Canelo-GGG 3: The long road to the trilogy

One of the most highly anticipated trilogies appears to be finally heading to its conclusion. After five years of back and forth, it appears that Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin will settle their differences before the end of 2022. 

Canelo has to first take care of business against Dmitry Bivol in Las Vegas, but with Golovkin stopping Ryoto Murata in March, we are closer than we ever have been to a third fight in this contentious rivalry. 

MORE: Join DAZN to watch Canelo vs. Bivol

The Sporting News takes a look back at the respective journeys of both fighters and the timeline of one of the hottest feuds in boxing. 

May 1, 2010

Canelo makes Las Vegas debut

After signing a multi-fight deal with Golden Boy Promotions, Canelo made his Las Vegas debut against Jose Cotto in a welterweight contest as the co-featured bout on the Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley pay-per-view event, two fighters he’d face later in his career.

Canelo survived an opening round when the older brother of Miguel Cotto staggered him with a left hook. The then-19-year-old regained his composure, scored a knockdown in the second round and finished a fading Cotto in the ninth.

August 14, 2010

Golovkin begins middleweight title journey

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After starting his career 18-0 with 15 knockouts, Golovkin got his first taste of middleweight gold when he pulverized Milton Nunez in under a minute to become the WBA interim middleweight champion.

March 11, 2011

Canelo wins first major world title

Leaving the welterweight division behind, Canelo began his campaign at 154 pounds and beat Matthew Hatton by unanimous decision to win the WBC light-middleweight championship.

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November 1, 2012

GGG becomes full champion

As Golovkin’s reign of terror in the middleweight division picked up steam, he was elevated to full champion when Daniel Geale was stripped for refusing to fight him. At that point, Golovkin was 24-0 and in the midst of a blistering knockout streak that was at eleven and counting.

January 19, 2013

Golovkin bludgeons Rosado in a frightening beatdown

The official arrival of GGG came in devastating fashion when he pulverized Gabriel Rosado with a vicious salvo of offense that caused Rosado’s corner to rescue their fighter from irreversible damage. Rosado’s trainer, Billy Briscoe, was famously caught on camera pleading with the Puerto Rican’s father to stop the fight.

“I gotta stop it,” Briscoe can be heard saying. “Your son’s gonna die!”

“The Boogeyman” had arrived.

April 20, 2013

Canelo unifies titles, becomes a certified box office draw

In his toughest test to date, Canelo defeated Austin Trout by unanimous decision to retain his WBC title and added the WBA and The Ring light-middleweight championships to his collection.

Perhaps the bigger story is the nearly 40,000 who attended the fight at the Alamodome in San Antonio, marking the moment that Canelo stepped into stardom.

September 14, 2013

Humbled by Money

After being unbeaten over the course of 43 fights, Canelo is served a huge slice of humble pie when the then-23-year-old is thoroughly dominated by a 36-year-old Floyd Mayweather for his WBC and The Ring light-middleweight titles. The silver lining is the lessons that Canelo picked up in the fight, along with the 2.2 million pay-per-view buys generated in the Mexican’s first time headlining a pay-per-view.

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He would depart the light-middleweight division and wouldn’t lose another fight.

October 18, 2014

Golovkin adds another title, sets up Canelo fight

This truly marked the beginning of the Canelo-GGG collision. Golovkin needed just two rounds to put Marco Antonio Rubio away to become the interim WBC middleweight titleholder. At the time, Miguel Cotto was the WBC middleweight champion but would be stripped a year later ahead of his fight with Canelo Alvarez.

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November 21, 2015

Canelo gets first taste of middleweight gold

At a catchweight of 155 pounds, Canelo defeated Miguel Cotto to win The Ring middleweight title and claim the vacant WBC championship. With Golovkin the interim titleholder, the expectation was that the two would meet next. But that wouldn’t be the case.

May 7, 2016

Canelo “ducking” GGG?

Rather than immediately face Golovkin, Canelo stepped into the ring with Amir Khan, who jumped up two weight classes. Canelo obliterated Khan with a right hand in the sixth round to retain the WBC and The Ring middleweight titles.

MORE: Canelo Alvarez taking potential trilogy fight vs. Gennadiy Golovkin personally: ‘Don’t f— with me’

Canelo and his team invited Golovkin into the ring and teased a potential fight between the two. Canelo said “let’s fight now” and it seemed that all systems were a go for a massive middleweight showdown. Nine days later, Canelo vacated the WBC title instead of facing GGG and moved back down to light-middleweight. Fight fans accused Canelo of “ducking” GGG and the saga regarding when the fight would happen began taking shape.

