The Mexican superstar Saul & # 39; Canelo & # 39; Álvarez scored the long-awaited rematch on Saturday night with Gennady Golovkin, who won the WBC and WBA middleweight titles by a majority decision in a classic encounter that guarantees a third edition in May.
Two of the best of her generation's pure fighters in the T-Mobile Arena rode a sold-out 21,965 to a match of extreme physical and psychological intensity that even surpassed their first electric meeting last year, ending in a widely mocked split-draw , This was just as close and not without controversy, only speckled by controversy, instead of defining it. The referees Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld scored 115-113 for Álvarez, Glenn Feldman 114-114. (The guard gave it to Golovkin 116-112.)
Álvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs), the popular redheaded puncher from Guadalajara, now adds £ 160 to Golovkin's belt to claim the light middleweight title he earned in 2015 by beating Miguel Cotto.
"I showed my victory with facts," said 29-year-old Álvarez later through an interpreter. "He was the one who retired, and I'm satisfied because I fought hard, it was a clear win."
For Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), the gossip marked his first defeat in 40 professional fights, the first at every level since the 2005 Amateur World Championships, and finished his division-record series of 20 consecutive Middleweight Title defense on par with Bernard Hopkins, who incidentally is a minority shareholder in Golden Boy Promotions, which sponsors Álvarez. After that, the 36-year-old from Kazakhstan, the longest active player in the sport, no longer went to the dressing room without being in the ring for the usual interview.
During their first collision 364 days ago in the same building, Golovkin had spent the night methodically cutting off the ring with skillful footwork, while Álvarez fought the ropes with mixed results. But from the first night of Saturday night, the action took on a radically different geometry and played almost exclusively in the middle of the ring, with none of the fighters touching the edge again until the middle rounds. Golovkin did not wait long to establish the Jab as his weapon of choice, doubling and tripling early as he fought back from the cumbersome combinations that were his calling card in a career that ended on Saturday 34 of 39 in the distance.
A very tactical opening, in which no man withdrew and so little parted, began to warm in the second and third, as the fighters opened and drilled harder. Golovkin continued to score with the jab, but Álvarez's varied attack seemed to pull the Kazakh back and off balance, while the Mexican's combined combination thrust exposed the difference in hand speed.
Álvarez's dedicated bodywork, which would pay off in later rounds, successfully halted Golovkin's offensive, but the long-time middleweight champion took his opponent's best shots with little visible effect. In a series of skirmishes that took the sense of bullet chess, both men met exquisitely: this was a work at the expert level of two top operators.
A thundering Golovkin upset shook Álvarez early in the fourth and made the crowd listen. He followed him with three straight jabs, then let his opponent pay with a compact left, followed by a right square in the stomach. But just when Golovkin seemed to take command, his working rhythm slowed and Álvarez was immediately there to take advantage of it.
In sixth and seventh place, Canelo dominated the speed and geography of the two-way action, while Golovkins jab continued to score and negotiated inside with hooks to the body and combinations upstairs. They exchanged hellfire in the eighth and showed incredible shock resistance. But it was Golovkin who, at the end of the frame, betrayed fatigue, breathed open-mouthed, and withdrew from the exchange with atypical consent. Álvarez, who moved backwards, landed a left hook on Golovkin's jaw, followed by three more shots that frenzied the Independence day's Mexican convention. When the bell rang to signal the end of the eighth, Canelo took command.
Until then, a cut had opened that caught Álvarez's eye, and he seemed to flutter early in the ninth, but Golovkin was unable to let go of his exhaustion. Back and forth it was in the 10th, as Golovkin Canelo pushed back with a four-stroke combination and briefly stunned his opponent with the right hand. Golovkin landed the cleaner blows and was on the clear attack on the 11th, reminding of the search and destroy mode operundi that had become his signature, but Álvarez held his ground and refused to back down without allowing the older champion to land without landing reasonable remuneration.
Both fighters went into the final round, believing that the outcome was doubtful – rightly, as Canelo led with a slight 105-104 lead on all three cards – but Golovkin showed the stronger finishing kick with a left hook and an uppercut to opening the frame and pouring over the punishment as the crowd sings "Tri-ple G! Tri-ple G!" As the bell sounded, the fighters embraced and then returned to their corners to await the official results waiting.
(If there has been a controversy, Moretti and Weisfeld have found a way to forgive the result – swinging 12, as clear as Golovkin, as it was, to Álvarez.)
"I'm not going to say who won tonight, for the win belongs to Canelo after the judges," Golovkin said, after receiving eight stitches for a 5 cm cut along his right eye. "I thought it was a very good fight for the fans and very exciting, I thought I fought better than him."
Golovkin threw and landed at a higher frequency during the night and combined 234 out of 879 strokes (26.6%), compared to 202 out of 622 for Álvarez (32.5%). But the determination and adaptability of the younger, pillar Álvarez was enough to carry the day, if only by the narrowest margins.
"I can not complain, we have the judges for that," said Golovkin coach Abel Sanchez. "We had a great fight that we had expected the first time, I was close to 12th, we had good judges who saw it from different angles, I can not complain about the decision, but it is close enough to justify a third fight, Canelo has fought a big fight. "
Asked whether he would consider a third meeting, Golovkin, who has now twice denied what could or should be the crucial moment of a prolific career largely spent outside the mainstream limelight, was to the point.
"Under the right conditions, yes," he said.
Álvarez did not come back from a third fight, where he would almost certainly enter the favorites after playing the underdog role in the first two.
"It was a great fight, but in the end it was a win for Mexico," said Alvarez. "And again it was an opportunity, and I want to cheer on my opponent, the best in boxing, I'm a great fighter, and I showed it tonight.
"If people want another round, I'll do it again."