Hagler’s age, slowing down gave Leonard his chance; will GGG’s age, slowing down give Canelo his chance?

Timing is everything in boxing: the timing of a punch, the timing of a knockout blow and the timing of the fight itself. It’s no secret how welterweight great Sugar Ray Leonard waited, and waited and waited for the opportune time to make the move up to middleweight and challenge the fearsome Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

Age proved to be a big factor in the 1987 battle – Hagler’s age, that and the wear and tear the Brockton southpaw had picked up during his long title reign. Now, as we approach the middleweight Super Fight many have compared to Leonard-Hagler, some astute fans are asking themselves, has Mexican warrior Canelo Alvarez, in his prime at age 27, waited until the perfect time to move up and challenge middleweight king Gennady Golovkin? Will age prove to be a big factor in this fight?

GGG is 35, almost ten years older than Canelo, and there are plenty of people who feel they have seen age and its effect on the body, on the reflexes and, yes, on the timing of a fighter take something from the undefeated champ. Hagler, aside from fighting, for a considerable portion of the Leonard fight, a dumb fight – unfathomably diverting from his customary southpaw stance in the bout’s first quarter – also suffered due to his inability to ‘get off,’ to punch venomously and accurately when he saw an opening.

Father Time played a considerable part in the Super Fight from three decades ago, there is no question. But will the old guy with the long white beard show up during September 16th’s fight? If so, GGG will be in trouble. If not – as Triple-G’s trainer Abel Sanchez insists will be the case – then maybe Canelo will be the fighter who finds himself in trouble; especially if he is counting on GGG having slowed, or having lost a step or two.

But Sanchez balks at the very notion of his fighter having aged:

“It seems funny to me that this guy has the highest knockout ratio in middleweight history, he’s undefeated, he’s never been hurt, never been down, but yet he’s getting old,” Sanchez told On The Ropes.

“People are funny, but I guess they hold him on such a high pedestal that everything he does has to be perfect. Danny Jacobs was the second best middleweight in the world, Kell Brook was an undefeated welterweight champion who I knew was going to be difficult from the beginning because he was fast. These guys are quality guys, so it’s funny that Gennady gets those comments made about him.”

It’s tough to argue with Abel’s thinking; when have we ever seen GGG in trouble or hurt in any fight? Then again, the same could have been said, in fact was said, of Hagler going into the Leonard fight. People forgot his war, his punishing war, with John “The Beast” Mugabi (the fight that convinced Ray he could beat Hagler – did Canelo get a similar feeling of assured victory after watching GGG labour against Jacobs?). We must not forget the punches GGG took in his last two fights, against Kell Brook and Danny Jacobs; the Brook fight especially.

Maybe, just maybe, Canelo has got the timing of this fight spot on.