It's personal: Canelo predicts KO in 3rd bout with Golovkin

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Canelo Álvarez is hurting after his first loss in nearly a decade, and he's still angry about everything that's happened during five years of fighting and arguing with Gennady Golovkin.

Álvarez says he is determined to channel all of those bad feelings into a spectacular knockout win over Golovkin when they complete their rivalry trilogy on Sept. 17 in Las Vegas.

The Mexican superstar declared his third fight with Golovkin to be a grudge match Friday as they began promoting their showdown with a news conference in Hollywood. Álvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) was beaten in stunning fashion by light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol seven weeks ago, but he guaranteed he will “definitely” punch the 40-year-old Golovkin into retirement by stopping him for the first time in his career.

“(It will be) so sweet,” Álvarez said. “For me, it’s going to be very satisfying because of everything that’s come around this fight.”

Álvarez's personal dislike of Golovkin seemed awfully genuine, even while Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) downplayed any personal animus. The fighters stood nose-to-nose and motionless on stage in Hollywood for nearly two full minutes before a fairly terse news conference.

Neither fighter can deny their rivalry has included years of trash talk, particularly after Canelo's failed drug test in 2018, preceding the only loss of Golovkin's career.

“He always pretends to be a nice guy in front of people, but he’s a (jerk),” Álvarez said. “That’s what he is. I don’t pretend to be nice. This is who I am. I don’t pretend to be another person, and he’s always pretending in front of you, ‘Oh, I’m a nice guy.’ He’s not.”

They've also met in two incredibly close fights that stand among the best moments of both fighters' careers. The first bout in 2017 was ruled a split draw, while Álvarez won the rematch by a narrow majority decision.

Golovkin sought a third fight much earlier than Álvarez. The coronavirus pandemic played a role in Álvarez's decision to wait four years for the rubber match, but he also admits he waited partly because he simply doesn't like Golovkin.

Golovkin dismisses Álvarez’s bold statements about a knockout as fight posturing.

“If it's so personal for him, my question is why was he putting off the (third fight) for so long?” Golovkin asked through his interpreter. “If it's personal, you should ask him why.”

Álvarez says it's because he was busy rounding up all four super middleweight title belts in 2021 — but it's also because of Golovkin's trash talk, particularly in languages other than English. Álvarez wasn't specific about what comments set him off.

Golovkin reacted to his 2018 loss to Canelo with characteristic cool, yet he has fought only four times in the ensuing four years while he sought the chance for redemption and the massive payday offered by a third fight with Álvarez. Golovkin took 2021 off before returning to the ring last April with a ninth-round stoppage of Ryota Murata.

“From an emotional standpoint, I've completely cooled down,” Golovkin claimed. “I believe it's just another fight. But I was still fighting, and he was participating in golf tournaments. That's something he should do, but jumping around in weight classes, I don't know.”

Golovkin's comment was veiled shade at Álvarez, whose near-daily golf habit became a popular thing to blame for his surprising loss to Bivol last month. Álvarez said he absolutely won't stop playing golf, but he intends to improve the conditioning that left him visibly wearier as the fight with Bivol went on.

“He always talks about I’m scared, I’m running away,” Álvarez said. “(He says) I’m not fighting the best guys out there, (while) he’s fighting those Class D fighters. He’s talking a lot of things about me, so that’s why it’s special to me.”

Golovkin will move up to super middleweight for the first time in his career for the third bout with Álvarez, who holds all four major championship belts at 168 pounds. Golovkin was the long-reigning kingpin of the middleweight division before his loss to Álvarez, but he has since reclaimed two of the belts.

Both fighters live in Southern California. They'll meet again on Monday in New York.

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