News September 2017

Kelly Pavlik breaks down GGG vs Canelo, talks tactics and how he would have fared against both


By Michael J Jones

NEXT SATURDAY sees the biggest fight in the middleweight division for years as long-time ruler Gennedy Golovkin faces Mexican star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for the undisputed championship of the world. The fascinating contest takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and many are predicting not only a good fight but a sure-fire slugfest between two guys who like to do damage.

One keen observer for the September 16 bout will be former middleweight king Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik. The now-retired 35-year-old gave his thoughts to Livefight this week and, unsurprisingly, is just as excited as everyone else at the prospect of two heavy-hitting 160lb machines, with a combined record of 86-1-1 (67), colliding in what should be artistic violence of the highest level.

Both men are known to detest chess-match-type fights and prefer to meet an opponent head on where they can unload their full arsenal often with devastating effect. With the bookies, the 35 year old Golovkin is the slight favourite but the majority of boxing folk and fans appear to be siding with the eight-years-younger “Canelo” after “Triple G’s” last fight six months ago.

On that night, against then-WBA champion Daniel Jacobs, Golovkin appeared sluggish for much of the fight before posting a close unanimous decision. Golovkin did score a flash knock-down to floor the Brooklyn puncher but for large parts couldn’t pin down the surprisingly mobile “Miracle Man”.

Although he retained his belts unanimously, many point to the fight as a suggestion of Golovkin’s imminent decline.

“I gave the fight to Golovkin but chiefly because of the knock-down” Kelly Pavlik tells Livefight from his home in Ohio. “Without that it could have easily been a draw and, really, if they had given the fight to Jacobs I wouldn’t have been mad as it was a close fight.”

“I think the reason for (Jacobs’ good performance) was that the ‘fight or flight’ kicked in and his nerves actually helped him a lot. He fought scared for most of the fight and I feel in the later rounds he could see Golovkin was tiring and the extra weight he put on after the weigh-in helped him also.”

“People were talking afterwards about Golovkin slowing and I did see some things which backed that theory up. He’s 35 now and, up until recently in boxing, that was an age where a fighter is considered past his prime. Golovkin isn’t a spring chicken and even a baseball player is considered past his best at that age.”

“In ‘GGG’s’ last two fights he’s looked muscle weary even early in the fight. You can see him shaking his arms out repeatedly. Also, he’s looked very tired after only four or five rounds and at times had no snap on his punches which is unusual for a fighter at his level and could be a sign that age is catching up with him.”

How does the former champion rate “Canelo” Alvarez who has for many years split opinion with fight fans, some call him one of the best of his era while others question many of his early opponent’s credentials and the fact that Floyd Mayweather handled him comfortably four years ago.

“I go on boxing forums and I see people are saying things like ‘Canelo gets hit too much’ and ‘Alvarez has no defence’ and then they tell me I don’t know about boxing (laughs). But all I see is that ‘Canelo’ is a hell of a fighter…a solid all-round great fighter. People talk about Golovkin being the master tactician but, if anything, I feel Alvarez has the edge in that department.”

Livefight asks “The Ghost” what could develop tactically between the two feared combatants come Saturday night?

“In boxing anything can happen so I don’t want to out-and-out pick a winner. I’m looking forward to the fight as everyone else is but in fights like this game-plans can go quickly out of the window once the punches start flowing.”

“Golovkin isn’t flashy, slick or very fast but is very good at getting himself into position and making the right moves at the right time. Having said that I’ve never seen him against anyone who is very fast like Alvarez is.”

“There’s a couple of things which could play a big factor on the night” continues Kelly. “I think if ‘Canelo’ can get beyond the fourth or fifth round, his chances of winning improve significantly. The other thing is the age difference (Alvarez the eight-years-younger man at 27). Alvarez has had more fights but many of his early ones were not ‘wear-and-tear’ type of fights not like his recent ones.”

“Golovkin being a little past his best may play a factor but he’s got that power which can alter a course of a fight at any stage. Canelo could come out trying to work to a plan and get caught, it may not knock him out but it might change the way he boxes. Golovkin has the power to change things up at any point of the contest.”

