LAS VEGAS, Nevada, September 15, 2018 – Finally, we have a winner – but not an end to the discussion.
In a fight that took everyone’s breath away, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin fought 12 of the best rounds of boxing put together in 2018, a display of skill and desire with both fighters having their moments, and both men fully engaged as the crowd of 21,965 fans cheered every punch and move.
As the fight went to the scorecards, most observers believed Gennady Golovkin had closed out the fight strongly enough to win.
The judges disagreed. Judge Glenn Feldman scored the fight a draw, 114-114. Judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld scored it 115-113 for Alvarez, giving the Mexican superstar a majority decision and handing Golovkin his first professional loss. An emotional Alvarez and his team reacted with tears and shouts of joy. Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) wins the WBC, WBA, and IBO middleweight titles from Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs). The only remaining title belongs to Britain’s Billy Joe Saunders.
Alvarez: ‘A great victory for Mexico’
“That was a great fight, but in the end, it was a victory for Mexico,” said Alvarez, who is now the unified middleweight champion. “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.
“I’m very excited, I’m very emotional. I want to thank everyone who believed in me. Viva Mexico!” shouted Alvarez.
Alvarez said he looked for the knockout, but Golovkin was simply too strong for him to get there. “I’m satisfied with the victory, I’m satisfied how we did it today. We analyzed everything. This is a very important victory for me, this is a very important victory for my country. I know it will give pride to my country.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the knockout, but we walked away with the victory. All the work we did paid off in the ring.”
Alvarez thanked his team several times during his comments. “I said this time and the time before, I want to thank my trainers, Eddy and Chepo Reynoso. They took me to the highest levels of boxing. They are more than my trainers, they are my family.” Alvarez said Eddy Reynoso would ensure they would always keep learning and improving.
Golovkin: ‘A good fight for the fans’
Initially, a dejected, stoic Golovkin left the ring without immediate comment, followed by his team. He immediately received eight stitches over a five-centimeter cut over the right eye. From the dressing room, he issued a diplomatic comment. “I’m not going to say who won tonight because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges,” said a conciliatory Golovkin. “I thought it was a very good fight for the fans, and very exciting. I thought I fought better than he did.”
Both fighters adjusted their game plan for the rematch. Canelo Alvarez moved forward from the opening bell. Golovkin brought his jab out and threw more of them in the first round than the entire first fight. The jab won him the first round. As the pair warmed up, they began to test each other earlier, and more often.
The first hard punch of the fight was a left hook by Canelo one minute into the second round. Solid body work followed. He began to fight far more aggressively early than in the first fight and pressed forward, backing Golovkin up. Golovkin had trouble finding the target but stayed busy with the jab.
Then the heavy hands of both men came out to play. Body shots by both men, a smart upper cut by Canelo, a nice right hand by Golovkin. The pair stayed busy, and Golovkin continued to head hunt with the jab.
Remarkable resilience from both fighters
Both men showed a remarkable ability to absorb punches, to the point fans might not realize just how hard the pair were hitting each other. Both have knocked out opponents with the same punches, but neither Golovkin nor Alvarez were about to yield. Alvarez’s body work was much improved.
By the middle of the fight, the cards might have been even, but Alvarez was fighting his version of the fight. Golovkin needed to find a different gear. He began taking more chances, and it started working for him. The momentum began turning near the end of the seventh round. Golovkin put together his best rounds of the fight, with his best combinations of the fight up to this point. But he also appeared to be breathing hard and tiring.
By the ninth round, Golovkin found a second wind. The fans sensed both fighters wanted to try and end the fight on their own terms before they ran out of gas. The tenth round was the best round of the fight, and a Round of the Year candidate full of tension and excitement. Golovkin hurt Alvarez. He could not knock the Mexican out, but he took control of the fight neither had been able to do. The power shots kept flying. It seems Golovkin was fighting for his career legacy. Still, Alvarez refused to yield. He remained in the fight.
In the closing round, both Golovkin and Alvarez mustered every bit of energy they had left and borrowed more from the energy of the crowd. Who wanted it more? Golovkin won it on many boxing journalists’ cards, and the majority saw the fight going to Golovkin. But our cards don’t count. The two judges who scored the fight for Alvarez both gave him the final round, and it won him the fight.
Sanchez: ‘Close enough to warrant a third fight’
While the outcome was disappointing for those who felt the Kazakh champion had done enough to win, trainer Abel Sanchez didn’t quibble too much. “We had a great fight, the one we expected the first time around. I had it close going into the 12thround. We had good judges who saw it from different angles – I can’t complain about the decision, but it’s close enough to warrant a third fight.
“We have to congratulate Canelo,” said Sanchez. “Two guys fought a great fight. They gave it all in the ring. Canelo is the champion today. He deserves it, he fought a great fight. Hopefully we can do it again.”
Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler agreed “Everyone on the Triple G side thought he won, but we’re not going to argue with the decision. We thought he made it a more exciting fight this time, but we give both guys credit.”
Golovkin said he felt he was controlling the fight. “As a boxer, I will continue to do my job, to prove I am the best … I’m just a fighter, I’m doing my job. How to judge my performance is not my job. I’m doing my job inside the ring.”
“It was so close, I think it was the last round that made the difference,” said Sanchez. “We have to give credit to Canelo for what he did, not what we didn’t do.
“We’re disappointed but we can’t be damn hypocritical and criticize the judges every time we lose,” said Sanchez.
Will there be a rematch in 2019?
The inevitable question after an entertaining close fight at the highest levels of the sport: will there be a rematch? “Look, if the people want a third fight, we’ll do it again. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the moment with my people. And no doubt, we’ll do it again,” said Alvarez. Golovkin’s thoughts about a rematch? “Under the right conditions, yes … it would be great to have a third fight.”
What is certain is that Alvarez will now not be fighting before the end of 2018 as anticipated, due to a cut suffered over his left eye.
Wherever you come down on the score, everyone who paid for this fight whether a ticket, closed circuit or PPV got their money’s worth watching this tremendous display of boxing skill and determination. It was the kind of quality competition everyone in boxing can take pride in offering to the fans.
HBO Sports will replay Canelo vs. Golovkin on Saturday, September 22, at 10:05 p.m. ET/PT. The fight will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand, and its partners’ streaming platforms. Watch again and decide the outcome for yourself.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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