Gennady Golovkin v Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez might not be the biggest boxing show this year but it will be the best boxing match-up of 2017. The two pound-for-pound contenders face-off in Vegas this weekend to be crowned the undisputed middleweight king.
While we’re in the UK, there are two more Saturday headliners. Billy Joe Saunders takes on the challenge of Willie Monroe Jr for his world title and Callum Smith begins his quest to take the World Boxing Super Series spoils when he meets Erik Skoglund.
For a few years now Golovkin and Alvarez have danced around each other in a type of pre-fight fandango. Each promised to meet anywhere, any time – but make no mistake, Canelo has got this contest on his terms.
The background of both men reads like mythology. You have the ‘hands of stone’ superhuman who grew up in a Kazakh mining town and was virtually untouchable as an amateur against the flame-haired prodigy who, at just 15, turned pro and dismantled some of Mexico’s hardest men.
Golovkin is still unbeaten as a professional but his 23 KO streak of terror came to a stuttering stop in his last fight.
The 7-year middleweight boss is 35 now and he’s looking for victory in this bout to be his career-defining moment. Paddy makes him favourite but only just, at 4/6 to win.
Canelo on the other hand, has already beaten a few future hall-of-famers and only Floyd Mayweather was good enough to best him on two judges’ cards. The challenger was established as the best super-welterweight on the planet but now he’s a prime 27 years old and a full blown 160-pounder.
Alvarez’s team have waited to make this fight and they think they have timed it perfectly but is there a hint of doubt?
Their side ensured a rematch clause was in the contract while GGG didn’t bother.
To win, Alvarez can’t be forced backwards and he has to prove he’s dominant at short-range combat. The Guadalajaran only has a KO ratio of 67% and, although he’s strong and accurate, he can’t stop ‘Triple G’. Betting on Canelo on points at 7/4 is a decent shout for the fighter who’s most on form.
If Golovkin is to come away with his belts around his waist and his ‘O’ intact he has to force his opponent backwards and keep the fight at mid-range. The Kazakh has a KO ratio of 89% but Alvarez is the best boxer he’s faced. The points win for ‘GGG’ is great value at 10/3.
If you’re hovering between these bets but want a little more return on your money look no further than Alvarez winning after being knocked down at 10/1.
The safest place for your money might be to have it sitting on the fence. If the fight is as close and fierce as expected a draw is a distinct possibility and value at 20/1. Just sitting on the fence isn’t good enough for me – I’m locating the widest part of fence and putting my money there!
Bet of the bout: fight to go the distance at 8/11
Golovkin only owns three of the four middleweight titles; the other is in the possession of Billy Joe Saunders. Since winning the title in 2015 the Brit has only managed one defence – an uninspiring points win against an unremarkable Russian.
If Bill’s Instagram is anything to go by he’s got himself in tip-top shape for this bout and that’s something that has not always been the case. In the opposite corner is American sharp-shooter, and previous ‘GGG’ victim, Willie Monroe Jr.
‘El Mongoose’ is known for his long reach, snaking jab and southpaw stance, which will match up against Saunders’ lefty lead.
Monroe is not known for his power, only stopping six opponents in his career, but at 4/1 to win by decision he’s worth a look.
Saunders is a superb boxer but he doesn’t pack much of a punch either. The sensible pick is for the Herts man to win on points at 5/6 but I’m tempted by the long odds on the draw in this one.
Bet of the bout: draw at 25/1
The final headline of this Saturday card comes from Liverpool. The World Boxing Super Series, where the winner of an eight man knockout tournament walks away with a world title and stack of cash, for the super middleweight division kicks off with Smith vs Skoglund.
The Brit chose to meet the Swede in the quarter-finals and, although any win will do, he’ll be looking to impress on free-to-view ITV in the UK.
The Scouser from the famous boxing family is a wicked body puncher and he has stopped his last five opponents.
The visitor has built up a solid unbeaten record but he’s yet to fight a top-level operator. Skoglund has also never weighed-in below 172 pounds for a contest and he’ll have to make the 168lb limit for this one.
The weight could be a critical factor and I expect Smith to have way too much for a drained Skoglund. 16 out of Smith’s 17 KO’s have arrived before the end of round six and I expect him to notch up another early win.
Bet of the bout: Smith in rounds 1-6 at 13/5