Matador over bull, butterfly over bee, boxer over slugger.
When everything else is as equal as Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin seems to be, that is normally the bet.
The fact that Canelo is a matador with sharp horns, and that Golovkin is a .300 hitter and his victims have tremendous exit velocity, is why Saturday should be one of boxing’s indelible nights.
Golovkin is 37-0 with 33 knockouts, mostly of the hey-watch-this variety. Canelo is 49-1-1. Floyd Mayweather’s soft-shoe with Conor McGregor last month mocked boxing. This fight worships it.
Why is this middleweight championship so fascinating?
Boxing is largely resistant to upsets. Everyone remembers Buster Douglas and Mike Tyson. But there is usually a decisive favorite, and usually that favorite wins decisively.
As of Thursday, Golovkin was a slight favorite (minus-155), far from the consensus he once enjoyed.
Freddie Roach trained Miguel Cotto against Canelo and refuses to be swayed. He thinks Golovkin will win by knockout, maybe an early one.
“They’ve both got to come to fight,” Roach said. “That’s what this fight demands. If that’s what happens, Golovkin wins. Nobody today can cut the ring off like he can.”
But some trainers remember that Pernell Whitaker outboxed Julio Cesar Chavez in what was judged a draw, and Ray Leonard beat Thomas Hearns in the 14th round as Hearns led on the scorecards.
If it comes down to tactics and science, they like Canelo.
“I just think it’s his time,” said Manny Robles, who trains featherweight champion Oscar Valdez. “I think it’s the prime of Canelo’s career. They talk about Triple G and how he cuts off the ring, but Canelo knows how to fight moving backwards.
“And it can work the other way, too. What happens when Canelo backs up Triple G? He’s not used to that. We’ll see how he reacts to the pressure. But I won’t be shocked at anything that happens.”
Naazim Richardson was Shane Mosley’s trainer when Canelo decisioned Mosley. At the time he wasn’t impressed with Canelo. He has reassessed.
“This is unusual because Canelo is younger (27, and GGG is 35) but he’s more experienced professionally,” Richardson said. “He’s been on bigger stages. He’s taken on challenges, like Ersilandy Lara and Floyd Mayweather and Shane. He’s faced adversity and he’s learned. I don’t know what adversity Golovkin has faced.
“Canelo tried to take out Cotto with big shots. Against Amir Khan, he waited and…