From the moment Gennady Golovkin walked out of T-Mobile Arena last year feeling scorned, and from the instant Canelo Alvarez found out he’d submitted a positive drug test, the fighters have longed to settle things in the ring.
Their pent-up hostility seeped out Friday after each made weight for their middleweight championship rematch Saturday night.
With champion Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 knockouts) standing for a face-off pose, Mexico’s former two-division champion Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) rushed forward to press his forehead against Golovkin’s, charging up the already tense scene.
“He did it to show ‘I’m not scared,’” said Alvarez’s co-promoter Bernard Hopkins, the former long-reigning middleweight champion.
Golovkin said the chaos “wasn’t our fault … he came to us and their security did a lousy job. It was fear, his way of avoiding looking into my eyes,” after Alvarez bypassed a stare-down at Wednesday’s news conference.
The most heated interaction was between Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez and Alvarez’s father-son cornermen Chepo and Eddy Reynoso. Eddy grabbed at Sanchez’s arms and barked at him and Chepo aimed heated words, too.
Alvarez “wanted to get physical and I said, ‘Let’s get physical [Saturday] night.’ We’re not bothered. I turned my back on him,” Sanchez said. “What you saw up there was Canelo’s world crumbling around him. This is the best ‘GGG’ I’ve ever trained, and there’s no escape for Canelo. Gennady is trained and ready to shoot the works.”
Sanchez repeatedly has criticized Alvarez for his positive tests for the banned substance clenbuterol and characterize Alvarez as unwilling to engage Golovkin on equal terms in their first bout, which was ruled a draw, last September.
“Canelo is fed up and he’s going to show it,” Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya said. “I saw fear in Golovkin’s face for the first time. When a fighter pulls back, he’s hesitant — scared. That’s a telling sign. I feel good about my guy.”
Alvarez appears leaner than the last fight. The eight-years-younger challenger is banking on the leanness for speed and punching volume that can both win him rounds and tire the older champion down the stretch.
“For the most part, I did a very good job in the first fight,” Alvarez said this week. “The error I made was there were some points he was vulnerable and I didn’t take advantage of it. I’m going to make sure when he’s vulnerable — and when I can counter-punch — I’m going to take advantage of that. That’s what we’re adding to the strategy.”
Golovkin has been fueled by his disdain for Alvarez and his belief that the business of boxing favors the more popular fighter with the greater number of lucrative pay-per-view bouts.
Alvarez underlined his “A-side” status Friday by refusing to rise from a seated position after the ring announcer accidentally introduced him first at the weigh-in. Because of Alvarez’s stronger drawing power — he’ll earn a 55 percent cut of the purse compared to Golovkin’s 45 percent — he has it written in the fight contract to weigh in and walk to the ring last.
Golovkin is expected to more fervently pursue a knockout after acknowledging he doesn’t trust judges — even with the return of Dave Moretti, who scored the first bout for Golovkin, 115-113, and the addition of respected veteran judges Steve Weisfeld and Glenn Feldman.
“I believe it will be an amazing show, my biggest gift to the people,” Golovkin said.
Main event: Gennady Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) vs. Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) for Golovkin’s World Boxing Council and World Boxing Assn. middleweight belts
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Television: HBO pay-per-view, $84.95
When: 5 p.m.
Undercard: Jaime Munguia (30-0, 25 KOs) vs. Brandon Cook (20-1, 13 KOs) for Munguia’s World Boxing Organization light-middleweight belt; David Lemieux (39-4, 33 KOs) vs. Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (28-2, 20 KOs), middleweights; Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs) vs. Moises Fuentes (25-5-1, 14 KOs), super-flyweights