They say that the absence makes the heart grow fonder. But it's clear that heading into his third encounter with Gennadiy Golovkin, for Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, familiarity breeds contempt.
That was on full display as the two rivals participated in a short media tour to formally announce this event that takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on September 17. The two were in Los Angeles on Friday, and then shared the stage again in New York this past Monday.
It's clear, that was once a respectful rivalry between two world-class boxers, has now become a full-blown blood feud. And despite having won the rematch back in 2018, and coming in as the favorite for this upcoming contest, Alvarez, didn't hide his....dare we say it, hatred, towards Golovkin.
Coming off his May loss to WBA light heavyweight titlist, Dmitry Bivol, Canelo stated that he was, "more motivated, more dangerous, I really want to be in the ring again -- especially against this guy, Golovkin. He's talking a lot of shit. So it's going to be a good fight."
Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports
He later told a group of reporters at the Hollywood Legion Theater about 'GGG': "He always talks about I'm 'scared', I'm 'running away', when I'm fighting the best guys out there -- and he's fighting class-D fighters. He's been talking a lot about me. So that's why it's personal for me."
There was a time, as they sparred years ago when both were building their careers, they were friendly colleagues. But in the wake of 24 heated rounds in 2017 and 2018, where both decisions were disputed -- one a draw, the other a split verdict for the Mexican superstar -- that dynamic has changed drastically.
But where the tenor of this relationship really changed was when Alvarez failed a VADA drug test prior to their scheduled rematch in May of 2018. It was at that point that Golovkin made some pointed remarks about Alvarez. Then there was his bitterness about the decision that was rendered in the second match-up.
At the press conference in LA, Golovkin spoke with great contentment and calm. For him, getting this third crack (and lucrative payday) with Alvarez is a victory in itself given that he felt it would never come to fruition, regardless of what contractual stipulations were in his old deal with DAZN and Golden Boy Promotions.
Alvarez is a prideful fighter, it's part of the reason why he has reached the heights he has.He has clearly felt disrespected by Golovkin. There was a palpable tension as the pair faced off later that afternoon. The goal for Canelo is clear, score a knockout and send Golovkin into retirement in ignominious fashion. He said doing so would be, ''sweet''.
He went as far as to say that while Golovkin likes to give out a amiable public persona, in private he's much different. Alvarez labeled him an, ''asshole''.
Yes, those are certainly fighting words.
Golovkin remarked,"if it's personal to him, and it's personal to his team, you should ask him: what is it exactly? Because in my opinion I don't take it personal. He believes that it's personal, my question is: why did he delay this fight for so long?"
As far as he concerned, they were on cordial -- if not good -- terms after their memorable clash in 2018.
"When the fight is over, you hug each other, shake hands and you put everything past," said Golovkin, through an interpreter. "If your opponent says that it's personal to him, maybe I did not learn about him that well."
"I don't know why he's surprised," said Canelo. But he hopes that Golovkin has the same energy towards him. "I hope so, he's going to need it."
Golovkin says this is just another prizefight for him. Alvarez has certainly made this into something much more personal.
When asked if he's felt this way about any other opponent in the past, Alvarez answered, "I think with Caleb Plant, maybe. But this is a little more."
This is the biggest bout of Johnathan Banks' career as a trainer. He may not admit that, but the reality is that it's assignments like this that can really set the legacy of a cornerman. Banks took the reigns from Abel Sanchez back in 2019, and most recently lead Golovkin to a 9th round stoppage of Ryoto Murata back in April.
It was a solid effort, that saw Golovkin get rolling in the middle rounds, and wear down the game Japanese fighter with a consistent two-fisted attack.
"I thought he had a pretty good performance," stated Banks, last Friday. "I don't think it was the best he ever did, but we're progressing each fight, getting better and better."
Banks has talked about getting Golovkin to fight with a ''rhythm'' and not be so reliant on his vaunted power.
"It's like anything, it's almost to the point where you first start something, you start with a seed, then you put the seeds into the dirt, the more you water it, the more you nurture it, it's supposed to grow," he explained. "I think that's the situation we've got going on now. The seed was planted, the proper things were instilled in it, we watered it right, and I think he's able to grow.
Courtesy of Team GGG
"And we're not going to even call him a mature fighter, he was already that, just say that he'll be more efficient at this stage."
Golovkin says of his evolving relationship with Banks that he's, "extremely comfortable, satisfied with everything, no second thoughts. If something does not go well during my performance, I can only blame myself for it.
"But in terms of how I trainer, it's seamless."
WBO featherweight belt-holder, Emanuel Navarrete, will face Eduardo Baez on August 20 at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego. This fight will be part of his new multi-year promotional pact with Top Rank....Matchroom Sports announced earlier in the week that they have signed WBC 115-pound champion, Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez to a multi-year contract extension....Four-time champion, Mikey Garcia, has announced his retirement from the ring. He finishes with a mark of 40-2(30 KOs) and titles at featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and jr. welterweight....According to Mike Coppinger of ESPN, Teofimo Lopez will face Pedro Campa on August 13 at Resorts World in Las Vegas. I'm told blue-chip prospect, Xander Zayas, will be co-headlining on ESPN.....Great to hear that 'Succession' on HBO is back in production for another season....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....