Canelo Alvarez emerged the winner on points in a thrilling middleweight title fight inside a capacity T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, inflicting the first defeat on Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin in a 12-year-career. GARY LEMKE reports.
The bout, fought at a furious pace and which left both warriors cut and bruised, was decided on a split points decision after 12 rounds, the judges’ scorecards reading 114-114, 115-113, 115-113. The final round was awarded to Canelo on two judges’ cards and had they gone with GGG, the decision would have been a draw to match their first encounter almost a year ago to the day.
Canelo, whose only defeat in 53 fights came at the hands of Floyd Mayweather in 2013, had served a six-month drugs ban in the past year, testing positive for six months after eating what he argued was ‘contaminated meat’ in February.
Betting leading into the rematch had Golovkin the slightest of favourites, after appearing to come off on the worse side of the scorecards in that draw last September. Another draw had been offered at odds of 16-1 and how close they came to repeating that.
Canelo this time round looked far better than he did a year ago. He controlled the centre of the ring for large parts of the contest and his big, roundhouse left hooks and clubbing overhand rights looked flashier than Golovkin’s straighter, down the middle punching.
There were no knockdowns in the fight and neither boxer looked like going down, despite absorbing some hammer blows, a testimony to both their great chins as well as superb conditioning.
The fact that the contest was held on Mexican Independence Day and that the crowd was largely in the corner of Canelo might have had an influence on the judges as the noise factor and reaction to punches – whether they land cleanly or not – is always something that can affect the scoring.
Afterwards, Golovkin walked back to his dressingroom, bleeding above his right eye, bruised on both cheeks, without performing the customary in-ring interview. His Mexican opponent however, also with a bad cut on the eyelid of his left eye, soaked up the attention and left the door open for a third fight.
Should that go ahead – and it would promise to be yet another thriller between two middleweights who are championship warriors – surely this time Canelo would be a stronger favourite. The Kazakh is 36-years-old and has been taken the distance in his last four fights, having stopped 33 of his previous 36 opponents, so perhaps he has lost his edge in punching power.
GGG is still a formidable fighter, but was breathing heavily between rounds, and looked to be chasing the fight after Canelo had seemingly punched his way into a points lead after eight rounds. The Kazakh, who was putting three middleweight belts on the line, the WBA, WBC and WBO versions, finished strongly but ultimately things were decided in that 12th round, another close one, which two of the judges scored to Canelo.
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