By Jason Gonzalez
Las Vegas, NV---The sport of boxing should have witnessed a hat trick on the night of September 16. For starters, supremacy in the middleweight division should have been established, but instead we had a hung jury. We should have seen boxing’s new pay-per-view attraction. However, we still don’t have a definitive answer to that question. We should have seen a great fight. Well, we did. But 1 for 3 is only acceptable in the sport of baseball. But instead it seems like we may have observed the first tussle of what will be assuming that nothing prevents it from happening is a trilogy between two elite fighters. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin of Kazakhstan fought to a split draw before a crowd of 22,358 at the T-Mobile arena.
The scorecards read 118-110 for Canelo, 115-113 for Golovkin, with the
last scored even at 114-114. Canelo, who fought gallantly, especially in the second half of the fight, missed the opportunity to snatch the WBA, WBC, and the IBF trinkets right from the palms of the sport’s most avoided fighter. Canelo, who appeared to have dug himself in a hole early on, fought with urgency late in an effort to tighten the scorecards.
Meanwhile Golovkin failed to pull the trigger in the middle portion of the fight. Canelo looked fatigued and there were moments in which Canelo looked like he was about to go.
Canelo-Golovkin was a tale of two fights. Golovkin was the aggressor in the first half, while Canelo turned up in the latter half. Maxboxing.com had it a draw. The contest saw many shifts in momentum. There were a lot of close rounds. Judge Adalaide Byrd’s scores of 118-110 (10 rounds to 2) is as inappropriate and as egregious of a scorecard the sport has seen in quite some time. Especially when you taking into consideration the magnitude of this fight, the enormity of the affair as a whole.
“It was a big drama show,” Golovkin said, who’s ledger changed to 37-0-1, (33). “The scoring is not my fault. I put pressure on him every round.”
The fight opened up with both fighters feeling each other out. Golovkin stalked Canelo, while Canelo countered effectively. Golovkin threw his jab in repetitive succession. It was a hard thudding jab. From its inception it seemed that Golovkin’s size and ability to cut off ring off on his counterpart created a major dilemma for Canelo.
But in the second round Canelo exhibited great defensive prowess, ultimately frustrating Golovkin. Canelo, 27, boxed beautifully the remainder of the way. The second round marked a big one for the fan favorite on Mexican Independence Day weekend. In the third frame Golovkin pressed the action hard, continued to cut the ring off, ultimately backing Canelo against the ropes. Canelo literally looked like a New York City bus, stopping at every corner. In the fourth round Canelo appeared gassed. The relentless pressure the 35-year-old Golovkin was applying may have forced Canelo to shift into higher gears much.Not to mention that Canelo may have been hurt from a body shot in the previous round.
“There wasn’t any power that surprised me,” Alvarez said, now 49-1-2, (34). “In the first rounds, I came out to see what he had. Then I was building from there. I think I won eight rounds. I felt that I won the fight.”
This marks the second draw in Canelo’s career. The bout with Golovkin was his biggest fight to date, not including his only defeat, which came at the hands of Floyd Mayweather. In lieu of Mayweather’s recent retirement, the “sweet science” is desperately looking for a new face to carry the sport’s mantle for years to come.
Unfortunately the spot still remains vacant. On the surface Canelo looked like a shoe-in had he gotten the win. But Golovkin had something else to say about that. Had Golovkin won, he would have also obtained all of the accolades of being an elite fighter, just probably not on the level of Canelo.
In the fifth round, Golovkin continued being the aggressor, while Canelo, in typical counter punching fashion, fought with his back to the ropes for a good portion of the round. Canelo did connect with some shots, but Golovkin kept coming forward. Canelo had a good 6th round. The seventh round saw a lot of back and forth action, thus making it a hard to claim a victor of the frame. In the eighth round Golovkin went back to doing what was working for him. That was applying pressure, pressure, and more pressure. Outside of Mayweather, Golovkin’s ring intelligence is unparalleled and unmatched.
“Of course, I want the rematch,” Golovkin said, who seemed to be okay with the verdict.
“No surprises,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer.” We knew going into this it would be a war.”
Canelo-Golovkin had been talked about happening for the last two years. Fight fans had been salivating for this matchup to come to fruition. Many thought that it wouldn’t have happened, because Canelo was deemed to have been afraid of Golovkin. All of that slander has officially dissipated. Any objective observer would tell you that Canelo did not fight Golovkin scared.
History always repeats itself. Does all of this trash talking ring a bell? It’s the same narrative that surrounded the build-up to the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. When the scrap finally materialized five years later, the talking ceased, it just so happened that the general public was disenchanted due to the anti-climactic conclusion of the bout. Yes, Mayweather-Pacquiao was awful, and it failed to live up to its billing, just like 99.9% of the time when it comes to all of “highly anticipated” matchups in boxing. Well Canelo-Golovkin was the exception to the rule, thus breaking that stigma. It wasn’t Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns, nor was it Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, because if that’s your prototype for what a great fight should be, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Great fights model a building crescendo. You have to let it marinate first, then see what unfolds, and low and behold a modern day boxing classic is produced.
Canelo-Golovkin was an excellent contest that paired the two best middleweights in the world against each other, producing a lot of excitement for fight fans worldwide. It was high quality stuff that could have only been manufactured by the crème de la crème of the division.
As the end drew near, Canelo got a second wind; he showed a lot of spunk. Canelo had a huge 9th and 10th round. Sensing that the fight was still up for grabs, both Canelo and Golovkin went for broke. The eleventh round was tough to score. At the end of the round Canelo landed a hard counter-right to the head of Golovkin that he simply shook off. The pace slowed down substantially in the 12th. Bother fighters appeared tired, while throwing wild shots, in some cases missing wildly.It seemed that Canelo had done enough to steal the last frame by outworking and outhustling Golovkin.
“I think I was superior in the ring,” Alvarez said. “I won at least seven or eight rounds. I was able to counterpunch and made Gennady wobble at least three times. If we fight again, it’s up to the people. I feel frustrated over my draw.”
Taking into account the massive commercial success of the fight, a rematch is inevitable. Promoter Oscar De La Hoya said that Golden Boy will exercise their rematch clause.
“Yes, of course. Obviously, yes. If the people want it, yes. He didn’t win. It was a draw,” Alvarez said, whose body language suggested that he was dejected by the outcome of the fight. “I always said I was going to be a step ahead of him. We’ll fight in the second one, but I’ll win.”
HBO will replay the bout next Saturday (9/23/17) at 10 p.m. ET/PT prior to the live telecast of the Jorge Linares-Luke Campbell bout.