March 18, 2017

Golovkin’s stock rises

Golovkin’s remarkable 23-fight knockout streak came to an end when he narrowly gets by Daniel Jacobs to retain the WBA (Super), IBF and WBC welterweight titles. The only title that is preventing GGG from becoming undisputed at 160 pounds is the WBO championship, held at the time by Billy Joe Saunders. The world was clamoring to see GGG back in action. But before Golovkin could unify, a fight he had longed for finally materialized.

May 6, 2017

Canelo officially challenges Golovin

After a short-lived return to light-middleweight, Canelo headed back to middleweight and throttled Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Cinco De Mayo weekend. Immediately afterward, Canelo got on the microphone and made it clear who was next.

“Golovkin! You are next, my friend.”

Golovkin emerged from the tunnel to an ovation from the crowd. The deal was done. September 16, 2017 would be the day fight fans would finally get the fight they had been longing for.

Little did they know, the saga had truly just begun.

September 16, 2017

Canelo and GGG battle to a controversial draw

Canelo and Golovkin’s first meeting was a high octane affair that ended in a controversial split draw. Many boxing writers had Golovkin edging Golovkin but the judges saw it differently. Specifically, Adalaide Byrd, who obscenely scored the fight in favor of Canelo 118-110. Don Trella saw it even at 114-114 and Dave Moretti had GGG ahead 115-113.

Golovkin applied pressure from the opening bell and didn’t give Canelo much room to breathe. Alvarez would start each round fast but GGG’s steady pace seemingly gave him the edge. Aside from Byrd’s absurd scorecard, Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez threatened to protest Canelo’s hand wraps for the “stacking” method that is outlawed in most states and considered “cheating” because stacking the wraps makes the fists harder.

It was obvious this fight was heading to an immediate rematch.

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March 5, 2018

Canelo tests positive for clenbuterol, rematch canceled

A rematch was set for May 5, 2018, as both sides began to criticize the other for the previous fight. Things got dicey in a hurry but on March 5, everything changed. Alvarez tested positive for the banned substance “clenbuterol” which his team claims came from “tainted meat.” The positive drug test caused the rematch to be canceled and the rivalry heightened between the two fighters.

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May 5, 2018

Golovkin takes his frustrations out on Martirosyan

With the Nevada State Athletic Commission temporarily suspending Canelo for two positive drug tests, Golovkin needed a new opponent. Vanes Martirosyan stepped up to the challenge and was promptly dispatched of in just two rounds by Golovkin. Despite the fight being a gross mismatch, Golovkin-Martirosyan averaged just shy of 1.3 million viewers and ended up being the most-watched boxing match on cable television in 2018.

September 15, 2018

Canelo barely edges Golovkin in rematch 

After serving his suspension, Canelo signed on the dotted line for a rematch with Golovkin set for Mexican Independence Day weekend in Las Vegas. The tension was thick as the two sides traded barbs all the way up until they entered the ring.

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Surprisingly, Canelo was the aggressor in the rematch and took the fight to Golovkin. It was yet another closely contested battle between two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. But Canelo squeezed out a narrow majority decision to take Golovkin’s WBA (Super), WBC and IBF middleweight titles, and acquired The Ring championship in the process. But, again, there was a healthy contingency of fans and writers who had Golovkin winning. It felt like a third fight was all but certain.

October 17, 2018

Canelo signs with DAZN

In a stunning move, DAZN announced that it had signed Canelo to a five-year, $365 million deal. Canelo immediately announced a move to super-middleweight, where he challenged Rocky Fielding in his first fight under the DAZN banner.

December 15, 2018

Canelo throttles Fielding in DAZN debut

Canelo faced the overmatched Fielding at Madison Square Garden and dropped him four times on his way to a third-round TKO. Although he moved to super-middleweight, there was an expectation that Canelo would move back down to middleweight and secure a third fight with Golovkin.

January 17, 2019

Canelo pivots away from GGG trilogy

At the top of the year, Golden Boy Promotions sought a third fight with Golovkin for Canelo. But GBP president Eric Gomez took to social media to inform the fans that he felt GGG didn’t want the fight. A middleweight unification fight with Daniel Jacobs was set up instead, much to the chagrin of Golovkin and boxing fans.

