By Tré Berry & Jon Uddin | 12/23/2020
Combat Project authors Jon Uddin and Tré Berry hone in on last weeks match-ups. We will take a deeper look into Canelo Alvarez domination over Callum Smith (is Canelo the smartest fighter in boxing today?), ⏳GGG’s seemingly youthful resurgence, and a 📍historic rematch on the way, in the Super-Flyweight division between Juan Francisco Estrada, and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.
A FRESH, AND VITAL GENNADIY GOLOVKIN
TRÉ BERRY III – Last weekends cards headlined a couple of generational standouts, 🥈🇰🇿Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin took centerstage Friday night, where he fared off against 🇵🇱Kamil Szeremeta, who was his #1 mandatory opponent waiting for him after acquiring the IBF Middleweight title in his previous bout against 🇺🇦Sergiy Derevyanchenko in October of 2019.
Considering that Golovkin at this point in time is 38 years of age, and coming off of a long 🗓️440 day layoff, due to enduring a war in his prior contest, personal setbacks, and the pandemic that put boxing on the mend, the general public wondered what GGG would look like in his return.
Would he be the slowly 📉diminishing fighter exhibited in the last few years, removed from his days as a truly dominant force? or would the time off give him some opportunity to rest, and recover from the accumulated wear and tear on the body from his tough assignments in the last few years?
Personally I was surprised to see how spry he looked, and got some of his lost speed back. His movement, reaction time was sharp, and he was actually doing a very good job moving his head defensively, something that many criticized him for over the years, despite being a solid defensive fighter with his arm positioning and his ability to see what is coming.
That indicates to me that Gennadiy Golovkin, and late-stage Head-Trainer 🥋Jonathan Banks have finally struck on the same chord, and formed a synergy together that hasn’t been exhibited, until now. Give me your take on what you seen from GGG in terms of his technical mechanics, and also, at this juncture of his tenure as an elite Middleweight, what direction would you personally like to see him travel towards?
JON UDDIN – We are on the same page when it comes to what we liked seeing from Golovkin in this latest fight, that being the return of some of his speed and head movement. That being said, fair or unfair, I don’t know how much weight I’m ready to put into the Golovkin-Banks connection just yet. I think a significant amount of the refreshed GGG we saw comes from moving from the high altitude training in Big Bear, which at a certain point can be detrimental to an older fighter, to South Florida.
Banks and Golovkin could very well be clicking on a higher level than I am ready to give credit for, but I also have to give pause to the opposition that was the IBF mandatory Kamil Szeremeta, who Golovkin took care of efficiently, and in his prime would have dispatched in no less than two rounds.
While Golovkin is still an elite Middleweight, possibly still the best, the biggest difference I’m seeing in him from then to now is in his endurance and quick striking ability. A prime Golovkin worked from end to end of a round, destroying the opposition in front of him, as opposed to now where you will find some slack given and more huffing from the Kazakh fighter come mid rounds.
While Golovkin still delivers a great jab and cracking power, which is the last thing to go, it doesn’t come at the cobra-like quickness he struck with just a few years ago. This isn’t a knock on Golovkin, just the difference I see, and expect to see from a 38 year old fighter with nearly 📜400 fights and the sparring rounds that come with it, worn on his body.
What would I like to see next? Either a Middleweight clash with 🇬🇧Jermall Charlo and if not that then a clash with Japan’s 🥇🇯🇵Ryota Murata. After that I am curious to see how he feels physically and fares at 168 where maybe we could see the third Canelo Alvarez fight?
THE MENTAL ACUITY OF CANELO ALVAREZ
TRÉ BERRY III – Now Saturday, I feel like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez authored up the “magnum opus” of his career, putting together the sharpest performance of his entire career both mentally and physically after systematically breaking down former 168 lb. King 🇬🇧Callum Smith, and rendering him helpless by mid-fight, cruising to a very wide decision.
How I personally feel about “Pound-4-Pound” situation as a topic, generally I like discussing the matter – it brings a little entertainment to the conversation, subjectively making your case for who you have allotted for that mythical standing.
With that being stated, the conversation itself has begun to over-saturate, as it has become a fixture after every fight that features at least one top-flight boxer, and it tends to take over the narrative, as opposed to 🗣️talking about the fight itself.
It is because of that where I only discuss that sparingly, but what I would like to shift my attention towards, is not Canelo Alvarez standing towards the top of the ranks, but in putting a 🔬microscope to his boxing acumen, and the level of ring intelligence that truly look centerstage on Saturday.
I noticed early that Canelo kept missing (from my vantage point) the roundhouse right he kept throwing, and it kept getting picked off by the left elbow, and bicep of Callum. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Canelo INTENTIONALLY set out to do so, deliberately wailing away at the arm to nullify Callum’s best weapons, that being the check-left hook, and the jab that was drastically needed in this fight.
