An apex predator, also known as an alpha predator or apical predator, is a predator residing at the top of a food chain upon which no other creatures prey.
Finally, this coming Saturday on the 16th of September Gennady GGG Golovkin will fight Saul Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed Middleweight Championship of the world.
Some boxers may be ranked above them in terms of pound for pound accolades, however everyone knows that the fight between the two men – long overdue is essentially between the two best and perhaps feared boxers on the planet.
Two predators at the peak of their physical abilities, at the top of boxing’s food chain will fight for supremacy.
A true battle of Alphas.
This is a story of conflict & conquest.
Growth & Maturity
The grey wolf inhabits land from North America to the steppes of Eurasia where GGG was born in a remote corner of the crumbling Soviet Empire April 8th,1982 in Karaganda, Kazakhstan.
The grey wolf is easily identified by its molted grey color, larger size and is the second most specialized member of genus Canis.
A slender but powerful build allows it to overcome geographic obstacles as well as range broad and boundless over its territory.
The wolf is highly territorial, often seizing control over an area far larger than they require.
So too has GGG spread his control over the middleweight division for nearly a decade.
From shore to shore, from Europe to Central and North America GGG has preyed upon over matched fighters in the squared circle and compiled a body count nearly unrivaled among active fighters.
As the crow flies 7,559 miles from Karaganda in Guadalajara, Mexico a young upstart pup was born just 27 years ago. Santos Saúl Álvarez Barragán – known simply as Canelo. A born fighter with a taste for blood Canelo grew up in the back alleys and dusty streets of the Mexican city practicing his boxing technique with his first pack leader – brother Rigoberto.
Like Rigoberto, Gennady’s brother Max realized that these wolves would become even better hunters than they were and have since dedicated their time to helping the two sharpen their instincts.
GGG moved on to California and connected with legendary trainer Abel Sanchez – a true boxing anorak. From the beginning Sanchez knew what he had and was sure he could aid GGG in the ways of the hunt.
Canelo too moved on and was given over to brothers Jose and Eddy Reynoso who dedicate 100% of their efforts to training Canelo.
Photo Credits: Sean M. Haffey
It can be said the GGG knows little else but being the alpha. He’s been champion since he knocked out John Anderson Carvalho in the 2nd round winning the vacant WBO intercontinental middleweight title on July 11th, 2009. One year later in August 2010, fittingly at Arena Roberto Duran (a boxer many have compared GGG to) in Panama City, Panama GGG became interim WBA world middleweight champion blitzing Milton Nunez at just 58 seconds of round one.
GGG added the vacant IBO title 16 months later with another vicious first round Kayo of Lajuan Simon. Multiple defenses against Curtis Stevens, Mathew Macklin, Daniel Geale and Gabe Rosado among other followed until GGG took on the gritty Marco Antonio Rubio in October 2014 for the interim WBC title. Normally a light heavyweight Rubio struggled on the scale and failed to make weight. No matter, GGG knocked him out in the 2nd round.
Martin Murray faced GGG next in February 2015. This was the first time GGG was remotely challenged by another predator. Murray had brief moments of success. However, the constant stalking by GGG turned a predator into just another kill.
GGG landed thudding body shots in the 4th round that sent Murray down twice. That changed the entire complexion of the fight and thereafter Murray was a shell of himself and continued to diminish. Murray was down again in the 10th. When ref Luis Pabon waived the fight off in the 11th it was an act of mercy.
Hard hitting French Canadian David Lemieux was next to surrender his IBF belt in October 2017 at Madison Square Garden. Lemieux was down in the 5th round and ref Steve Willis was forced to step in to save the slugger in the 8th round. Lemieux is a powerful puncher in his own right but wilted when he got a taste of his own medicine.
GGG has continued to stake his claim as the elite Alpha in the middleweight division.
However, some upstarts on the sidelines think this hunter is aging. Weakening. Perhaps showing signs that a would-be subordinate may usurp GGG’s position in the pack.
The first truly competitive fight for GGG in years came from Daniel Jacobs this past March at the world-famous cathedral of combat Madison Square Garden in NYC. GGG prowled the ring as he always does and scored an early knockdown. However, Jacobs largely stood in front of GGG and the two ripped into each other with tooth and claw. GGG retained his standing in the pack with a tight but unanimous decision.
Photo Credits: Al Bello
By contrast Canelo Alvarez has made a virtual living out of toppling one former alpha after another. Following his victory over Miguel Cotto Canelo exclaimed in Spanish that now it was Mi Era; My Era.
This wolf has used his size and strength to demonstrate dominance.
And it was that power that first made others in the animal kingdom take notice when Canelo became the first to stop the veteran Carlos Baldomir in 16 years almost seven years ago to the day he will face GGG.
Photo Credits: Robyn Beck
Canelo did virtually the same thing beating the aging Shane Mosely in May 2012. The wily veteran Mosley out foxed Canelo early but the power of the young wolf just 19, shown through and Mosely was left battered by the end of the bout. This fight also marked Canelo’s 4th successful defense of the WBC 154-pound title.
Next Canelo claimed the WBA version from Austin Trout. The fight was supposed to be close on paper and it largely delivered. Yet, once again the power of the Canelo separated them when a right-hand punch sent Trout down for the first time in his career in the 7th round likely sealing the victory for the Mexican.
