By John J. Raspanti
There were some who didn’t want a rematch. The steroid scandal that delayed the sequel, caused many boxing fans to throw up their hands and say enough. The cynics, including yours truly, figured a second fight would happen.
Some complained about the first fight, but to me, it was intense, competitive and close. The decision was the problem.
Canelo Alvarez looked to counter-while Gennady Golovkin jabbed and stalked. Surprisingly, Golovkin, the aggressor the entire evening, looked nervous and tentative in the early going. He didn’t find himself until near the end of the third round.
Alvarez found success to the body, while Golovkin stuck out his jab on a consistent basis.
Golovkin was in full stalk mode in the middle rounds. He pressured Alvarez relentlessly. Golovkin landed a big right in round six, but ate a counter hook. He popped Alvarez with jabs and hooks. Golovkin appeared to be in control until Alvarez dug deep and found his second wind. He rattled Golovkin with a solid right hook in round 10. He was fighting like a man who sensed he was behind on the scorecards.
Round 12 featured more pugilistic intensity. Alvarez tagged Golovkin with a sharp uppercut. He scored with a combination. Golovkin fired back, landing a number of shots.
Judge Don Trella scored the fight 114-114, and Dave Moretti had it 115-113 for Golovkin - the same as Maxboxing.com. Even a 115-113 tally for Alvarez seems somewhat reasonable based on how close some of the rounds were.
The 118-110 score for Alvarez, submitted by veteran Las Vegas judge Adalaide Byrd, drew catcalls and howls from the fans in attendance and watching around the world.
How she could “see” Alvarez winning 10 out of the 12 rounds is unfathomable.
The fight was just another example of boxing shooting itself in the foot. Let’s take the most anticipated fight in the last couple of years and spoil it. A sequel had to happen, even if Byrd’s hideous judging had ruined it.
Two months before the second fight, came the announcement heard around the boxing world. Alvarez had tested positive for the banned drug clenbuterol, which builds stamina and performance. Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions blamed meat contamination for the dirty test.
Golovkin ridiculed him.
“Again with Mexican meat? Come on," Golovkin said in an article by Dan Rafael of ESPN. "I told you, it’s not Mexican meat. This is Canelo. This is his team. This is his promotion. Canelo is cheating.”
Alvarez grew angrier as the second fight date grew closer. He was tired of the insults and accusations being thrown at him by Golovkin and his trainer, Abel Sanchez.
"The little respect I had for [Golovkin] was lost,” said Alvarez. “He crossed the line with so much of what they said, this will help me get everything out in the fight.”
The irony is that they had been friends once. Sparred with each other. Golovkin tried to help the much younger Alvarez. From all the reports, they got along well.
That was almost eight years ago. By fight night, they were like a couple going through a nasty divorce. It was personal. The pressure was intense. Alvarez’s reputation was on the line. He had been mocked on social media for months. In a sense, the second fight with Golovkin was his personal Waterloo.
Golovkin had something to prove as well. He felt he had done enough to win the first fight. Many agreed.
Could he do it again? After a feeling out opening stanza, the fighters got going in round two. Immediately most noticed a difference. Sequels can be carbon copies of the original. That’s why most of them fail. Been there, done that.
What had changed?
The script had been flipped. This time, instead of boxing and looking to counter, Alvarez stalked Golovkin. He feinted and landed some hellacious shots to the body. For the first time in his professional career, Golovkin was forced to take a backward step. His educated jab scored points. Alvarez forced the action and let em rip. He appeared to be in control with a slight lead on the scorecards. Golovkin, eight years older than Alvarez, looked it. He was tired.
But then, around round eight, Golovkin did what Alvarez had done in the first fight. He dug deep. He started to fire more punches. He found a home for his uppercut, rattling Alvarez a few times.
As the crowd roared, Alvarez battled back-landing hooks to the head. By the 12th and final round, both fighters were bloody. They stood their ground and fired. It was give and take with everything riding on who landed last. Most of the rounds had been close and hard to score.
The decision went to Alvarez by a grand total of two points. I would have preferred another draw. The fight had been that close. But it was the drama that made the bout so damn compelling. After the match, even a casual boxing fan I know was heard to mutter, “Wow, if every fight was like that, I’d watch all the time.”
The Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin rematch is 2018 Maxboxing “Fight of the Year.”