Gennady Golovkin will be fuelled by a desire for justice when he puts his world middleweight titles on the line against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in their eagerly-awaited rematch in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Golovkin was left stunned when their first bout in September last year was declared to be a split-decision draw – then kept waiting for his second shot after Alvarez failed a drugs test.
All of which has left the big-punching Kazakh to lose respect for his middleweight rival, adding further spice to a contest which is regarded as one of the biggest in the sport.
Golokvin told the media this week: “I have lost respect for him. It changed after the doping scandal.
“After the first fight I said, ‘thank you for the fight, it was a great fight’. He said the same. We were friendly. But after doping? No. This is a terrible situation and right now we have only business.”
Alvarez’s six-month ban after testing positive for clenbuterol – he claimed the positive test came from eating contaminated meat – scuppered the first prospective rematch date earlier this year.
Golovkin marked time with a stoppage win over Vanes Martirosyan and will head into the rematch eager to leave nothing to chance, having started sluggishly first time round.
For his part, Alvarez says he too will adopt a different tactical approach. Showing he could stand up to Golovkin’s ferocious power, the Mexican still faded badly through the middle rounds suggesting stamina could prove a major factor.
“I have made a complete and radical change and you will see this on Saturday,” Alvarez told media.
“I am bothered by all the stupid things (Golovkin’s team) have been saying and I have been using it as motivation for this fight. Maybe they believe what they say, maybe it is to get me mad – but it has worked.”
As with many sports, home advantage in boxing can be the difference between victory and defeat.
On September 28th British fighters George Groves and Callum Smith lock horns in the final of the World Boxing Super Series in Jeddah.
The location comes as a surprise to many as neither fighter has ever been to Saudi Arabia, let alone fought there. Despite not boxing in front of their own fans, the clash has all the makings of a classic.
Here we look at five humdingers which took place on foreign soil.
Muhammad Ali TKO 14 Joe Frazier, 1975, Manila, Philippines
When super-fights are so hyped they often fail to live up to expectation but Ali and Frazier’s dance, dubbed the ‘Thrilla in Manila’, for the third time in their careers, they produced one of the greatest prizefights in the history of the sport.
Between them the pair threw the most punches ever seen in a heavyweight title fight, despite the arena being described as hot as a sauna. Frazier’s plan was to attack the body in hopes the head would follow.
As it was, Ali took all which was thrown at him and ‘The Greatest’ came out on top after 14 brutal rounds.
Eddie Futch, Frazier’s trainer refused to let his fighter out of the corner for any more punishment as his eyes were swollen completely shut from the ferocious exchanges with Ali.
Muhammad Ali KO 8 George Foreman, 1974, Zaire
Going into the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ Foreman had a reputation of shattering bones with his unbelievable strength; few thought Ali had what it took to defeat ‘Big George’.
Music legend James Brown added to the festival of culture which surrounded the fight, and Don King finally made a real name for himself as a world-class promoter.
As many predicted, Foreman was on the front foot in the early rounds, hammering Ali with huge left and rights and it looked only a matter of time before Foreman’s arm was raised in victory.
But as the fight went on things began to shift. Ali, who spent most of the time on the ropes, began taunting his opponent and whispering in his ear whenever Forman landed a shot.
The now famous ‘rope-a-dope’ tactics earned Ali victory as the heavy-handed Forman finally ran out of steam in round eight. ‘The Greatest’ dropped him, and became the first two-time heavyweight champion since Floyd Patterson.
James ‘Buster’ Douglas KO 10 Mike Tyson, 1990, Tokyo, Japan
James ‘Buster’ Douglas’ knockout of Mike Tyson sent shock waves around the world and remains of the biggest upsets in boxing history.
Tyson, seemingly invincible and at the height of his game, was accustomed to blowing away opponents in the early rounds. Douglas on the other hand was a talented fighter who had never lived up to his potential.
Their careers met at a point where Tyson’s life outside the ring was rapidly spiraling out of control, with the fame and money which came with being the heavyweight champ largely to blame. On the flipside, Douglas was reeling from the loss of his mother who passed away just a few weeks before.
The grieving 29-year-old went into the fight with nothing to lose. And so it proved. The Tokyo Dome crowd didn’t know what was about to hit it, and nor did a woefully under prepared Tyson who ate a thunderous uppercut and was spectacularly knocked out in the in the tenth round.
Roberto Duran UD Sugar Ray Leonard, 1980 Montreal, Canada
Over 46,000 fans packed into the Olympic Stadium to witness the epic encounter, which Leonard has since described as the fight which made him the man he is today.
Going into the, ‘Brawl in Montreal’, Duran had been enjoying an unstoppable run in the lightweight division, while Leonard came into the bout as an unbeaten welterweight and the sport’s golden boy.
The fight was the start of an unforgettable era in boxing involving Leonard, Duran, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns. Duran, a specialist brawler, managed to drag Leonard into a slugfest, which suited the Panamanian down to the ground. Leonard, proved his toughness and stood toe-to-toe with his opponent but eventually lost the 15-rounder via unanimous decision.
A much wiser Leonard won the rematch five months later, retiring Duran as he famously muttered the words, “No mas” to the referee in the eighth round.
George Groves v Callum Smith, 2018, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The two Brits battle it out for the WBA Super World World title and The Ring belt for the climax of the World Boxing Super Series on September 28th.
The pair no doubt had hoped the clash would be in England, with the O2 Arena in London the obvious choice. Nevertheless, the crowd in Jeddah will be in for a treat as the two in-form fighters look to win what could be a career defining fight.
Smith, the slight underdog, has a great chance of becoming world champion in what he will see as a very winnable title fight. Groves on the other hand has the opportunity to cement himself as the best super middleweight out there.
A loss arguably does more harm to Smith than it does to Groves as even without a title the Londoner can expect his biggest payday against long-time rival James DeGale.
Smith however would have to work his way back into contention for another shot at the gold.
Khan recovered from a second-round knockdown to beat Colombian Samuel Vargas on points at the weekend, and speaking after the fight Eddie Hearn, who promotes both Brook and Khan, suggested a grudge match between the British pair must happen “now or never”.
Khan told PA Sport: “I’m 31, I’m still young and there’s still room for both fights. Why isn’t there? I think within a year both fights could be done.
“Pacquiao is definitely my priority because he’s globally a bigger name, a superstar in the sport of boxing. To fight someone like him would be amazing.
“It’s a tricky fight and people will think I could get beat by him, but I know I can do a number on him.
“The Kell Brook fight is a fight I know I could win comfortably, really. It’s what name I want on my record. I’d love a Manny Pacquiao name over Kell Brook by miles. That name, in my opinion, is way bigger.”
While a stadium fight with Brook appears to be the preference of the British boxing public, Khan believes it could be possible to tempt Pacquiao over to these shores with a good offer.
He spent six years working alongside the Filipino under the tutelage of trainer Freddie Roach and believes that insider knowledge would be the key to victory should the two meet in the near future.
“In my opinion fighting someone like Manny Pacquiao would be amazing because we were training partners,” Khan added. “I know a lot about him, I’ve sparred with him and I do really well against southpaws. I’ve a 100 per cent record against them so that might be the right fight for me.
“We’ve always kept (the relationship) very professional. We’ve known we’ve wanted to fight each other for a long time, there’s always been talk about it but we’ve never talked about each other.
“We’ve respected each other’s careers, we’ve respected each other as fighters. It’s not like with Kell Brook and how the talks about that fight have been happening.
“Even in the UK I think a Manny Pacquiao fight would be huge as well. To bring Manny to England and have a fight over here would be massive.”