Photo Credits: Donald Miralle
Canelo first took a swipe at unseating the alpha when he fought the one and only Floyd Mayweather four years ago this week in Las Vegas. The power of the wolf this time was negated by the cageyness of the leopard. Floyd moved, used angles and did not engage unless he wanted to. The zealousness of the upstart was his undoing and by the middle rounds the young hungry wolf was reduced to a freighted pup.
Photo Credits: Ethan Miller
The first loss was bitter. Something GGG has not yet had to contend with.
Following that loss Canelo has improved and continues to do so, even adopting some of the masterful defensive skills of the old master who handed him that defeat. Since then Canelo has continued his unabated march to conquer more territory and claim more prey to feed his aspirations for controlling the pack.
Canelo has another chance to challenge for pack dominance this Saturday September 16th.
To say GGG is a pressure fighter is to state the obvious.
He is relentless in stalking his prey wounding them as they try vainly to fight back. He attacks the body with a powerful left look reminiscent ironically of great Mexican fighters.
GGG first bites down on his prey with his jab, one of the best and most prolific jabs in boxing in fact. GGG sets up all his offense with that powerful jab, his strong fundamentals owing no doubt to his copious amateur experience.
Photo Credits: Al Bello
GGG also possesses incredible balance allowing him to absorb punishment and return fire quickly and with power. It is that feared power – brutal and concussive that is in a way his defense, opponents are so weary of being hit by him they will not risk loading up and sitting down on anything.
GGG’s win over David Lemieux exemplifies this. In the middleweight division, there are few fighters who possess true one punch KO power more ferocious than the French-Canadian Lemieux. However, he does suffer from a real lack in fight IQ. GGG worked behind a power jab for several rounds dissipating Lemieux’s attack.
The wins over Martin Murray and Daniel Jacobs are instructive as well.
Both men are huge for the middleweight class! Here the wolf fought the brown bear – the size of his opponents in this case was almost a detriment. Murray who has fought at Super middleweight did his best to be a moving target and GGG frequently a head hunter broke Murray down with body work instead – the head can move – the body cannot. Jacobs figured he’d be big enough and strong enough to withstand GGG’s power. Yet, GGG scored an early knockdown creating an insurmountable deficit for Jacobs. The wolf is also a patient hunter and GGG moved and boxed showing high fight IQ and the ability to remain in control during a protracted hunt.
Canelo is every bit the young powerful challenger. Eight years Golovkin’s junior Canelo has grown strong feasting on prey mostly in lower weight categories. He has also evolved into a more skillful and crafty hunter with time.
Canelo has demonstrated he learned more from his loss to Floyd Mayweather than nearly any of his wins. Canelo is an accurate, powerful boxer-puncher – something of a dying breed today.
Canelo can counterpunch very effectively, especially over the jab. Canelo’s one-sided assault of Chavez Jr leaves little to analyze with one exception. Chavez Jr had a three-inch height and three-inch reach advantage over Canelo yet Canelo landed straight, powerful counter right hand punches over Jr’s jab while expertly slipping.
Canelo’s punch variety and selection is also beautiful to watch – if brutal for his opponents.
His sickening Kayos of Amir Khan and James Kirkland are emblematic.
And of course, like any good Mexican fighter he possesses a crippling left hook to the body.
The match between GGG and Canelo leaves little contrast between them. Both are of similar height. They have an identical reach. Their styles are eerily similar as well.
Where they differ are their weaknesses.
GGG lacks head movement, this is no secret and though he took some direct hits from Lemieux, Jacobs, Murray even Kell Brook he was unmoved. Can he afford to take them from a brutal counter puncher like Canelo? GGG is also a massive puncher but he’s predictable. He has a clever corkscrew overhand right that can be tricky for opponents as he throws this punch usually to a retreating opponent over/through their guard. It’s an effective punch and GGG knocked Marco Antonio Rubio out with it in short order. GGG is not a counter puncher. Some fighters throw punches, stop and admire their work – GGG gets hit, stops and admires yours, he freezes for just a split second, comes forward and throws back. If Canelo can hit and move he would be very effective in exploiting these lapses in concentration.
Canelo while he has grown bigger and stronger as the years have gone on many believe this has hurt him. He’s been criticized for fatiguing in fights in the past though I always suspected this was due to struggling to make the junior middleweight limit and now as a full-fledged middleweight he will be bigger, stronger and more powerful than ever. This could be a blessing or a curse.
Consider this; Canelo can be a static fighter. He did not move his feet much even at the lighter weights. Now older and bigger the additional size could hamper his movement even more. Unless he truly has no intention of moving much at all – instead if he has packed on the size to out muscle and out work GGG on the inside where it can be argued GGG struggles this could also be an area Canelo can find an advantage.
Teeth bared and hackles raised the two alphas will circle each other, snarling and gnashing.
This is a rare, brief, extraordinary, violent clash… for as long as it lasts.
All the animal kingdom will stand and take notice.
As O.R. Melling once wrote:
To run with the wolf was to run in the shadows, the dark ray of life, survival and instinct. A fierceness that was both proud and lonely, a tearing, a howling, a hunger and thirst. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst. A strength that would die fighting, kicking, screaming, that wouldn't stop until the last breath had been wrung from its body. The will to take one's place in the world. To say, 'I am here.' To say 'I am.