Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez doesn’t mind playing the role of villain for this or any other fight.
Just don’t ask him to buy into the ‘Good Boy’ act projected by longtime bitter rival Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin.
“He’s two different people,” Alvarez said of Golovkin during a kickoff press conference Friday afternoon at Hollywood Legion Theater in Los Angeles. “He pretends to be a nice guy but he’s not. He’s an assh-le. He really is. He pretends to be a nice guy. ‘Oh yes, I’m just here for the fans and I’m happy.’ Then in other places, he just talks a lot of sh!t.
“It is what it is. Be a man and say what you want to say.”
Alvarez (57-2-2, 39KOs) has made his feelings known for Golovkin for as long as the two have been in each other’s way. A third clash finally comes of their contentious rivalry, with Guadalajara’s Alvarez due to defend his undisputed super middleweight championship atop a September 17 DAZN Pay-Per-View from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Mexican superstar already enters with a chip on his shoulder after suffering a twelve-round, unanimous decision to Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11KOs) in a failed WBA light heavyweight title bid, also at T-Mobile this past May 5. The same venue hosted the previous two outings between Alvarez and Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (42-1-1, 37KOs), who comes off a ninth-round knockout of Ryota Murata to unify the WBA and IBF middleweight titles this past April in Saitama, Japan.
The trilogy battle—which was agreed to prior to Alvarez’s loss to Bivol—comes four years after their September 2018 rematch, where Alvarez was awarded a majority decision win to hand Golovkin (42-1-1, 37KOs) his only defeat and claim the WBC/WBA middleweight titles. That bout took place exactly 52 weeks after Golovkin was considered unlucky to have to settle for a highly questionable, twelve-round split decision draw.
Golovkin was once understandably not keen about returning to T-Mobile—or anywhere in Vegas—for a third fight with Alvarez. He made his feelings felt of the verdict from their first fight, as well as Alvarez’s drug testing scandal in early 2018 which resulted in a six-month suspension and the postponement of their planned May 2018 rematch. Golovkin and his team rode that storyline all the way into fight night, only to come up short on the three scorecards.
Alvarez has since emerged as by far the biggest draw at least in North America, winning a title at light heavyweight and becoming the first-ever undisputed super middleweight champion in the division’s 40-plus year history. His ring earnings and endorsements have regularly placed him among the world’s highest paid athletes.
Meanwhile, Golovkin’s career has flown well under the radar even in re-emerging as a two-time unified middleweight titlist. Just four fights have followed the loss to Alvarez, including a major scare in barely edging Sergiy Derevyanchenko in their October 2019 vacant IBF middleweight title fight. The plan was to land a third fight with Alvarez much sooner than four years after their first meeting. Instead, he agreed—begrudgingly or otherwise—to play the long game and moves up to the full super middleweight limit for the first time in his career all while having recently celebrated his 40th birthday which draws concern of whether he will be too far past his prime by fight night.
Stiil, it’s the Mexican superstar with the world at his fingertips who continues to hold a grudge—and now looks for closure.
“It’s very personal for me,” Alvarez admitted, a viewpoint he has carried from the moment the trilogy bout was confirmed. “This is the way I am. I don’t pretend to be some other person. I don’t say things to media and other place, then come here and pretend to be someone else. I don’t say anything I don’t want to say. It’s personal for me.
“He talked a lot of things. You know, guys. That’s why it’s personal. I just can’t wait to be in the ring.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox