Boxing fans at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas gasped simultaneously as the first scorecard following the grueling battle between the top middleweight champions was read: 114-114. The possibility of another draw made the fans’ heart sink to their stomach until the announcer revealed the other two judges had scored the bout 115-113 for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez making him the new WBA, IBO, WBC, and Ring middleweight champion.
Since the starting bell, Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) maintained his promise of fighting toe-to-toe with the Khazak knockout artist and remained the aggressor while setting the pace for the entirety of the bout. Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) outshined Alvarez with his powerful jab but only landed six body shots in 12 rounds, two less than in their first fight.
Though many rounds were toss-up rounds, Golovkin had Alvarez visibly hurt in both the ninth and 10th rounds as he cornered him against the ropes for the first and only times of the fight. Golovkin’s flurry came as a result of his trainer letting him know they were losing the fight after the eighth round. Unable to finish him off, Golovkin allowed Alvarez to come back with massive shots of his own that left Golovkin’s face looking like he stuck his head in a beehive.
Through 12 rounds of both elite middleweights trading brutal punches, Alvarez scored an upset against the former unified champion by way of majority decision.
Alvarez’s victory did not come with without controversy, as many fans and the majority of media boxing experts had Golovkin winning the rematch. However, the majority of media outlets also agree there were plenty of rounds which could have gone to either fighter and the 7-5 scorecards were not improbable.
Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez was humble in defeat at the post-fight press conference and congratulated Alvarez on his performance after being hesitant about him fighting Mexican style.
“Canelo is the champion today,” Sanchez told the media. “He deserves it, he fought a great fight. Hopefully we can do this again.”
Regardless of not sticking around for a post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, Golovkin also congratulated Alvarez on his victory at the post-fight interview.
“I want to congratulate Canelo,” Golovkin said. “He left this building as the champion. I feel like I’m a champion, but he is also a champion.”
An emotional Alvarez hugged his team when announced the winner and repeatedly expressed his gratitude in the post-fight conference as well.
“I want to thank my team, Eddy and Chepo Reynoso,” said the new middleweight champion. “They’ve always b een by my side since I was 13-years-old. From knowing nothing to come to this level of boxing, I’m very proud to be with them. Apart from being great trainers, theyre also family.”
ESPN’s Teddy Atlas expressed immense disbelief and frustration after the fight, claiming Golovkin had been robbed for a second time, just in a shorter margin in the scorecards. However, former pound-for-pound champion Andre Ward defended Alvarez’s victory by saying the red-headed Mexican performed the way Sanchez asked him to and was effective in his strategy by landing tremendous body shots and pursuing Golovkin the entire fight.
Regardless of the fan’s feelings on the scorecards once again, both fighters delivered what they promised; a damn well spectacular middleweight war. Golovkin proved his age was not a factor in the fight by staying persistent with his power punches, while Alvarez silenced his critics who claimed he wouldn’t survive toe-to-toe with the middleweight knockout artist.
In the words of boxing trainer Ann Wolfe, “That little red-headed motherfucker can fight.”