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Gordon: Don’t count out GGG, even if he’s past his prime

Updated September 14, 2022 - 8:40 pm

The tender, youthful smile that Gennady “GGG” Golovkin sports can belie that fact that he’s 40 — and one of the most vicious punchers in middleweight history. He could probably still pass for 30.

A testament, he claims, to his genetics.

“And my wife,” he says, unsheathing that signature grin.

“But speaking seriously, this is probably because of my healthy lifestyle,” Golovkin added, this time through a translator. “I don’t take any drugs or medications that might affect in a negative way my condition.”

Even at 40, Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 knockouts) cannot be counted out Saturday in his fight against rival Canelo Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) at T-Mobile Arena for the undisputed 168-pound crown in his super middleweight debut. He believes he won a majority of the 24 rounds they shared inside T-Mobile during their 2017 and 2018 clashes, bouts among the most memorable in recent history.

That he’s a +350 underdog seems disrespectful, considering many shared in the disgust he experienced after settling for a draw five years ago and dropping a controversial majority decision four years ago.

Who but Dmitry Bivol has fought Alvarez better than Golovkin since the 32-year-old Mexican’s first loss nine years ago to Floyd Mayweather?

Nobody, and Golovkin knows it.

Clouded in controversy

“Those two fights were exciting, outstanding fights. They are memorable. They’ll go into history,” said Golovkin, the unified middleweight champion and a native of Kazakhstan. “I hope that this fight is going to be an exciting fight that goes into history as well. … Those fights have their place in history, and this fight is going to be an interesting one.”

That they do, hence the third fight Golovkin patiently waited four years to secure.

Better late than never, right?

Golovkin had a rightful claim to the first fight, pressuring Alvarez the night of Sept. 16, 2017, and landing 218 punches compared with his 169. He threw nearly 200 more punches, proving he was the busier and more effective of the two. Yet he was unseated by one of the most egregious scorecards ever — Adalaide Byrd’s infamous 118-110 ruling in favor of Alvarez — thereby intensifying the rematch one year later.

Alvarez adjusted his aggression in that fight and marched forward to match Golovkin’s aggression. But he still couldn’t match the output, landing 202 blows compared with Golovkin’s 234. The judges ruled 115-113, 115-113, 114-114 in favor of Alvarez, who bypassed a rematch with Bivol to fight Golovkin one more time.

Albeit four years later while he’s in his prime, knowing Golovkin is past his.

“All this time has passed, four years, now he thinks that he’s in a position to … say that he can knock me out and finish my career,” Golovkin said. “Who is he to start or finish anybody’s career? Maybe he’s trying to score some points based on his age and his position.”

Nothing to lose

Alvarez has indeed publicly pledged an attempt to knock out and retire Golovkin, he with the iron chin who hasn’t been wobbled — let alone knocked down in nearly 400 amateur and professional fights. He still possesses one of boxing’s most effective jabs, too, an important tool Bivol used in May to weather and stymie Alvarez at T-Mobile Arena.

Golovkin doesn’t move as freely as Bivol does inside the ring, but Bivol doesn’t pack the pop Golovkin does, either.

Then again, few do.

Golovkin’s style is still suited to trouble Alvarez, odds be damned in his mind — along with any commentary from Alvarez.

“I don’t pay attention to any nonsense that he’s saying. I stopped paying attention a long time ago,” said Golovkin, who has nothing to lose and everything to gain. “They think I’m an underdog, but I don’t think that way. I believe in myself.”

As he should.

Even if he’s 40.

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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