Impressions: Sometimes the hype is real
The 24-minute sparring session reinforced some critical observations I (and many others) have regarding Alvarez’s style and technique, but I think I gained some insight into his ring temperament.
Alvarez is a versatile boxer who can stick and move or stalk and punch effectively. He’s comfortable in the ring (and under pressure), but if he’s hurt or feels that he’s being overwhelmed during a fight, I have the feeling he might just go for broke instead of try to survive.
That’s probably not the safe or smart thing to do in the face of adversity, but it’s the kind of attitude that makes an attraction even more popular with his fans.
I don’t know if Rhodes will be the guy to do it, but somebody’s going to clip the kid good (better than Cotto did or Golovkin did in the second round of the sparring I witnessed). Alavarez keeps his gloves up most of the time but his hand placement allows for a sharp shooter to pierce the center with uppercuts or come over and around the top with hooks.
Here’s a peak at some of the observations I jotted down in my notebook while watching Alvarez spar:
“Canelo doesn’t try to avoid confrontation.” (Written during the second round.)
“He fights in spurts. He can be outworked by a busy fighter with a constant jab. He’s got a good chin but it’s not indestructible.” (Written after the third round.)
So the kid isn’t perfect. I was still impressed with what I saw from him because I realize that he was in with a real beast.
Let’s give him credit for daring to test himself.
“It was good for him to come here,” said Sanchez. “At home he was the big dog. There was nowhere to go up. He was probably getting complacent in his training. Here, he has to be on his Ps and Qs because there’s a bigger dog.”
That’s what the young man wanted.
“Rhodes is talented and I know he’s going to be very strong because he’s coming down from middleweight,” Alvarez said through Sanchez. “So if I can spar with a smart, powerful middleweight champion like Golovkin, in my mind, I’m not going to have any problem with Rhodes’ ability or size.”
My first look at Golovkin was a treat. I think he’s the real deal. He won’t be able to fight in the States or on American TV until he resolves his contractual dispute with Germany-based Universum, which probably won’t happen until after November (when he says his contract expires), but ‘Superman’ is going to be worth watching whenever ESPN, Showtime or HBO discovers him. Mark my words.
Golovkin is a very strong and durable athlete with all-around skill and excellent technique, which includes defensive prowess. He has good footwork. Pivots well. Makes use of feints. He’s brutal but crafty. If he can take a punch, he’s going to be very hard to beat.
Here’s a few notes on Golovkin:
“His right hand is like a laser beam. It reminds me of Kostya Tszyu’s right. The way he holds his hands also reminds me of Tszyu. Come to think of it, Golovkin kind of looks of like Tszyu. He’s got the same muscle tone, Central Asian facial features and oil-black hair (sans the pigtail).”
Miscellaneous Gym Notes:
Antillon told me that he signed the contract last week for the Rios fight, which Showtime will televise from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
“It’s a done deal as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I can’t wait. We’re going to be like two runaway trains meeting at the center of the ring.
“It’s happening at the right time for me because I’ve got the experience of my fight with (Humberto) Soto, and I’ve had more time to grow from Abel‘s way of training.
Golovkin, who is learning English, said he had more than 300 amateur bouts.
His boxing heroes are Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard.
I met Sanchez in Big Bear back in 1999, when he was training Frans Botha to fight Shannon Briggs that summer. He’s one of my favorite trainers and he happened to train one of my all-time favorite fighters, Terry Norris.
I often tell Sanchez that “Terrible Terry” was my main guy in the early 1990s and one of the reasons I became a hardcore fan.
He told me that Golovkin would be my new favorite in about a year. We’ll see.
Photos by Scott Kilbride