Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez have chalked up a combined total of 86 career victories en route to Saturday’s superfight in Las Vegas.
The WBC, WBA, IBF, IBO and lineal middleweight titles are on the line at the T-Mobile Arena, along with a chance for the winner to cement their claim to greatness.
But what of the men they have left in their wake on the path to this meeting and what can those vanquished opponents tell us about how a highly anticipated battle might unfold?
Matthew Hatton, former European welterweight champion and brother of British fighting icon Ricky, stepped up in weight to contest the vacant WBC light-middleweight title against a 20-year-old Alvarez in March 2011.
The Mexican, already tipped for the pinnacle of the sport, won a shutout decision in Anaheim but could not find the knockout against Hatton, who was never stopped in a 52-fight career.
“I’d sparred bigger guys and I’d fought bigger guys in the past but the strength of him was completely on another level. He’s physically so strong,” Hatton told Omnisport.
“He was a very hard puncher but it’s more the physical strength that I struggled to deal with.”
Hatton has little doubt Alvarez will be able to physically hold his own against seasoned middleweight Golovkin and recognises a far more rounded fighter than the young tearaway he ran into.
“He’s got very good shot selection; he doesn’t waste many punches. In all the punches he’s very heavy handed and carries power,” Hatton said of Alvarez, who is on a seven-fight winning streak since Floyd Mayweather Jr handed him his solitary loss four years ago.
“His boxing skills have improved as he’s gone on. Maybe the defeat to Mayweather taught him a little bit of a lesson there.
“A lot of emphasis in this fight has been placed on the punch power of both guys. I think they’re really well matched but I think Alvarez does have slightly better skills.”
The fight has been broken down as a battle between Alvarez’s tighter defence and counter-punching skills and Golovkin’s bludgeoning power, which has given him 33 knockouts in a 37-fight professional record.
Hatton managed to ride out the storm against Alvarez but is keen to see how Golovkin reacts if the 35-year-old comes under fire from the younger man’s much-vaunted body attack.
“He never significantly hurt me but the punches he was hurting me with were downstairs,” Hatton said. “That left hook to the body is a great weapon and that’s what’s going to be so interesting in this fight.
“Golovkin has always had things totally his own way. He’s never had anyone strong enough or good enough to get up close and bang away at his body. It’s going to be very interesting to see how he copes with that because I’m pretty certain that’s what Canelo’s team will try and employ.”
Hatton feels slow footwork represents a weakness in Alvarez’s make-up, although supreme reflexes and upper body movement make up the defensive shortfall.
“Having fancied Golovkin all along, I think the difference between the two has been narrowing and narrowing and Alvarez has just gone past him now,” the Englishman said.
“Kell Brook exposed a few weaknesses in him. Also, in the Danny Jacobs fight, he showed some signs of weakness. I fancy Canelo quite strongly now.”