LAS VEGAS — After the final bell and round of 36, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin shared a long hug that apparently ended their first A growing personal feud in the five years since they met in the ring.
In another close fight, Alvarez maintained his undisputed super middleweight title Saturday at T-Mobile Arena, unifying in front of a raucous pro-Canelo crowd during Mexico’s Independence Day weekend Decided to beat his longtime foe in the trilogy.
Two referees made it 115-113, while the third made it 116-112 for Alvarez.
Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) got off to a strong start, while Golovkin slammed and barely threw his powerful right hand, a punch that made him a star and legendary middleweight champion. Finally, in the closing stages, Golovkin stood his ground and won four of the last five rounds with two scorecards, but it was too late.
As they embraced, Alvarez told Golovkin, “Thank you so much, my friend. Thank you for everything. We gave the fans three great games.”
The chit-chat was in stark contrast to the pre-match preparations when Alvarez vowed to end Golovkin’s career with a knockout victory. He even called Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs) a liar who pretended to be a nice guy.
Now, the dust has settled, the competition is over, and the fighters are heading in different directions.
Alvarez, who holds all four 168-pound belts, could play Dmitri Bivol next year in a rematch to tie the score in May, when Bivol beat him by decision. But first, Alvarez said he needed surgery on his left hand, although he did not provide specifics on the injury.
“I can’t hold the cup,” said Alvarez, 32. “It’s really bad. But I’m a fighter.”
Boxing’s top star, Alvarez, told ESPN at the circus that his hand “was taken out of the fight at Caleb Plant” in November’s TKO victory before losing to Bivol.
“I’ve been through some really difficult things in life and the only thing you can do is try to move on,” Alvarez said. “I’ve been through tough times with failure, and I’ve shown that failure is great. It allows you to come back and show humility.”
That’s exactly what Alvarez showed after his second win over Golovkin, the third meeting between Golovkin and boxing fans eagerly awaited four years to materialize. The September 2018 rematch, in which Alvarez won by majority decision, is far from convincing and the fight needs to be fought again. The first match in September 2017 was a contentious draw that Golovkin insisted on winning.
The two fights weigh in at 160 pounds, and Golovkin remains the unified champion.
“Remember that I have [two] Belt at 160 lbs. I’m back and I’m still a champion,” said Golovkin, who is making his 168-pound debut.
Since he won an Olympic silver medal in 2004, he has weighed 160 pounds in the title race.
“Everyone knows, this is the senior class. This is the best fighter in boxing. Everyone knows who Canelo is. It’s a huge fight. Look at his face, look at my face. We Well trained, it shows we did a very good fight.
“This fight was more tactical. Today, Canelo was better. Congrats Canelo.”
In fact, the fight was a far cry from the memorable first two games of their legendary rivalry, save for the final four rounds, when the action grew exponentially.
Golovkin, a Kazakh native who played in Los Angeles, trailed and picked up the pace on all three cards entering the tournament. After he pinned Alvarez in the corner, he started to fire with his right hand, which made him a future Hall of Famer and made some big shots in the ninth round.
Even more so in the 10th round, where Golovkin’s excellent jab set up a sharp right uppercut on the inside. In the 11th round, he smashed Alvarez on the right eye and finished strong in the final round.
“In the second half, I felt pretty good,” Golovkin said. “The fight is so smart. It’s more tactical, like chess.”
In the first seven rounds, though, the fight wasn’t great. Golovkin punched him but never followed up with his right hand. Meanwhile, Alvarez took control of the game and pushed Golovkin back with enormous pressure.
He struck Golovkin in the body with his blunt right hand, hitting the liver and a left hook in the face. By the end of the third round, Golovkin’s face was swollen and a large scar appeared on his forehead.
As the fight went on, Canelo continued to slam Golovkin’s midsection with his right hand, and in round 5 he took what was probably the biggest punch of the fight, an overhand right hand that slammed the challenger’s head over Break back.
Still, Golovkin was never in any danger. After all, he has one of the best jaws in boxing and doesn’t seem to have been eroded by time.
But the passage of time finally ended the fierce competition. Alvarez, ESPN’s number one. The 5-pound-for-pound boxer, after a well-deserved break, will be looking to recapture the top spot he held before beating Bivol.
Golovkin is nearing the end, but he insists on continuing his career. After Saturday’s final round against Alvarez, there was interest in his future, whether it was 160 or 168.
No matter what happened to everyone, their time together in the ring was over, and with it came one of the greatest — and most trusted — rivalries in boxing history.
“I’m excited to share the ring with him,” Alvarez said. “We gave the fans three very good games. I’m very happy to be part of a game like this.”