not the least of which was the fact that McGregor, who in a boxing match couldn’t fight his way out of Gleason’s Gym on a Tuesday afternoon, probably made more money for that sham of a match than Golovkin and Canelo will make combined.

But the fact that we reward the wrong things in this country is hardly a new story.

And in hindsight, although it initially appeared as if McGregor had given himself an impossible task by choosing to fight Mayweather in his first pro fight, in hindsight it is obvious that Mayweather was the absolute best opponent he could have chosen.

After seeing his amateurish attempts at boxing – with plenty of help from Mayweather, who carried him for most of the fight – it was clear that had McGregor chosen to begin his career against a young, hungry kid like Terence Crawford or Errol Spence Jr. or Danny Garcia or Keith Thurman (need I go on?), he would have not only been lucky to escape the first round, but a hospital bed.

The fact that so many people gave him a chance in the fight is evidence of the widespread ignorance of sports fans regarding boxing these days, and the fact that so many thought what they had seen was actually a competitive fight is evidence of how low the bar had truly been set.

Tonight, the bar can’t be set high enough.

Unlike the last farce, you have every right to expect a high level of performance from both Golovkin and Canelo, because they each have a track record of never giving you anything but.

These are highly-skilled professional fighters who do not need to be graded on a curve, or made excuses for afterward.

They are both guys who come to fight, and self-preservation is not in their game plans the way it is stamped all over Mayweather’s DNA.

They will meet in the center of the ring and exchange real punches, not pitty-pats because they are afraid to step in, or taps on the top of the head like a high-school kid giving noogies because they don’t know what else to do.

Unlike McGregor, they both have paid their dues, and unlike Mayweather, they understand the point of big-time boxing is not just to win as safely as possible, but to entertain. Neither one of them is preoccupied by taking as much risk out of the sport as possible, which often seems to be Mayweather’s chief concern.

Both Golovkin and Canelo will come in looking to do precisely the opposite, administer as much damage as possible without undue regard for their own safety.

That, along with skill, is what makes great fights and that is why even before it begins, Golovkin-Canelo has something that Mayweather-McGregor never had. A chance at true greatness.

GGG-Canelo is a difficult fight to handicap with confidence, something no one with any knowledge or common sense could have said about Floyd-Conor.

Canelo is the younger man by nearly eight years, and Golovkin is the naturally bigger man, having fought every one of his 37 pro fights as a middleweight. The numbers say Golovkin is the harder hitter and the visual evidence tells you he is the more vicious fighter.

But there are also signs that at 35, the high-pressure style of Golovkin has begun to take its toll on him; his struggle with Danny Jacobs in April and his tougher-than-expected tussle with Kell Brook last year may have been off-nights, or they may have been signs that age is catching up with him.

Canelo, on the other hand, should be approaching his prime at 28. But the fighter who showed so much promise against Mayweather as a 23-year-old hasn’t progressed the way I, for one, expected to see following his only pro loss. He showed a disturbing lack of aggression in his last fight, against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., a fighter who had no intention of trying to hurt him, and I thought he could have done more with Miguel Cotto in 2015. He is a skilled, fluid boxer but not the hitter he appeared to be when he was fighting welters and junior middles, and his style can quickly become predictable in the ring.

The guess here – and it is only a guess – is that Golovkin isn’t quite ready to over that hill from which great fighters never return, and that Canelo will find his strength and pressure to be something he has never experienced and is not quite equipped to handle. I could see a Golovkin TKO in 9 rounds, although I wouldn’t be shocked if it turned out I have underestimated Canelo and the fight ends up going the other way.

One thing I can guarantee is it will be an excellent, and possibly transcendent, fight.

And not having wasted 100 bucks on August 26, I will have no qualms about spending 80 bucks on it tonight.


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