Trainer Johnathon Banks says a highly motivated Gennady Golovkin will take the battle to Saul "Canelo" Alvarez from the first bell and must fight every round “like it is his last” if he is to come out on top in this weekend’s much-anticipated trilogy bout.
Golvokin, the current WBA and IBF middleweight champion, goes up against familiar foe Alvarez for the third time early this Sunday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, as he seeks to avenge his 2018 loss.
The points defeat four years ago, coming after a controversial split draw the previous year, represents Golovkin’s sole blemish in 44 professional fights.
The two contentious calls – many considered Golovkin won the first bout – have framed the build-up to this weekend’s clash, with Golovkin viewing it as an opportunity to write the wrongs of the rematch.
Alvarez, though, goes into the fight as the heavy favourite. Since the second Golovkin bout, the Mexican has gone on to become boxing’s pound-for-pound No 1 and its most bankable asset, while in the past year alone, he has held all four super-middleweight belts.
The defeat in May to WBA light-heavyweight Dmitry Bivol marked Alvarez's first loss in nine years – and second overall as a pro from 61 fights.
Golovkin, meanwhile, has won all four fights since 2018, including three under Banks’ tutelage. The pair began working together in May 2019.
Speaking to The National, Banks said Golovkin was raring to go for the trilogy, before breaking down what will be required to get what he believes a deserved victory on Sunday.
“It has to be a dominating performance,” Banks said. “He can’t afford to take any rounds off. Every round he’s got to be on point. That’s the goal.
“That’s what I’m telling him and that’s what I believe needs to happen. No seconds off, no minutes off. He’s got to start the round strong, finish it strong.
“He’ll have to go to work. He’ll have to let his hands go and be smart about the whole thing. Just got to take one round at a time. If you fight like every round is your last round, we’ll be in good position."
Banks added: “I’d be foolish to think all you have to do is go in there and knock him out. Who has knocked Canelo out? Nobody. For me to think that that would be insane.
“I think there’s ways he can hurt him, and they could be obvious. There are a couple things we’re working on, but for the most part he’s just got to outwork him every round. Let it be obvious what’s going on in there.”
In a closely fought encounter in 2017, one judge scored it wildly in Alvarez’s favour, giving him 10 of the 12 rounds. Another deemed the contest a draw, even if he did award the 7th – Golovkin’s standout round – to Alvarez.
However, while Banks said he did not want to leave the trilogy open to the judges’ call, he denied the game-plan had been devised with the previous controversy in mind.
“It's not because of the judges,” Banks said. “It’s because of the type of person [Golovkin's] in there with. But I think that’s just the smarter strategy: if we want to hurt this guy, we will get busy to keep him busy and make him desperate to start picking it up. That’s the whole point - making him uncomfortable.
“He just had this defeat [to Bivol]. So, by the time the sixth round comes, if his people tell him, ‘This fight is close, you’ve got to pick it up’, then he’s going to come in looking for a knockout – and that could get him in trouble.”
For the trilogy, Golovkin has moved to super-middleweight to compete for the first time at 168 lbs. The original two match-ups with Alvarez took place at 160 lbs.
Banks, who took up training in 2012 under the tutelage of legendary coach Emmanuel Steward, said the fact Alvarez has climbed through the divisions – he fought Bivol at light-heavyweight – should work in Golovkin’s favour, since the continuously increasing baulk has encouraged him to fight more on the front foot.
Still, Banks says Alvarez will be wary of Golovkin's resilience following their 2018 bout.
“When both fighters left the ring that night after the 12th round, I think both were different,” he said. “They both went through two tough battles. And it definitely changed them.
“Because Canelo looked at [Golovkin] and said, ‘Listen, you know what, I’m going to stay away from this guy. This guy is crazy. Everything I did he came right back’.
“No one ever did that to him before. He looked at him like, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with him’.
Alvarez, 32, has been particularly vocal in the lead-up, saying the rivalry is personal, that he is coming to “destroy” Golovkin. The Kazakhstan fighter turned 40 in April; Alvarez says he will send him into retirement this weekend.
As to what he makes of the Alvarez trash talk, Banks said: “He also said he can leap over a building with a single bounce. The man says what he feeling like saying.
“The man says it’s personal. The man says he’s coming to destroy him. The man says he will be finished after this fight, the man says this is ‘G’s’ last fight.
“Then he said he walked on water, then he walked through walls. And now he says he’s swam across the ocean 10 times but came back and he’s ready to fight. The man says a lot of things. What’s to make of it? I really don’t know.
“It’s part of the sport; guy’s say whatever they feel like saying, either to get themselves motivated, or try to get into the head of somebody that’s close to the fighter, or to stir up stuff through the media so the media have something to talk about.
“As a veteran fighter in the sport, ‘G’ should brush stuff like that off. It’s very hard to find a veteran in the sport that, when their opponents start talking and talking and talking, it affects them.
“Because that veteran knows the fight still has to happen, the bell still has to ring. So, whatever you say, doesn’t mean anything. As long as you show up to fight, that’s all that really matters.”