LAS VEGAS — After 24 rounds, there is precious little that separates Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. But unlike their first bout a year earlier, the difference 12th round scoring resulted in a victor as Canelo rallied from a shaky opening to take the round and a narrow majority decision win to capture the WBC middleweight title.
Canelo surprised his naysayers and apparently Golovkin by standing his ground and walking his bigger foe down. This allowed the challenger to jump out to an early lead by working the body and landing eye-catching left hooks. Golovkin sought to keep it an outside battle and scored heavily with his thudding jab and sporadically got his right cross to split Canelo’s guard.
While Canelo’s rounds were more pronounced due to his flashy combinations, Golovkin took rounds when the pace was more measured. Damage was evident on both — Golovkin had a small mouse under the right eye and Canelo was leaking blood from a cut above his left eye.
The flow of the fight changed in the seventh when Golovkin began to uncork his right hand. He briefly stunned Alvarez in the last 30 seconds round and continued that momentum in rounds eight and nine. But Alvarez was never far behind and offset Golovkin’s head-snapping jabs with hard hooks downstairs.
The 10th was a gut-check round for both men. Alvarez appeared hurt early from a right hand and Golovkin pounced with a series of hooks on the ropes. But Alvarez showed his mettle and fired back with an overhand right of his own that tempered Golovkin’s aggression. Golovkin continued to punish Canelo with hooks in the 11th, taking both rounds on all the judge’s scorecards.
Early on, the 12th appeared to be more of the same with Golovkin landing a three-punch combination in the opening seconds. But Alvarez continued his workman-like push forward and landing to the body when Golovkin attempted to rest. With both men tired, it was Canelo urging Golovkin to come forward and they exchanged several times at the bell with no clear advantage for either.
Unbeknownst to either fighter, it was the 12th round that decided the fight. Judge Glenn Feldman gave the last four rounds to GGG, creating a 114-114 draw on his card. But he was overruled by Steve Weisfeld and Dave Moretti, who both preferred Canelo’s aggression and body shots to give him the round and the two winning scores of 115-113.
“That was a great fight,” Alvarez said, who let out a primal victory yell when announced the winner. “But in the end, it was a victory for Mexico. 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.”
A dejected Golovkin stormed out the ring before the post-fight interview. Later, he chose his words carefully regarding the decision.
“I’m not going to say who won tonight, because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges,” said Golovkin. “I thought it was a very good fight for the fans and very exciting. I thought I fought better than he did.”
The controversial defeat is the first of Golovkin’s career and keeps the door open for a rubber match on Cinco de Mayo in 2019. Should it happen, expect another close battle.
What a fight! I had GGG winning 115-113 but I can see it the other way. Canelo getting the 12th on two scorecards will rub some the wrong way, but I thought Alvarez was fairly consistent after a bad start.
This Canelo-GGG rivalry is starting to take on the feel of Pacquiao and Marquez where all the fights are close but one guy seems to always get the benefit of the doubt. If the first fight had been scored correctly, I’d be all for Canelo and Golovkin squaring off next May. But I don’t see much changing in favor of GGG. I’d rather both guys look at other options for 1-2 fights and then revisit a trilogy.
Canelo will likely want to take a victory lap and David Lemieux, who destroyed Spike O’Sullivan in one round on the undercard, would be that perfect opponent for that.
Should that happen, GGG would be free to go for another belt against the winner of Billy Joe Saunders and Demetrius Andrade next month. Or he could go for a big money international fight in Japan against WBA title-holder Ryota Murata.
What was your scorecard?