Canelo vs Golovkin III: Ranking Boxing’s Greatest Trilogies
This could turn out to be one of the most important events in boxing history. This Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, just outside of Las Vegas, it’s the fight we’ve been waiting four years to see: Canelo vs. Golovkin III. That’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez facing Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in a super middleweight title bout between two of the biggest names in the sport.
Will the third fight of their trilogy live up to the first two? At press time, Canelo is a chalky –600 favourite on the boxing betting lines at Bodog Sportsbook. Maybe that’s the right price; Golovkin had to settle for a split draw in Chapter One back in 2017, then Canelo won the rematch the following year via majority decision.
Both those results were highly controversial, though. And while Golovkin is now a spry 40 years of age, he did go on to win his next four fights and collect some more titles – in the middleweight division. Golovkin is moving up from 160 to 168 pounds to try and reclaim the belts Canelo (age 32) took from him four years ago.
It won’t be easy. Canelo still has only two losses to his name; the first was to Floyd Mayweather Jr. nine years ago in another majority decision, and the second was in his last fight against Dmitry Bivol, where Canelo couldn’t hang with his opponent and dropped a unanimous decision after moving up to light heavyweight.
Their rematch, if Bivol ever gets one, will have to wait. Right now, Canelo has Golovkin on his plate, and in his words, this is “personal” between the two. Canelo has even expressed pleasure that he forced Golovkin to wait four years for this, and to compete at Canelo’s preferred weight.
With that backstory in mind, maybe Saturday’s fight will be better than the first two. It might even make the Canelo-Golovkin trilogy the best that boxing has ever seen. But for now, that honour goes to the first matchup on our top five list here at Bodog.
Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier (1971, 1974, 1975)
Of course we had to start with The Greatest. There has never been a boxer as popular as Muhammad Ali, and Ali never had an opponent as tough as Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Their first fight at Madison Square Garden was billed as The Fight of the Century; Ali had been stripped of his WBA and WBC titles in 1967 for refusing to join the draft for the Vietnam War, and this was his first chance to win them back against the equally undefeated Frazier.
It didn’t happen. Frazier won their first fight by unanimous decision, but when they met again three years later at the Garden for Super Fight II, Ali got the nod from all three judges in a relatively boring affair. They made up for it in their third and final fight, the Thrilla in Manila, a very close contest that Ali won in the 14th round after Frazier’s corner threw in the proverbial towel – despite Frazier’s desire to continue.
If only they had both retired at that point. Ali would go on to win his next six bouts before falling to Leon Spinks in 1978; Frazier was never the same, losing to George Foreman and eking out a majority draw against Floyd Cumming before hanging up the gloves. But at least they left us with two of the very best boxing matches of all time.
Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward (2002, 2002, 2003)
Arturo Gatti was one of the most popular fighters of the early 2000s, but he was known mostly for his 2001 loss to Oscar De La Hoya when he met “Irish” Micky Ward for the first time at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
And what a fight that was. There were no titles on the line in this light welterweight bout, just pride, and both men left the ring with their heads held high – although it was Ward who earned the majority decision. Gatti took the next two fights in Atlantic City by unanimous decision, then went on to win his first major title in 2004, while Ward retired immediately after their trilogy.
Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar Johansson (1959, 1960, 1961)
Floyd Patterson was a middleweight when he won gold for the USA at the 1952 Summer Games, and he never did get the respect he craved as a heavyweight – partly because of his shocking loss to Ingemar Johansson at Yankee Stadium. Johansson knocked the champion down seven times before the referee finally stopped the fight in the third round.
Patterson became the first man to reclaim the undisputed heavyweight title when he knocked Johansson out cold in their rematch at the Polo Grounds, then Patterson scored another knockout in Chapter Three at Miami Beach. The two became friends afterward, and Patterson would go on to compete for another decade to mixed reviews, while Johansson went back to his native Sweden and won his next four fights before calling in quits in 1963.
Emile Griffith vs. Benny Paret (1961, 1961, 1962)
Here’s a sober reminder of what’s at stake when Canelo and Golovkin touch gloves this Saturday. Emile Griffith and Benny Paret went toe-to-toe in their welterweight trilogy, with Griffith winning the first by knockout, Paret taking the second by split decision, and Griffith the third by TKO. Unfortunately, Paret died from the injuries sustained in that last fight, while Griffith passed away from dementia pugilistica in 2013, having endured nightmares over Paret’s fate for the rest of this life.
Marcos Antonio Barrera vs. Erik Morales (2000, 2002, 2004)
You don’t have to be a “pure” boxing fan to appreciate the smaller weight divisions. If you haven’t seen the footage of this trilogy between Marcos Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, make sure to get an eyeful; Morales won the first fight at super bantamweight, then Barrera took the next two at featherweight and super featherweight. Each of the three bouts was a banger, turning Barrera and Morales into cult heroes back in Mexico and around the boxing world.
Will Canelo keep his demigod status intact when he returns to Mexico after Saturday’s bout? We will find out soon enough. In the meantime, check out the boxing odds at Bodog Sportsbook for all of the different ways you can bet on this fight, and we’ll see you inside the squared circle.