By Jason Gonzalez at ringside
After a questionable decision in their first epic encounter, a canceled rematch seven months later, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin had a major axe to grind. The two top middleweights in the world, finally gave it a second go.
The highly anticipated rematch was a grudge match that may not have exceeded expectations, but still a decent scrap nonetheless. Canelo captured the WBC, WBA, and Ring middleweight title via a majority decision by scores of 115-113 twice [Dave Moretti & Steve Weisfeld] at the T-Mobile Arena before a sellout crowd of 21,965. Judge Glen Feldman ruled it a draw at 114-114.
Maxboxing had it 115-113 for Golovkin.
With the victory, Canelo gave Golovkin his first “L”, all while keeping his promoter’s [Bernard Hopkins] historic streak of 20 title defenses in the middleweight division intact. Heading into last Saturday night, Golovkin had been the longest active title holder. He had been a champion since 2010.
“That was a great fight, but in the end, it was a victory for Mexico,” Canelo said. “And again, it was an opportunity, and I want to shout out to my opponent, the best in the sport of boxing. I am a great fighter, and I showed it tonight. If the people want another round, I’ll do it again. But for right now, I will enjoy time with my family.”
During the build up to their second encounter, the 36-year-old Golovkin, now 38-1-1, (34) suggested that Alvarez had cheated in their first bout, and was probably doing so in the rematch; that is until he was caught.
Canelo, 28, was infuriated by the comments that his rival made. Canelo, who has always maintained his innocence, denied any intentional wrong doing. He claimed that the positive results were caused by eating contaminated meat in Mexico.
The nod doesn’t just give Canelo his 50th professional win, but he regains the title he once vacated. Canelo weathered an early and late storm by Golovkin.
“I’m not going to say who won tonight, because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges,” Golovkin said, who was cut over his right eye. “I thought it was a very good fight for the fans, and very exciting. I thought I fought better than he did.” In regards to having a trilogy with Canelo, the native of Kazakhstan replied, “Under the right conditions, yes.”
Golovkin opened up the contest jabbing against the lesser chiseled Canelo. Golovkin maintained his distance, ultimately winning the round by utilizing ring generalship. Canelo began to throw more punches in the second round. He took more chances, and pressured Golovkin, thus moving him back, and forcing him to back pedal. Canelo was able to get under Golovkin’s jab and countered with a few left hooks of his own up top, which was then followed by a right hand to Golovkin’s grill.
“No surprises, we knew this was going to be a war,” Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer would say. “Canelo was very resilient. We had a great fight, the one we expected the first time around. I had it close going into the 12th round. We had good judges who saw it from different angles. I can’t complain about the decision, but its close enough to warrant a third fight. Canelo fought a great fight, congratulations.”
Canelo maintained consistency offensively in the second. The third frame looked like a carbon copy of the previous round. By the fourth round, Golovkin appeared to have already been fighting with some sort of urgency. Golovkin’s potent jab as well as his short right uppercut found a home on Canelo’s chin. Although Canelo wasn’t affected by the heavy artillery, he did manage to miss a lot of shots in that round.
Statistically, the bout was extremely close in terms of punches that landed cleanly. Although Golovkin managed to outland Canelo in 8 out of the 12 rounds, Canelo scored at a 33% rate, in comparison to Golovkin’s 27%.
Another classic example in which the winner lands more shots, but throws a lot less.
A year ago to the date [Mexican Independence Day Weekend], both Canelo and Golovkin engaged in a terrific battle that was overshadowed by a horrendous scorecard rendered by judge Adalaide Byrd. Byrd had Canelo winning 10 out of the 12 rounds [118-110]. The other two officials were split; Dave Moretti had Golovkin winning by two points at 115-113, while Don Trella had it a draw at 114-114. To say that was controversial was an understatement.
In the subsequent months to follow, both Canelo and Golovkin agreed to meet again in the ring. However, in February it was revealed that Canelo had twice tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol. The results that were ascertained from the voluntary anti-doping association [VADA], prompted the Nevada State Athletic Commission to suspend Canelo for six months, which ultimately postponed the fight in May.
Golovkin continued to use what was working for him in the fifth round. He popped Canelo with his jab, forcing his counterpart to stay on the outside. Canelo would look to press the action, managing to land an overhand right, that Golovkin shook off. In the sixth round the roles reversed.
Canelo backed Golovkin up, while scoring down low against Golovkin. By this juncture the pace had slowed down substantially. Both fighters were visibly tired. The sixth round was indeed a tough one to score. But you weren’t wrong if you gave to Canelo.
With a lot of damage control to do, Canelo, a counterpuncher by nature, applied effective aggression. In the seventh round both fighters traded shots, but it was Canelo that made a lasting impression with his body shots. Just like the previous three minutes, the stanza was another close round to score, but a late rally by Canelo earned him the frame.
It was almost astonishing to see the once stalking Golovkin retreating as much as he did. This is a possible indicator that Golovkin may be on a decline.
But just when it seemed that Canelo was set to take over the contest, Golovkin dug deep. The jab combined with body shots prompted Canelo to back pedal and fight off of the ropes. There was a sufficient amount of fireworks in the eighth, ninth, and tenth round. Although the rounds may have been close, it seemed that Golovkin had done enough to sweep the three rounds.
Without question the fight was up for grabs. Both fighters were looking winded, and it seemed that Golovkin looked the worse of the two. The brave Canelo, who was sporting a bad laceration, shook off a pair hard right hands to the head by Golovkin, and avoided getting knocked down to win the 11th round.
“I’ll be honest with you, when I heard that the first card was scored a draw, I said what fight were they [judges] watching,” said Eddy Reynoso, the head trainer of Canelo. “But then again, this is Las Vegas, and anything can happen in Las Vegas. When you look closely at the work that Canelo was doing it’s impossible to not see Canelo winning this fight. Canelo gave him a whupping.”
In the 12th and final round, both fighters knew that whoever would win it, would ultimately win the contest. Sticking with what was working for him, Golovkin went to the left jab and right uppercut that Canelo had no answer for, due to his lack of head movement. The press row consensus was that Golovkin won the frame, which should have given him the contest.
But here is where the confusion comes in. Judges Moretti and Weisfeld scored the 12th round for Canelo. Had they scored it for Golovkin, the bout would have been a draw.
Judging by how complimentary both fighters were of each other, as well as hearing the exchange of kind words between the fighters and the opposing trainers, not to mention witnessing Canelo and Golovkin embrace after it was said and done, you can say that the beef has been squashed.
As far as the future is concerned for both fighters moving forward, with respect to the other top fighters at 160 pounds, but neither a fight with Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, and Billy Joe Saunders generate the demand nor revenue of a third fight between Canelo and Golovkin. A trilogy is a forgone conclusion. Assuming that all goes well, you can expect to see both of them lock horns again next year for Mexican Independence Day Weekend in Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena.
WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia "cooked” Brandon Cook within 3 rounds. The fight was stopped at 1:03 mark. Munguia, of Tijuana, Mexico, now 31-0, (26) stopped Cook, of Toronto, Canada now 20-2, (13) in the co-feature bout of the evening.
Munguia opened up the contest by keeping his distance but yet pressing the action against the overmatched foe. Munguia pummeled Cook, prompting referee Tony Weeks to call a halt to the bout to save the visibly wounded opponent.
“This was a part of my development,” Munguia said. “I was not as focused in my last fight. But this time I came more relaxed. I was looking for the knockout too much. But now you’ve seen the results of my work. With each fight you will see me getting better. I just want to show that I can get better and that I want to face the best, so I can show that I am the best.”
It isn’t likely that we will see Munguia in a unification bout with either Jarrett Hurd or Jermell Charlo anytime soon. Munguia needs more seasoning, and by being affiliated with Golden Boy Promotions, doing business with Al Haymon and PBC isn’t a priority.
Former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux, 40-4, (34) starched Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in the opening round. The knockout came via a picture-perfect left hook. Referee Russell Mora stopped the carnage, which was described as “sweet revenge” for Lemieux. Both men who were involved in a bitter feud. The Irish O’Sullivan’s, record has now fallen to 28-3, (20).
“I was very happy to win. I’m a happy middleweight. I felt great, I’m in superb shape. I always give you guys a great knockout, a great fight, I’m looking forward to doing it again,” said the native of Montreal. “Don’t mess with me. When O’Sullivan talked, I kept it in me. I bring it to the ring, I don’t disrespect my opponents, and I don’t trash talk. You can’t compare me now with how I was with Billy Joel Saunders . Saunders is an excellent technician, but I’m physically 100% in shape now. Canelo and Golovkin are two excellent fighters, I’m looking forward to fighting them both, it’s a 50-50 fight. I fought Golovkin at his peak; maybe Golovkin will fight Lemieux at his peak.”
A fight with either Canelo or Golovkin in the next 12 months isn’t realistic. Lemieux should look to fight once more before the year is over. He should look to get more rounds in.
“This was my lesson to him, to be humble. I’m tired of these world champions trash talking just to promote their fights,” said Lemieux. “I want to be able to teach my kids and the kids that follow me to be respectful, and to never call out a fighter and keep it professional. I hope he learns to be humble, or be humbled. I want the winner of tonight’s fight.”
The former consensus pound-for-pound fighter and three division champion, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez of Managua, Nicaragua returned to the squared circle for the first time since being knocked out by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Gonzalez knocked out Moises Fuentes in the opening bout of the pay-per-view telecast. Gonzalez pressured Fuentes, who ultimately succumbed to Gonzalez’s power. The stoppage came at the 1:44 mark of the fifth round. Gonzalez, 47-2, (39) started off quickly, sneaking several right hands in. Fuentes sustained a cut on his right eye in the second. Gonzalez was on the offensive. He pressured the native of Mexico, now 25-6-1, (14). Gonzalez also overwhelmed the taller fighter on the inside with hard combinations. A left hook that was then followed by a short right hand knocked Fuentes into next year.
“I’m very thankful for this opportunity. It’s a great to come back and be on the Canelo vs. Golovkin card. I can’t wait because I am a step closer to becoming a world champion,” said Gonzalez. “When he hit the floor, I got very worried for him and I panicked, and when he regained consciousness, I prayed for him and I told him that I hope god blesses him, his family, and his career. I asked for him to forgive me, because this is the job that we chose and that I didn’t mean to hurt him.”
Gonzalez may be done as an elite fighter. He would probably lose to Juan Estrada, Donnie Nietes, and Jerwin Ancajas.
In other noteworthy news, Canelo’s contract with HBO has expired. It will be interesting to see what will transpire moving forward.
Lastly, there was a protest outside of the T-Mobile Arena. People of Nicaraguan descent were boycotting Gonzalez’s fight. Apparently, Gonzalez has ties to the FSLN organization [The Sandinista National Liberation Front]. They are a political group in Nicaragua that have been accused of spreading communism and committing murder.