We’ve said it before, but 2018 is the year that just keeps on giving for boxing fans. We’re getting spoiled rotten with a lengthy list of great match-ups and excellent performances and now, this Saturday, it’s Golovkin vs Canelo II. We all know the backstory; it took forever for the first fight to happen, only for it to be marred by some absurd scorecards, and then we got more delays and controversy after Alvarez tested positive for banned substances. Indeed, not long ago it looked like the rematch might never happen, but it’s going down Saturday night and it’s still one of the best fights the sport can offer. Plus, there’s now some bad blood involved, which may ratchet-up the in-ring intensity. Of course our crew is ready to put their necks out and make some fearless predictions, so let’s get to it. Golovkin vs Canelo II: check out the picks!
In the first clash, Golovkin walked straight through Canelo’s head shots, but he tended to back off whenever Canelo landed a decent body punch. If Canelo can target the midriff more often, he could wear the Kazakh down and potentially stop him (yes, I’m deadly serious). I also believe Golovkin is going to be more aggressive, perhaps even a tad bit reckless, and this may lead to more counter-punching opportunities for Canelo.
That said, I’m not sure what to expect from the Mexican. After all, he has been out of action for a full year, and his body looks noticeably leaner, which suggests more emphasis has been placed on mobility and conditioning. But if Canelo has inadvertently forfeited the physical strength necessary to stand his ground and command GGG’s respect—something even master boxer Pernell Whitaker had to do against certain opponents—he may use up more energy trying to keep Golovkin at bay than he otherwise would.
Gennady can’t keep letting Alvarez escape to his left as he did when they last fought, and he must, at least to some degree, disregard Canelo’s head and focus more on the body, or whatever is available, when he has him cornered. Golovkin has shown signs of decline, but if he can make these adjustments and push the pace behind his jab again, he will outwork Canelo and leave no doubt in the judges’ minds as to who the winner is so … cue Canelo by controversial decision. — Lee Wylie
Golovkin is seriously pissed off; Canelo is off the juice. Translation: the king of the “mamadas” gets the comeuppance he’s long deserved. Golovkin by KO. — Robert Portis
As much as I like Gennady I have to go with Canelo. To paraphrase Andre Ward, historically, the guy who has more tricks in his bag does better in the rematch. In this case, that guy is Canelo. — Jeffrey Fuss
Canelo’s best chance is to control the tempo in the middle of the ring by getting off first. He has to keep the Kazakh at bay with confidence and activity, because Golovkin is not much of a counter-puncher and needs to be set to punch. But as we saw, Canelo didn’t have the endurance to fight like this for 12 rounds. While he showed the chin and the strength, now we wonder if that was a fluke given the possibility he was using PEDs. Golovkin will stalk behind his jab to pile up points and it will probably be close again, but I think this time the Kazakh edges it. Canelo just hasn’t proved he can fight for 12 rounds at the pace Gennady sets. Golovkin by decision. — Alden Chodash
I’m predicting a knockout by Triple G. I think Canelo has fallen into Golovkin’s trap. — Manny Montreal
We saw in the first fight that Canelo is the faster fighter and the better counter-puncher, and he’ll have gained confidence both from his ability to make Golovkin miss (at least early on) and in taking his best shots when GGG did land. Crucially though, we also saw that Canelo was actually able to back Golovkin up at times when he chose to plant his feet and trade, something nobody else has ever really managed to do to GGG. When you add those things together, it seems to me Canelo just has more ways to win. He can box and move, make Golovkin miss and counter, and then pick the right moments when he needs to stand his ground. Meanwhile, for Golovkin, success seems dependent on applying pressure and forcing Canelo to fight his fight. If Canelo refuses to oblige and GGG can’t find the extra success on the front foot he needs, what else can he do? Canelo by decision. — Matt O’Brien
Golovkin by decision. — Rafael Garcia
Heart says Golovkin, head says Canelo. I really want to see the Kazakh remove all doubt with an emphatic stoppage win, but I fear the reality will be Canelo upping his game just enough from last time to pip it on the cards. I hope I’m wrong, but Canelo by decision. — Damien Burton
After much being made of Canelo’s positive test and how his body looks compared to the training camp for the first bout, this fight may once more come down to how much Golovkin decides to truly press. Many felt Golovkin won convincingly, as did I, but I also felt there were far too many moments where he let Canelo off the hook and allowed him to be comfortable. Canelo’s style and pace is well-established and he’s unlikely to deviate from it, so Golovkin will have to take more risks if he wants to bypass the judges entirely. Age, wear and tear, and rust might not allow Golovkin to do that. Canelo takes a close, disputed decision this time. — Patrick Connor
