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November 19, 2018

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Words and fists: Alvarez and Golovkin bring real animosity into their T-Mobile rematch

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John Locher / AP

This Sept. 17, 2017, file photo shows Canelo Alvarez, right, fighting Gennady Golovkin during a middleweight title fight in Las Vegas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin were mostly cordial heading into their fight last September. The two were sparring partners for a short period in 2011 and appeared to remain friendly throughout the promotional period preceding their bout. They then fought 12 rounds to a controversial split-draw decision, and everything changed. The feeling on both sides seems different as Golovkin and Alvarez head into a Sept. 15 rematch at T-Mobile Arena. The fighters and their camps have traded barbs and verbally sparred through the media. After everything that has transpired during the past year, the animosity is real.

The result of the first fight started the discord, leaving Golovkin feeling cheated. The WBA, WBC and IBO middleweight champion battered Alvarez for the majority of the bout, which was reflected by the post-fight statistics. CompuBox calculated Golovkin outpunching Alvarez 218-169, and landing more shots in all but two rounds.

The judges disagreed, however. Dave Moretti gave the fight to Golovkin 115-113, Don Trella had it a 114-114 draw and Adalaide Byrd scored Alvarez winning 118-110. The result caused an uproar in the sport as most believed Golovkin was the rightful victor.

Tensions intensified after an immediate rematch scheduled for May 5 fell through when Alvarez tested positive for a banned substance, clenbuterol. Alvarez said contaminated meat in his native Mexico was the culprit for the failed test, but Golovkin didn’t buy it.

Since then, the two have clashed about virtually everything — from their splits of the money to the gloves Alvarez can wear. Here’s a journey through their most venomous quotes leading up to the fight.

• “I definitely think he ran a lot more than we thought he was going to. I talked to [Michael] Jordan about it, and asked if he could make us some shoes so that we can go a bit faster and are able to catch him. I hope for the fans that he puts on the fight that he said he was going to the first time.” — Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez to BoxingScene.com, describing Alvarez’s strategy in the first fight

• “It’s one thing to be coming forward like a donkey, and it’s another thing to be moving, dodging punches, counterpunching and even staying on the ropes without him hitting you. I hope he goes back to his house and realizes what I’ve been saying about him: That he’s a dumbass.” — Alvarez during a conference call, responding to Sanchez and Golovkin’s claims that he ran during the first fight

• “That man talks, talks and talks, but that’s what he likes to do, and we have to let him talk. In my town, they say that donkeys speak so that everyone knows they exist, because if they didn’t speak then nobody would know, so here we are. Abel talks so everyone knows he’s there.” —Alvarez trainer Eddie Reynoso to ESPN Deportes, on Sanchez

• “I am really thankful that Abel [Sanchez] is not bringing in any illegal and banned substances into my fighting career and hasn’t taught me something which was not allowed in boxing. I’m really thankful for him of being such a great coach.” — Golovkin on a conference call, taking a shot at Alvarez for his failed drug test

• “This fight is personal because of all that’s been said, and it will be difficult to regain the respect that we once had. The statements that have been made about me have given me more motivation to train harder. I have watched the first fight several times. … I hurt him in the first fight, and I’m going to hurt him even more in the second fight.” — Alvarez at an open workout in August

• “I want to punish him. I want to have a fight and punish him for all the bad things that he and his team have done, so basically to size him down and to put him and his team in their place.” — Golovkin on a conference call

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.