Canelo vs GGG sparring: How relevant is it?Written by Lee Cleveland
Boxing titans Canelo Alvarez and Gennady 'GGG' Golovkin will clash September 16 in what may the highest profile fight of the year.
However, the fight won't serve as the first time the two traded shots in a ring.
In 2011 or 2012, Canelo and GGG sparred in Big Bear, California, and there are varying accounts of what happened.
During an open media question-and-answers session last September, former light heavyweight champion Sergei Kovalev told reporters he saw the pair spar on three to four occasions in total. Keep in mind, Canelo is only 20 or 21 at the time, and a jr middleweight.
“I lived in Big Bear lake for one and a half year and I sparred with Gennady a lot of times and I saw when they (Ggg and Canelo) sparred each other," Sergey stated.
"They was like 50-50, Canelo looked very good with Gennady.”
However, rumors abound in the boxing forums that GGG had Canelo hurt several times.
Canelo vs GGG
Date: September 16, 2107
Broadcast: HBO PPV (US)
Champion: Golovkin (Consensus)
A boxing insider who was present at the Big Bear (CA) gym on the day when Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez sparred has shared his account of what happened: “Golovkin hurt Canelo twice – first liver and then head. Canelo came out strong trying to hurt him right away. Then Golovkin got him with a nice liver shot and then a few head shots that made Canelo spar a lot more gently. It was awkward in the room. It was Golovkin’s first real sparring in America. He was just here from Germany. I think Canelo (then age 21) was just getting ready for Afonso Gomez in Los Angeles (TKO 6 in September 2011).”
Canelo, of course, has a different account of what happened.
"I did a lot of sparring with him in the past, and I was 20-years-old when I did it, but I know what I can do," Canelo told FightHype last year.
"He’s a strong fighter. He’s a strong fighter more than anything, but he also knows how to do various thing."
"... It was one world champion middleweight against a world champion super welterweight. You don’t always see that. It was very good. He’s a very strong fighter, but I think I am also. I didn’t feel him/the power like people say, and that’s probably because I’m a strong fighter also,” Canelo added.
Several things should be taken into account:
1) Sparring is not Fighting. The intent is not to brutalize your opponent. It is a learning process for all who wish to participate. When someone with superior skills knocks out his opponent in the first round of a sparring match, nobody wins.
2) Canelo and Golovkin probably used 16 oz gloves when sparring, as opposed to the much small 10 oz used by professionals 154 pounds and up. Thus, there was more padding to protect the fighters and both men were surely a tad bit slower.
3) Given Canelo was only 21 or so and in a lighter weight class, GGG may have held back. And, of course, according to some accounts maybe he didn't. But keep in mind, there accounts that Wladimir Klitschko whopped Anthony Joshua when they sparred a few years back, yet two weeks ago the former was stopped by Joshua.
We shouldn't put a lot of emphasis on the Canelo vs GGG sparring sessions for the above reasons - and because they happened 5 or 6 years ago. Moreover, both fighters have improved since then, especially Canelo.
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.