I see two competing factors in this matchup. The first is that GGG knows this is the fight that will determine his legacy: a win cements it, a loss calls it into question. The second is that Canelo has more room for improvement on his performance from a year ago. I think he’ll find ways to stay off the ropes and out of the corners for more of this fight, allowing his mobility and conditioning to shine. So the question is which one wins. This is a gut feeling, but having made the last year of his life about nothing but “no draw,” Golovkin is now so motivated that I think he will pull it out. Canelo knows he can recover from a loss on Saturday, while GGG knows there’s nothing more for him if he doesn’t come out on top. I say the Kazakh scores a knockdown and wins by the slimmest of margins, fueled almost completely by willpower. GGG by decision. — Joshua Isard
I was part of the minority who felt Canelo shaded the first fight, preferring his clean sharpshooting to Golovkin’s steady pressure. I’m fairly confident the Mexican will win the rematch, not least because he’s the younger man and so should bounce back nicely from a year-long layoff. The 36-year-old Golovkin may have lost a step, though he did look devastating in wiping out Vanes Martirosyan in May. I expect Canelo to be busier, more proactive, but I’m not sure Golovkin can press any harder than he did last September. The question is whether he can make more of an impact on Canelo with his heavy artillery, whether he will have more success in cutting off the ring, and making those moments count when he does. I just see the younger, fresher man coming out on top in a competitive tactical battle. Canelo by decision. — Ronnie McCluskey
I think that Canelo will be the fresher fighter since he is younger and doesn’t have the same wear and tear that Golovkin has. I am also resigned to the worry that once again there is going to be some screwy judging and at this point Golovkin will have nobody to blame but his promoter. Canelo by decision. — Chris Connor
Canelo by decision. I believe this will be the fight where Golovkin looks every minute of his age. Father Time will pave the way for a fair and just victory for Alvarez. — Thad Moore
This will be a different fight from the last in that it will be far more decisive and the judges won’t be able to deny Golovkin the win. The unlawful benefits of Clenbuterol include stamina and building of muscle mass; it’s fed to Mexican cattle so they grow more muscle and produce more juicy steaks. Without it, Canelo is going to be Golovkin’s hot dog this time as he does look smaller now. Remember how Barry Bonds shrunk back down to normal when he got off the juice? And along with the body shrinkage, Canelo will revert back to the way he performed before: gassing in the late rounds. Without the Clenbuterol boost he’s going to be running more but GGG will walk him down and do his GGG thing upside Canelo’s head ’cause GGG is pissed. That said, Canelo has a good beard so I don’t see a KO. Golovkin by decision. — Ralph M. Semien
This is tough, mainly because we don’t know how Canelo will look. Those who think the man willingly cheated via PED use will be expecting a diminished brand, while the man’s defenders will expect a fighter in prime form. No matter what, I expect team Canelo to try to turn this into a Hagler vs Leonard type fight, with their man being Sugar Ray. That might be enough, but then again, team GGG might be ready for it. Assuming the Vegas judges play fair, Golovkin by decision. — Sean Crose
Even though I had Golovkin winning the first contest, I was surprised by his hesitancy and lack of body attack. He didn’t seem like the GGG of old, his reactions and movement appearing a step slower. I think Canelo’s speed and combinations will befuddle Golovkin and the red-headed Mexican will have enough conditioning this time around to do it for the full 12 rounds. Canelo by decision. — Jamie Rebner
This fight seems like it will either end with Golovkin stopping Canelo around the 10th round or Canelo eking out an unpopular split or majority decision. It sickens me to admit that my gut is leaning towards the latter. Boxing is a cynical, grotesquely capitalist business, and Canelo via controversial decision sets up a lucrative third bout. Here’s hoping Golovkin actually invests in banging Canelo’s body and renders him stationary enough for a finishing fusillade in the fight’s final third, but boxing’s cash cow is, I think, too skilled to let that happen. My prediction is that fight number three happens in May, with the result of GGG-Canelo II leading to an avalanche of “hot takes” about scoring. — Zachary Alapi
Maybe I’m viewing things a bit simplistically but I believe Golovkin clearly got the better of it the first time around while delivering a sub-par performance. Yes, he’s getting a bit creaky, but I expect he still retains the ability to do what must be done: up the intensity, use the jab more, pound the body, and refuse to let Alvarez coast. Meanwhile, it’s difficult for me to envision Alvarez improving on what he did the first time. I think no fight has meant more to the Kazakh and I anticipate a great performance; in the face of that, I don’t see Canelo faring very well. After all, there is a reason the Mexican ducked him for two years. Golovkin by late round stoppage. — Michael Carbert