Bad blood which had grown between the two protagonists during much-talked about trilogy ended in an embrace and words of respect
There was no controversy this time in the trilogy prizefight in Sin City between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin. There were no complaints, and indeed, an armistice and respect post-fight between the long-term rivals as the two great pugilists completed 36 rounds in the ring together after three Las Vegas fights spanning five years.
Indeed, if anything, after the fight world had ignited in disgust over the first encounter, scored a split draw by the judges, in a contest in which Golovkin had clearly won, this time the critique was that the judges ought to have scored the battle far further in favour of the Mexican, who dominated the first eight rounds as Golovkin, at 40 years of age, displayed the impending shadow of Father Time, struggling to find rhythm, timing and openings against the man eight years his junior. Golovkin left everything in the ring in the last four rounds though, three of which he won, closing the distance against a fatiguing opponent and landing power shots.
The three judges scored the bout 116-112 (Dave Moretti) and 115-113 twice (Steve Weisfeld, and David Sutherland) for Canelo, which appeared overly generous to Golovkin, fighting for the first time at 12st in his 26th world title fight. Your correspondent scored it 117-111 to the Mexican star, a four-weight world champion who retained his undisputed super middleweight crown in his 23rd world title contest.
— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) September 18, 2022
In many ways, it was a disappointing conclusion to one of the most anticipated, talked-about trilogies in boxing history. The speed, accuracy and aggression of Canelo, who had said he would hunt for a knockout against his foe, accounted for the early exchanges and then round after round, the new Canelo against an old Golovkin.
Canelo started faster, looked for body shots in the second round, landed flush with a left hook, and in the fifth, found his target with a huge overhand right. But it was one way traffic until the eighth round. It was not until the ninth round that the Kazakhstan star finally found some zeal and went hunting, and had success, backing up his rival with a right hand and winning the exchanges. It was the first clear round won by Golovkin in the bout revealing the changing power and resilience over the 60 months of their rivalry.
According to the CompuBox statistics, Canelo landed 130 of 487 punches (27 per cent) while Golovkin landed 120 of 521 (23 per cent). Alvarez outlanded Golovkin in every round except the ninth, 10th and 11th. I scored those three rounds for GGG.
Comparing it to their second meeting, Golovkin had landed 234 of 879 and Alvarez landed 202 of 622; in the first fight Golovkin had landed 120 of 21 and Alvarez landed 130 of 487. The three fights have concluded with two classics, one of the great controversies in boxing after which there were calls for investigations into judging, and now a definite outcome, this time in front of a crowd of 19,519 at the T-Mobile Arena on Mexican Independence Day weekend.
The bad blood which had grown between the two protagonists ended in an embrace and words of respect. “Thank you so much my friend, thank you Golovkin, thank you for everything,” said Canelo. “We gave the fans three good fights. Thank you for everything. He is a really good fighter. He’s strong. That’s why we are here. I’m going to keep going forward, keep my legacy going.”
Golovkin responded that “100 per cent” the bad feeling between them was over. The ill-feeling emerged in the lead up to their second fight, postponed because Alvarez had failed a drugs test for a trace of clenbuterol and was suspended. Canelo blamed the test on tainted Mexican beef.
“This was more tactical, more like chess,” said Golovkin, after a fight much lower in punch volume than their first two hard-fought contests. “From the first round, I knew he was tough,” explained Alvarez. “He’s a tough fighter. I need surgery, my left hand is not good. But I’m good. I’m a warrior, that’s why I’m here. I can’t hold a glass. It didn’t surprise me [he came strong late in the right]. I know him. He’s a strong fighter. For me I’m just glad to share the ring with him.”
Both will now go separate ways: Canelo looking to avenge defeat against Dimitri Bivol, the light heavyweight champion; Golovkin back down to middleweight where he holds three of the world title belts. Bivol must first defeat Gilberto Ramirez on Nov 5 in the Middle East before the rematch with Canelo can be arranged.
“I need to rest my body. I need to rest my hand, but I will come back stronger,” Canelo added. “It’s very important for my legacy to avenge defeat — for my pride, for my country, for my family, for everything. It’s very important. And I will beat him.”
Golovkin, meanwhile, insisted that there is no retirement plan. “I have a lot of appointments. Congratulations Canelo, but remember, I’m still champion at 160. I come back guys, I’m still champion.”