Callum though knew what he was doing, and told his Head-Trainer 🥋Joe Gallagher of what he noticed, and by the 4th round, in the corner, he quotably said “my arm is fucked”. I personally was critical of Smith neglecting his jab after the 4th round, but I wasn’t made aware of Callum’s deformed arm until right after the fight, where I connected the dots.
Due to those thudding blows, his bicep was torn, and Callum will need to undergo surgery for it in the next couple of days. For Canelo, what he enacted is not a new tactic, as it has been a great tool for fighters like 🇺🇸Rocky Marciano, 🇵🇦Roberto Duran, 🇲🇽Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., 🇰🇿Gennadiy Golovkin, etc.
Now, for Canelo and his team to utilize that tactic full force from the start of round 1, shows that Canelo arguably has a claim of being perhaps the smartest fighter in all of boxing today. What do you feel – Is Canelo Alvarez to you the most intelligent operator in boxing currently? and what did you think about his fight tactics all-around that enabled him to shut-down a world class pugilist such as Callum Smith?
JON UDDIN – Canelo did what I thought he would do against Callum Smith, but I will admit he did it a lot sooner than I thought he would, like right from the beginning. It showed me that he and Head-Trainer 🥋Eddy Reynoso knew what they had in front of them with Smith and they flat out didn’t fear it. The advantage in size and length meant nothing to them as Smith confirmed their suspicions that he doesn’t use it to his full advantage, which is something that became more apparent in the tough fight he had against 🇬🇧John Ryder.
Canelo carries a supreme confidence in his abilities and that isn’t swayed by any skillset his opponent brings to the table. Canelo and Reynoso study the opposition, assess strengths and weaknesses, plan the attack, and execute the gameplan.
I’ll add that it’s clear Canelo thrives playing the role of hunter in the ring, breaking his man down and going for the kill. Even with Smith’s size advantage, Canelo showed he felt he was just as strong physically if not more so as he battered Smith around the ring unabated.
As far as most intelligent, yes, I’ll give the nod to Canelo over tacticians such as Inoue, Crawford, Estrada and Chocolatito. The deciding factor for me being Canelo’s skillset, knowledge of his opponent, and execution of his gameplan in the ring, I give him a slight edge over the others here.
ESTRADA VS. CHOCOLATITO – A REMATCH OF TWO ACTIVE LEGENDS FOR MARCH
TRÉ BERRY III – During 💻DAZN’s broadcast, blockbuster news was dropped upon us, as two superstar potential Hall-of-Fame warriors Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico, and Nicaragua’s 🇳🇮Chocolatito Gonzalez will rematch their fight that took place 8 years ago at Light-Flyweight, and this time, will be for THEE Super-Flyweight Championship of the World.
How the tables have turned. Their first meeting, Chocolatito was the established man of the two, and held the WBA World Light-Flyweight Title. As for Estrada, this was his first shot at a world title, and standing as talented as anyone in the ⚖️108 lb. division, he went for the gusto. These two put together a truly memorable war, and the fight action was close.
The scorecards weren’t though, irreflective of the events that took place. Chocolatito emerged as the winner, and Estrada lost his second fight, and till this day, Chocolatito is the only fighter that he hasn’t defeated (he avenged his first loss in a rematch, and defeated 🇹🇭Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in their rematch).
Since Chocolatito, and Gallo’s scrap in 2012, Roman has went on to cement himself as ⛰️one of the greatest lower division fighters to ever grace the ring, while Estrada had a long backend journey of showing his immense skills, but getting short changed on scorecards in his other biggest fight, until recently when he ended the aforementioned Rungvisai’s reign.
Now Gallo Estrada reigns as the true Champion of the Super-Flyweight division, holding the RING and WBC World Titles, and sitting at the peak of his career. For Chocolatito, after suffering personal and career setbacks, it seemed his time at the top was over, but he has undergone a renaissance in recent time, and in the midst of it, re-announced himself as a Titlist by lifting the WBA strap off of 🇬🇧Kal Yafai’s shoulder.
Though Roman isn’t quite what he used to be, he is still one of the best, but what is interesting, is that as this time, he will see himself as the underdog leading into this rematch, as the 👞shoe was on the other foot for himself 8 years go. How do you feel about this rematch? do you believe we will see another war ensue? and to you, what would a win do to the victor in catapulting his legacy towards a new plateau?
JON UDDIN – I am very excited about this fight and yes I do expect another all out war in this one, possibly even more than the first go round. But, yes there is a but, I wonder if the glory of a win leans heavier on Chocolatito’s end than Estrada’s.
Chocolatito’s Hall of Fame legacy is cemented, but another win over rival Estrada who still sits as a current top pound for pound for me in his current resurgence following his losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai will be something for the ages.
Don’t get me wrong, the win will be big for Estrada’s career and provide the payback he has been seeking, but I do think the fight coming eight years after the initial loss with Gonzalez air of invincibility being broken twice by Sor Rungvisai may diminish it ever so slightly.