IT says a lot for the career of Gennadiy Golovkin that the fight billed as “Legacy”, scheduled for this Saturday (September 17) against Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, is one that Golovkin’s coach, Johnathon Banks, doesn’t feel impacts the great Kazakh one way or another.
Win, the American says, and Golovkin, 42-1-1 (37), will rightly elevate himself in the mythical pound-for-pound rankings. Lose, however, which is of course an outcome Team Golovkin refuse to entertain, and the 40-year-old’s career, or legacy, will continue to be held in the highest esteem.
“Canelo doesn’t make or break his career,” Banks told Boxing News. “His career was solidified before he even fought Canelo. Canelo doesn’t make G’s career at all.
“It’s the same for Canelo. He still would have accomplished the things he has accomplished with or without G. The two of them have Hall-of-Fame careers with or without each other.
“This doesn’t move the needle at all. It’s just a new challenge and a different type of fight. This fight keeps G at the same status he’s already in. All it does is mean you can go back to the pound-for-pound list, if that’s what you want to do, and put them in order. But really, for G, it’s just the next challenge. It’s not about who it is.”
Despite this claim, much of what makes Canelo vs. GGG III work as fight, as a rivalry, and as a franchise, is the very fact that it involves two men inextricably linked since they fought the first time back in 2017. They are therefore, in that respect, important to one another, albeit it more in a business sense than, if willing to believe Banks, a legacy sense.
Regardless of whether it can be improved or not, Golovkin’s legacy is without doubt a solid one. Beaten so far only by Álvarez, on a controversial decision in 2018, the heavy-handed middleweight champion continues to promote the old adage that the last thing a fighter loses is their punch and, moreover, what he now perhaps lacks in speed and reflexes he makes up for in experience and ring savvy.
“He is just a freak of nature,” said Banks. “He has massive punching power and he had a boat-load of amateur experience. That alone allows him to be a wrecking ball in the boxing world. It’s the same with Canelo. Canelo has so much experience from the amateurs and pros – he was beating men as a young phenom. He’s like a wrecking ball coming in. A lot of fighters with that sort of extensive fighting background are always set up to do well.
“Throughout his career, G has suffocated opponents with his experience, his fundamentals and his feet. He harnessed that during his amateur career and now I’m trying to take it to another level. I’m trying to relive his movement from the amateurs and just intensify it. Let’s move more, let’s move sharper, and let’s punch off the movement.”
If, for much of his career, Golovkin’s biggest threat, and the thorn in his side, has been Canelo Álvarez, the fear now, a quite natural one, is that Canelo has been replaced by Father Time, the final opponent for most ageing warriors. Banks, though, a man who sees him in the gym every day, has no such concerns. In fact, he goes so far as to say Golovkin, at 40, is still the same fighter he was when he first started working with him and, for that reason, has no concern seeing him reunite with Álvarez four years after their last meeting.
“He’s awesome at 40,” said Banks. “There’s nothing I’m trying to get him to do that he can’t do. But obviously I’m used to working with older athletes (including former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko), so I know what to expect. I wasn’t working with him when he was younger, but I can say he’s the same guy he was when I started working with him.
“Obviously he can still be taught things, but both fighters will come into this fight knowing they know each other. What makes it interesting, though, is that neither fighter now fights the same way they fought four years ago. Canelo was more of a mover, or traditional boxer, back then, whereas now he keeps his hands up and comes forward. He was also the smaller guy last time, which is why they had to fight at a catchweight. But now he’s too big to make the weight to drop back down. This will be a completely different fight.”