Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is expected to win big over Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin whenever they fight for a third time.
In fact, the three-division champ and reigning World middleweight king is far more of an odds-on favorite than was the case for Golovkin in each of their previous two encounters. Sportsbook BetOnline.ag has set odds for Mexico’s Alvarez (53-1-2, 36KOs) at -260 (bet $260 to win back another $100) to emerge victorious in their recently agreed-upon third fight, with bettors able to win back $200 on a $100 bet placed on Golovkin, who enters a fight as the underdog for the first time in his 14-year pro career.
Preliminary expectations call for part three to take place September 12, and to be contested at the 160-middleweight limit. Alvarez—who turned 30 in July—still reigns as the division’s lineal champion (and World Boxing Association (WBA) “Super” titleholder) and Golovkin serves as a two-time and reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) beltholder as he approaches his 38th birthday in April.
Each of their prior two contests also took place at 160, the first bout which marked Alvarez’s true debut at the full divisional limit. Both his championship winning effort over Miguel Cotto in November 2015 as well as his first title defense—a 6th round knockout of Amir Khan in May 2016—were contested at a 155-pound catchweight.
No such restrictions were in place when Alvarez and Golovkin agreed to terms for their first clash, for which Golovkin opened as a -165 betting favorite when the fight was first announced in May 2017. By the time the two entered the ring at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Golovkin was bet slightly down to a -155 favorite.
The bout ended in a disputed 12-round draw, with many believing Kazakhstan’s Golovkin deserved the nod. As such, he once again opened at -165 for the suggestion of a rematch immediately after the fight. The line increased to -170 by January 2018, but placed on hold after Alvarez tested positive for trace amounts of Clenbuterol, which resulted in a six-month suspension and their scheduled May 2018 clash pushed back to September of that year.
Golovkin re-opened at -190 when the fight was back on the docket in June, but once again bet down to -155 by opening bell. Alvarez edged out a 12-round majority decision to end Golovkin’s record-tying alphabet title reign at 20 defenses—and also convinced oddsmakers that he could repeat in a third fight, as he opened at -130 with Golovkin at even money immediately after their rematch.
The two went their separate ways, however. Alvarez went on to claim various belts in three straight fights and at three separate weight classes. The Mexican superstar trounced England’s Rocky Fielding for a secondary title at super middleweight in December 2018, followed by a 12-round win over Daniel Jacobs in their three-belt middleweight unification clash last May before capping his 2019 Fighter of the Year campaign with an 11th round knockout of Sergey Kovalev to claim a light heavyweight belt last November.
Golovkin’s run wasn’t quite as notable, which undoubtedly explains the drastic shift in betting odds. His first fight back following the loss to Alvarez came last June, scoring a knockout win over unbeaten but untested Steve Rolls at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He returned to MSG grounds in October, where he was considered fortunate to have escaped with a 12-round decision win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko in a vacant middleweight title fight which many argued should have went the other way.
Regardless, it exposed vulnerabilities in what is classified as the post-prime portion of Golovkin’s career. He’s still good enough to beat just about any other middleweight on any given night, but no longer at the point where oddsmakers believe he’s a safe bet to survive a third fight with the younger and fresher Alvarez.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox