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Canelo vs. GGG: Is this the start of boxing’s next great trilogy?

Updated September 16, 2017 - 3:18 pm

Perfect, in the sense of what makes a memorable boxing trilogy, is incredibly difficult to come by.

Are both fighters in their prime?

Do their styles differ enough that strengths and weaknesses mesh into a beautiful instinctive rhythm or, better yet, are they aggressive enough to try to beat the snot out of each other?

Is there historical significance to the event?

How vast is the entertainment draw?

The greatest of trilogies have been intimate affairs matured over time, born from an era when the pursuit of glory trumped the number of zeros on a purse. They began with an initial fight, an appetizer to prove whether a main course of encounters was justified.

Many believe it will be with Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.

Whether the wait was too long to produce the sort of classic most insist exists within the matchup will be determined Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena, where a middleweight unification title fight could set the stage for other such clashes.

“I said a couple years ago when they talked about this fight that there could be two or three of them,” said Abel Sanchez, trainer to Golovkin. “I saw Canelo evolving and developing into that kind of fighter.

“I think having three fights over the next few years — when (Golovkin) would be 37 — would be OK. Maybe as he gets older, it would be more competitive.”

The not-so-subtle crack served a two-fold purpose, first that Sanchez is convinced his fighter is simply too big and strong and powerful for Alvarez to handle now, and that time admittedly slows even the most ferocious of punchers.

There’s no question Alvarez as the 27-year old golden ticket of Golden Boy Promotions stalled before agreeing to the fight, not wanting to engage in a 160-pound war against an undefeated champion whose name should be included on any list of history’s most dangerous middleweights.

Golovkin — GGG — is 37-0 with 33 knockouts.

But he is also 35, and a nearly two-year pause as Alvarez fought other, far less imposing figures while Golovkin continued to dominate the division could damage the chances of a trilogy.

Or not.

“A question about a (trilogy) would be for the promoters,” Golovkin said. “I’m a boxer. I like to fight. I was ready for this two years ago and I’m ready now. This is my game. This is my fight. I’m the boss, not Canelo. I’m the champion.

“Maybe inside, maybe right now I’m younger than Canelo. I feel like 25 … I understand this is a hard fight. It’s not an easy fight for him or me. I think in first few rounds, we find out strategy. In second half, it gets crazy like street fight.”

Nothing screams for more than one fight than such a brawl, and to think it could occur in one of the sport’s premier weight classes makes the idea of a trilogy all the more enticing, because not since Marvin Hagler against Thomas Hearns in 1985 has there been a middleweight confrontation with this level of promise in terms of expected action.

But here’s a catch on the whole trilogy angle: For it to have any chance at happening, GGG likely has to win Saturday, because his deal doesn’t possess the rematch clause that Alvarez owns.

You would think if Alvarez won a close decision in an exciting fight, public pressure to meet again — say, in May — would be intense enough to guarantee a second go-round.

But never totally trust what a fighter says when he has no motivation to play his entire hand.

“(A trilogy) could happen because of the styles, and if the people want another fight then it could happen and fast,” Alvarez said. “We don’t need to wait, but as always, let’s see how the first fight turns out and then maybe we can talk about a second one.

“But if it’s a really good fight and the people want to see another one, for me, it’s not a problem making it happen as soon as possible.

“Of course, I would (give GGG a rematch). I have no problem with that.”

He had a problem — or at least those who promote him did — making this fight, so whatever he says about future ones can’t be yet taken seriously.

It’s also true you can’t have a rematch until the first one is settled. Still, it’s impossible to think this won’t deliver on the promise of greatness from both corners.

It should be one heck of an appetizer that justifies a main course of this middleweight battle.

All trilogies had a beginning, so let’s hope Saturday proves good enough to create the next one.

You would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think it won’t.

More boxing: Follow all of our boxing coverage online at reviewjournal.com/boxing and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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