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Canelo vs Golovkin: Let the real fight take center stage

Mayweather-McGregor is over. And now we move on to something more important for boxing.

Canelo Alvarez & Gennady Golovkin Press Tour - New York Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Now that the noise is over, now that Floyd Mayweather has stopped Conor McGregor in an entertaining novelty fight, we have less than a month remaining before boxing’s next big showdown, and one that is, for the sport, far more important.

On September 16, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin will meet for middleweight supremacy at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the same building that housed Mayweather-McGregor.

This is a fight years in the making, dating back to Alvarez’s 2013 loss to Floyd Mayweather, after which he began refusing to fight at a 154-pound limit, instead forcing 155-pound limits and, because he’s popular, eventually getting a WBC middleweight title fight in 2015 with Miguel Cotto, at that weight, five pounds south of the division’s limit.

Alvarez’s run as WBC middleweight champion was short. He defended once, against Amir Khan in May 2016, a fight that was ridiculed from the moment it was signed, and became what it was expected to be, with Khan’s speed playing a factor early before Alvarez scored a devastating sixth round knockout.

Alvarez gave up the belt rather than face Golovkin (37-0, 33 KO), who refused to budge on the weight and drop below 160 for a catchweight bout that would only suit Alvarez. Canelo instead made the 154-pound limit again to beat Liam Smith last September for the WBO junior middleweight title — another fight that was largely trashed by the media and fans — and then came up all the way to a 164-pound catchweight for what turned out to be his most laughable fight yet, an all-Mexico showdown on May 6 of this year against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. We’re still waiting for Chavez to actually show up to that fight.

While Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KO) stalled, he also made money. His fight with Chavez was a major pay-per-view success, and immediately after it was over, Gennady Golovkin was introduced to the crowd in Las Vegas as Canelo’s next opponent.

Golovkin, 35, is eight years Alvarez’s senior. He’s held at least one version of the middleweight title since 2010, and has thrashed most of his opposition since then. He began his U.S. career in 2012, destroying Grzegorz Proksa in a little-watched HBO fight.

But time has been kind to Golovkin, and he’s created his own buzz with his sensational performances. On HBO, he’s stopped Gabriel Rosado, Matthew Macklin, Curtis Stevens, Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Martin Murray, Willie Monroe Jr, Dominic Wade, and Kell Brook. He’s also had a pair of pay-per-view dates, smashing David Lemieux in 2015, and then this year, against Daniel Jacobs, where Golovkin struggled a bit and won a narrow decision.

There are some, notably ESPN analyst and boxing lifer Teddy Atlas, who feel Golovkin has slipped over the last couple of years, that he’s ripe for the picking against the younger Alvarez, who at 27 is really just entering his prime despite a very impressive career already. He had some trouble with an undersized Brook before he broke the Brit’s eye socket, and Jacobs gave him fits at times.

Still, Canelo-GGG has been demanded for some time now. It probably should have already happened, but was left to marinate until there was, frankly, no other option left for Canelo, the golden boy of Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya’s golden goose.

The time is right, or at least right enough. Mayweather-McGregor wasn’t the utter embarrassment to boxing many feared it might be, but it also wasn’t a true high-level boxing match, either.

This will be. Golovkin and Alvarez are both top fighters, fighting for three major titles and the lineal championship of the middleweight division. If you saved your money and didn’t buy Mayweather-McGregor, good on you. But this is a fight that is genuinely worth pay-per-view, if anything is. Mayweather-McGregor may have been the biggest money fight possible, and that’s all well and good, but for a fight fan, Canelo-GGG is something far more significant than an event.

This will be a fight. And it deserves its time in the spotlight.

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