One year ago today, the boxing world eagerly awaited the superfight that would elevate the sport to new heights as Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez looked to determine who the fight game’s top dog is.
The episode, focused on the September 16 rematch between Alvarez and Golovkin, opens with the two boxers proclaiming extreme contempt in their native tongues (Golovkin speaking Russian and Alvarez speaking Spanish). The opening has both boxers training in their respective gyms, the same ones from a year ago, but the mindset for each fighter is completely different compared to the first fight.
Narrator Liev Schreiber briefly touched on the pair’s shared history as sparring partners early in their career before moving straight to recapping the first fight. The first half of the episode dives deep into the 2017 fight between the two with HBO Boxing play-by-play man Jim Lampley giving his thoughts from a time that seemed so long ago, yet only happened less than 12 months ago.
The recap showcases Golovkin’s slow start and Canelo’s early ability to force Golovkin to fight the type of fight the Mexican wanted to have. Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez then talks about how he wasn’t really worried about the unified champion’s relatively sluggish and uncharacteristic start in that first fight.
Schreiber then said Sanchez’s honesty after the first few rounds lit a fire under Golovkin’s belly. As the boxing world had seen on September 16, 2017, Golovkin started winning the fight in the middle rounds until Alvarez got his turn to land punches, including one right hand from Alvarez that stunned Golovkin late in the fight. Alvarez felt comfortable when proclaiming on the show that his right hand hurt his opponent.
But as the recap concluded, the viewers are reminded of the controversy surrounding the decision, which saw Alvarez win 118-110 on one scorecard, forcing the draw. Even Lampley said there was no way Alvarez, or even Golovkin for that matter, had won 10 rounds in that fight.
After another recap of the post-fight press conference where both men claimed they were the rightful winner (with Sanchez saying Adalaide Byrd’s 118-110 scorecard was already filled out before the fight), the episode then moves over to the elephant in the room: Alvarez testing positive twice for the banned substance clenbuterol.
Alvarez’s trainer Chepo Reynoso echoed Alvarez’s claims that he tested positive due to contaminated meat and not through knowingly injecting himself with the banned substance. This prompts Schreiber to mention how many in boxing are not exactly on board with Alvarez’s reasoning.
The show then briefly turns to Golovkin’s May 5 knockout win against Vanes Martirosyan and then it goes back to Camp Canelo. The focus on the training for the Mexican remains largely the same as trainer “Chepo” Reynoso does not believe that it is not rocket science for someone of Alvarez’s abilities to exploit what he perceives to be Golovkin’s several weaknesses and one-track mind to fight on the offensive throughout all 12 rounds. The show ends with another reminder of the animosity between the two boxers.
The bulk of the episode is nothing groundbreaking as most of it deals with the past 12 months and most people are already aware of what has transpired since that first fight. But the show’s opening and underlying theme showed that while the first fight was a battle for middleweight supremacy, the rematch has evolved into a personal rivalry full of disdain for each other and the very idea of fighter integrity at stake.