|Place: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas Date: September 18, Sunday|
|Coverage: Commentary on BBC 5 Sports Extra and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app from 5am.|
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is wary of the threat posed by the “smart” Gennady Golovkin, but he plans to win the trilogy fight this weekend in 12 rounds.
The 32-year-old Mexican has put the undisputed super middleweight crown on the line against the 40-year-old Kazakh in Las Vegas.
The first meeting was held in 2017 controversial drawwith Alvarez won the rematch a year later
“I will look to get a break,” Alvarez said. “This is as honest as I’ve been before a fight in a long time.”
He added: “I work better under pressure. The pressure I put on myself is to finish within the distance. I have a tough opponent in front of me but that will be my goal on Saturday night.”
Four-weight champion Alvarez – who turned pro when he was only 15 – has won 57 fights, with two draws and two losses.
Golovkin is the current joint middleweight champion, with those fights with Canelo the only two blemishes in his 44-fight record.
“This time it’s personal”
Alvarez-Golovkin is a four-year rematch and one of the biggest rivalries of the current championship boxing era, with the two future hall of famers having already shared 24 contested rounds in the 160-pound middleweight division.
This contest is fought at 168kg (12 stone) and Alvarez is at 167.4kg the heaviest ever for a fight with Golovkin at 167.8kg.
Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, who promotes Alvarez, believes “this time is personal” between the two men.
“I know the undisputed championship is on the line and they really want to win that, but it’s just personal,” Hearn told the 5 Live boxing podcast.
“Canelo can’t stand it. Gennady Golovkin tells everything to the media and rarely to their face. Gennady is a bad man too. He’s a very respectful and nice individual, but trust him he has a bad side.”
Many fans and experts believe that Golovkin should have won his first fight in September 2017 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas – the home of the trilogy fight.
He landed the cleanest punches in an all-action contest, but the judges scored it 115-113 for Golovkin, 114-114, and a very contentious 118-110 for Alvarez.
Their rivalry and war of words escalated further when the rematch was postponed after Alvarez was banned for six months after failing two drug tests, which he said was caused by eating tainted meat.
Alvarez and Golovkin finally faced off again 364 days after their first fight, at the same venue, where Alvarez won the grueling fight by majority decision. The winner landed more striking shots, Golovkin a higher volume of punches.
Hearn predicts the third fight will be the “best of three”, adding: “The first fight was epic. Canelo Alvarez chose to do the right thing and box and move. It was a very close fight.
“Then he came out in the second fight and decided to go for Gennady Golovkin’s downfall. The punishment they both took in those fights was incredible. How were they both standing…”.
‘Back to the path of greatness’ – Alvarez
Alvarez became the first undisputed super middleweight champion by defeating Caleb Plant in November, but is coming off a losing streak after defeating WBA lightweight champion Dmitry Bivol in May.
“I’m really motivated to be here,” he said at Thursday’s news conference. “Of course, [Bivol] defeat hurt, but we’re back on the road to greatness.”
Hearn says his fighter likes the pressure and believes Alvarez will “bounce back” with a win.
“If he suffered a defeat on Saturday, defeats would be defeats,” added Hearn. “It would be very quick to disappear from that invincibility we thought in that sport. There is a lot of pressure, but it is very hot.”
Since his last meeting with Golovkin, Alvarez has dominated the sport and become a pound-for-pound star, beating Sergey Kovalev and Britain’s Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders.
Golovkin’s career has stalled a bit over the past four years. He has only competed four times, compared to Alvarez’s eight. His best wins were against Sergiy Derevyanchenko Ryota Murata.
He declined to offer a prediction or engage in conversation about their previous struggles.
“I think that’s the biggest thing for boxing right now, the biggest gift for you, the fans,” Golovkin said. “I’m feeling really comfortable. I’m feeling strong, guys. I’ll see you Saturday night.”
However, his coach Johnathon Banks joked, “I’ve notified the Las Vegas Police Department robbery division to be there at T-Mobile Arena. Hopefully the refs can prevent a third robbery.”