Affirmed and Alydar finished 1-2 in each of the three Triple Crown races in 1978, with Affirmed winning the Kentucky Derby by a length-and-a-half, the Preakness by a neck and the Belmont by a head in three of the greatest horse races ever.
Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin were on their way to that kind of rivalry. They met in an epic battle in 2017 that was ruled a draw, though many believed Golovkin won. In the rematch in 2018, Alvarez improved dramatically and won a fair decision.
The third one between them hasn’t happened, and its pretty obvious where the blame belongs for that.
Since last they met, Golovkin has fought Steve Rolls, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Kamil Szeremta and on Dec. 28, will face Ryoto Murata. It’s not exactly a Murderers' Row.
Contrast that with Alvarez, who opened the post-GGG Era with a gimme victory over Rocky Fielding. After that, he’s faced Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev, Callum Smith, Avni Yildirim, Billy Joe Saunders and, on Saturday, Caleb Plant.
Alvarez walked down Plant throughout the fight and stopped him early in the 11th round Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to become the first undisputed super middleweight champion in the division’s history.
He also became just the sixth undisputed champion in the four-belt era, following Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, Terence Crawford, Oleksandr Usyk and Josh Taylor. Alvarez became the first Latino to hold all four belts.
He’s dared to be great, he’s taken risky fights and he’s set himself apart from the rest. He’s clearly the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world now, and Golovkin is, honestly, nowhere in the conversation.
For some reason, he’s chosen to feast on creampuffs for the most part since last meeting Alvarez.
And that’s why he doesn’t deserve the next shot at Alvarez.
The fight with Plant was the brainchild of Alvarez trainer/manager Eddy Reynoso. And to get it done and become the undisputed champion, Alvarez had to fight three world champions, all of whom were undefeated at the time he met them.
After Alvarez racked up impressive wins over three men with a combined 78-0 record, there is no way Golovkin should be rewarded for fighting Moe, Larry & Curly in the interim.
The obvious choice is IBF-WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev, assuming he is victorious in his Dec. 17 fight with Marcus Browne.
Beterbiev is 16-0 with 16 knockouts and has the rare kind of power that gets people excited. Alvarez is a vastly superior boxer, but Beterbiev is bigger and more powerful, so it makes it a compelling fight.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the script that played out in 2017 when Alvarez and Golovkin first met at middleweight. Now, Golovkin has nothing to offer except the memories of those two bouts. He’s done nothing since fighting Alvarez the last time to make anyone want to see him again.
Fighting total stiffs isn’t the way to go, but that’s what he has chosen.
Alvarez likely would be a heavy favorite over Beterbiev, but there would be the “yeah, but” from those in the media who have closely followed Beterbiev’s career. He’s a killer and doesn’t come to dance.
If Alvarez wins that, he’d then be able to chase WBA champion Dmitry Bivol and WBO champion Joe Smith in an attempt to unify again. Bivol is the better boxer of those two, Smith the bigger puncher, so line them up in whatever order.
It would be another bit of history and would serve to help Alvarez boost his all-time rating.
Alvarez secured his place in history Saturday — if that even needed to be done — with a workmanlike performance against Plant. Plant fought gamely, and effectively in spurts.
But like most, he was done in by Alvarez’s body work. Alvarez fiercely attacks the body and wears a fighter down before going up top for the kill.
He dug hooks to the rib cage of Plant all night, and after awhile, he could take no more. As he brought his hands down, Alvarez brought his punches up and it was shortly thereafter a wrap.
Two thunderous left hooks dropped Plant the first time. He got up wobbly, and Alvarez beat him back down, cracking him with a pair of right hands. Referee Russell Mora jumped in to halt the carnage.
Golovkin remains a popular fighter and a third bout with Alvarez would do business. At this stage, though, Alvarez is so dialed in he’ll do business with whomever he fights.
This pursuit of the super middleweight belts was fun. Let’s see it again, particularly given there are some attractive opponents at 175.
Golovkin has forfeited his right to a third fight with Alvarez by choosing such an easy path for himself.
An Alvarez-Beterbiev fight would get the juices flowing and would begin yet another improbable pursuit of history.