Golovkin has been a feared middleweight champion for some seven years. In that time few have been able to be even vaguely competitive against the Kazak puncher. His record stands at 37-0 (33) and Jacobs was the first man to ever navigate twelve rounds with “GGG”. Jacobs was also the first man to take Golovkin the distance for nine years.

How would have a peak Kelly Pavlik fared against Gennedy Golovkin prime-for-prime?

“Man that’s a question I get asked a lot” chuckles Pavlik. “Personally, it would have been a fight I would have liked and reminds me of when I was meant to fight Arthur Abraham. The fight never happened as they would only make it in Germany when I was the linear, and unified champion (Abraham was the IBF counter-part to Pavlik’s WBC and WBO straps).”

“People who know boxing know I would have been a tough fight for Golovkin. Firstly, there’s my size (at 6’3”), and the fact I always had a high punch output; even later in fights. Also the power I had, if Golovkin would have slowed against me late on and I was throwing numerous power punches well….”

“Many forget but Edison Miranda was a feared puncher when I boxed him and probably a harder single-shot puncher than Golovkin. Listen, all-round fighter it’s Golovkin, but pure power Miranda hit harder. Against Miranda, I took his punches, backed him up and knocked him out in seven rounds so I stopped him pretty early.”

“I would have given ‘GGG’ fits and problems and definitely something different to anybody he has faced in his career.”

Same question but for a fantasy Pavlik-Alvarez bout?

“People will point to the fact that I was defeated by Sergio Martinez that I was beaten by a smaller man but that fight is misleading. There’s no reason for me to use excuses now I’m retired for good but making 160 for that fight was the deciding thing.
I’ve been around boxing a long time, in my own camps and other people’s camps and I’ve never seen a struggle like I had to make weight for that fight.”

“If some of my team would have been filmed doing what they were doing before that fight they may have been arrested (laughs). I was ahead in the fight until the ninth and then I hit a wall and that was that, so for me, the only reason I lost to Martinez is that the weight took a lot out of me.”

“Also, let’s be fair, Martinez is a completely different fighter to Alvarez in that he’s a mover and a southpaw so you can’t really compare the two anyway.”

“Alvarez I don’t think would have hit me with anything I hadn’t seen before and I’d have been a lot bigger than him also (Pavlik would have towered over the 5’9” Alvarez at 6’3). Because ‘Canelo’ doesn’t move like Martinez I don’t think I would have had to go looking for him. It would have been a fun fight for the fans while it lasted but I think I would have gotten to Alvarez in four or five rounds.”

Final thoughts on the big fight?

“I’m really looking forward to it and, like I said, anything could happen on the night. I’m not going to pick a winner right now but if I had to I’d lean towards ‘Canelo’.”

Since retiring in 2012 with a superb 40-2 (34) record and the distinction of being the undisputed middleweight champion between 2007 and 2010, Pavlik has kept his hand in the business helping out the young fighters in Ohio. He has plans to open his own gym one day but is currently busy with several interests including hosting a radio show.

“My show is called ‘The Punchline with Kelly Pavlik and James Dominguez’ it airs every week on Tuesday and is available on Youtube and Itunes. We also broadcast on Facebook Live every Tuesday 6pm ET. It’s a great show we talk about boxing and other things and have great guests.”

“We’ve been having fun with it while finding our feet and it just keeps getting better and better.”

“I do want to open my own gym but I don’t want to rush the process and right now I’m too busy to give it my full attention. Many guys make the mistake that you can just throw a gym together and I don’t want to do that. When I open my gym it will be the real deal.”

Many thanks to Kelly Pavlik and James Dominguez for this interview.

To watch the latest episode of ‘The Punchline’ with hosts Kelly Pavlik and James Dominguez click on the link below.

The ‘best fight in boxing’ takes place Saturday, Sept. 16 when two-division world champion and current lineal middleweight world champ Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) squares off against WBC/WBA/IBF/IBO middleweight world champion Gennady "GGG" Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs). The battle for middleweight supremacy happens live on HBO Pay-Per-View at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

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