March 8, 2019

GGG follows Canelo to DAZN

Knowing that he needed to stay close to Canelo in order to avoid the politics of boxing networks and promotions, Golovkin also signed a deal with DAZN for three years, worth $100 million. One of the terms in the deal was that Golovkin would get a third fight with Canelo. Golovkin announced his first fight on the deal would be against Steve Rolls in the summer and it appeared that a third fight with Canelo would surface soon after.

That wouldn’t be the case.

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October 5, 2019

Golovkin struggles against Derevyanchenko

DAZN tried to put the rubber match together but it just wasn’t meant to be. Canelo went on to defeat Daniel Jacobs while Golovkin thumped Steve Rolls. Talks of a third fight didn’t get far and GGG opted to face previously unbeaten Sergiy Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden.

A well-placed body shot in the third round clearly hurt Golovkin, who eventually recovered and narrowly escaped with a victory. But because of how he looked at 37 years of age, there were rumblings that the boogeyman of boxing was no more.

March 2020

COVID throws a monkey wrench in Canelo-GGG 3 plans

Golovkin assumed that he’d get a third fight with Canelo when he signed to DAZN but Canelo initially balked at that assumption. But as a deal was being hammered out for the two fighters to complete their trilogy, the COVID-19 pandemic shut the sporting world down and the future of the fight was in doubt.

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November 6, 2020

Canelo becomes promotional free agent

Further hampering a potential trilogy was Canelo’s surprising lawsuit as he pursued free agency. Seemingly unhappy with Golden Boy Promotions, Canelo entered a lengthy legal battle that ended with him severing ties with GBP and DAZN. This left a potential third fight with Golovkin in doubt as the prevailing thought was that Canelo would compete for another promotion. However, Canelo simply wanted to break free from Oscar De La Hoya’s promotion and strike out on his own just as Floyd Mayweather did at the height of his career.

Canelo would sign a joint deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and enter a new deal with DAZN. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as Canelo-GGG 3 was still a possibility.

December 18 & 19, 2020

Canelo and GGG fight a day apart

Canelo began his pursuit to become the undisputed super-middleweight when he returned to the ring for the first time since the pandemic when he challenged Callum Smith for the WBA (Super) super-middleweight championship in Texas. Golovkin defended his IBF middleweight title against Kamil Szeremeta a day earlier in Florida.

Both would win in decisive fashion and the position of their fights a day apart left many to believe that the trilogy fight would be next. But Canelo had other plans.

November 6, 2021

Canelo becomes undisputed champion in under 12 months

With Golovkin inactive, Canelo went on a fighting spree with four fights in 11 months. After beating Smith, Canelo returned to defend his newly acquired WBC 168-pound title against Avni Yildirim in February and then rolled over Billy Joe Saunders in May to add the WBO title. But in order to become undisputed, Canelo would have to leave Matchroom and enter a one-fight deal with Premier Boxing Champions to face the IBF champion, Caleb Plant.

He would do just that and score an 11th-round TKO to become the undisputed champion in less than a year.

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Golovkin merely watched on the sideline as Canelo hunted down the 168-pound champions. He was in a dispute with DAZN over the expectation that he would be fighting Canelo and refused to move forward until there was some clarity to the situation.

It would get sorted and Golovkin was set to face Ryoto Murata in December. Unfortunately, COVID restrictions in Japan would cause the fight to be postponed until April.

February 2022

Canelo agrees to two-fight deal with Matchroom, GGG trilogy

After dispatching of Caleb Plant, Canelo had two options on the table. He could either sign a deal with Premier Boxing Champions to reportedly face Jermall Charlo, David Benavidez, or Errol Spence Jr., or he could join forces again with Matchroom Boxing and go after Dmitry Bivol’s light-heavyweight title in May. He would then follow that with the long-awaited third fight with Golovkin.

Canelo opted for the latter and said that the fans are the ones who deserve a third fight with Golovkin.

All both had to do with take care of business in their respective fights: Golovkin needed to get past Ryoto Murata while Canelo would have to emerge victorious against Bivol.

April 9, 2022

Golovkin stops Murata to set up Canelo trilogy

A day after his 40th birthday, Golovkin ended his 16-month hiatus and scored a 9th-round TKO against Ryoto Murata in a thrilling battle to become the unified middleweight champion. More importantly, Golovkin did his part to secure a third fight with Canelo. Although older, Golovkin still believes he has what it takes to pick up the win he felt he was robbed of on two occasions.

May 7, 2022

Canelo to face Bivol for light-heavyweight championship

To be determined…