Monday, September 12, 2016

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Liam Smith

AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX, Sept. 17
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View
By Peter Lim

Despite being the challenger, Alvarez's superior experience cannot be overstated in this fight. At age 26, Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) has already taken on the cream of the crop of the 154-pound division. With the exception of Floyd Mayweather Jr., he has defeated an impressive list of opponents - a handful of future Hall-of-Famers included - with an equally impressive array of styles.

Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs), on the other hand, has built his record in relatively obscurity against a parade of equally obscure opponents. He won the vacant alphabet belt against a 17-1 fighter and defended it twice against opponents with deceptively-decent resumes. Style-wise, at this juncture of his career at least, Smith, 28, appears to be a one-dimensional bully who chugs forward behind a high peekaboo guard while shooting a long, thumping jab to set up more debilitating punches. His modus operandi basically boils down to landing first, landing harder and breaking his opponents down in a war of attrition.

The multi-faceted Alvarez might require two or three rounds to figure out Smith's aggressive approach, but once he does, the fight becomes a one-sided affair. The red-headed, Irish-looking Mexican will effortlessly sidestep Smith's charges and deliver pinpoint head-snapping and rib-rattling counters from both fists with a vengeance. Despite absorbing a sustained and brutal beating, the tough but overmatched Brit stubbornly refuses to wilt, forcing Alvarez to settle for an academic, lope-sided victory on the scorecards.

As long as Canelo can make 154 pounds, the much anticipated showdown with 3G seems unlikely. If he can sell 51,000 tickets against a guy like Smith, he doesn't need to move up before he is ready to guarantee himself a handsome payday. In the meantime, while waiting for him to grow into a full-fledged middleweight, a fight with one of the Charlo twins wouldn't be a shabby option. As for Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, a fighter who has a better knockout percent than him, represents an equally intriguing if less marketable matchup than Canelo.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Gennady Golovkin vs. Kell Brook

02 Arena, London, England, Sept. 10
TV: HBO, Sky Box Office
By Peter Lim

Discounting the obvious and often over-hyped size difference between the two, Golovkin will still be a solid favorite against Brook, given the Kazakh's superior knockout percentage and level of opposition. Even if Brook were a natural middleweight, he would still be facing an opponent with the punching power of a light heavyweight who has effortlessly dismantled a spectrum of opponents with a diaspora of styles.

Executioners, in today's era of capital punishment, exists in two polar extremes. In the Middle East, there are the sword-wielding butchers who decapitate with brute muscle power, and, in the supposedly more civilized United States, clinicians deliver their lethal blows with a scientifically calculated series of lethal injections. From a pugilistic analogy, Golovkin is an eclectic version of both.

He has beaten slick, speedier southpaws (Willie Monroe) to the punch, overpowered bonified brawlers ( Marco Antonio Rubio) and clinically dissected power punchers (David Lemieux) almost exclusively with his jab and boxing skills. Versatile as he is, he has demonstrated the propensity to drop and stop opponents from imaginative punch angles to the head and body with either fist.

Brook, on the other hand, has won virtually all of his fights as the badass playground bully. He has just been that much stronger, tougher and more alpha than everyone he's faced, Shawn Porter included. Granted, he has pretty decent boxing ability, but that's merely complimentary, incidental almost, to his success thus far.

Brook has stated that, should he beat Golovkin, it would represent a bigger upset than Sugar Ray Leonard's 1987 monumental victory over Marvin Hagler. But it is Roberto Duran, the fighter who also climbed two divisions to upset Leonard in 1980, that Brook must emulate if he wants to unseat Golovkin. Leonard was faster, broader framed and had better technical skills, yet Duran was able to taunt, lure and out-macho Leonard into the only territory where he had the advantage – the phone booth.

The lone longshot Brook has against Golovkin is to force him into chest-to-chest range and keep him there for the entire fight, the way Duran did against Leonard in their first encounter. Golovkin might have superior boxing skills and versatility but he has never been dragged into prolonged, frenetic trench warfare.

But Golovkin's exceptional firepower will ultimately be the deciding factor of this fight. Brook might start off strong and feisty but even if he outlands Golovkin by two punches to one, the sledgehammers Golovkin disguises as fists will inflict far more damage on Brook than anything the Brit can detonate on the Kazakh. Brook becomes more and more of a stationary target as the fight progresses and eventually succumbs to Golovkin's heavy hands in the seventh round.

Brook's corner might have jumped the gun in tossing n the towel but the writing was on the wall. As Golovkin stated, Brook, as tough and talented as he is, is no middleweight.