On Saturday, September 16, 2017, Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) stepped inside the ring at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV to face Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs), the hard-hitting Middleweight who was billed as the toughest opponent of the Mexican superstar’s career.
Although many fans felt that the day would never come where Canelo and Golovkin would actually square off, after Canelo’s shellacking of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Golovkin’s close, but unanimous-decision win over Daniel Jacobs earlier this year, the brass at Golden Boy Promotions felt the time was right to match the two top Middleweight fighters.
For years, GGG had been billed as the boogeyman, not only of the Middleweight division, but of boxing in general. His daunting power consistently made it difficult to land the marquee fights he wanted—including ones against the likes of Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto.
But in boxing, “what have you done for me lately,” seems to be the prevailing motto. Instead of his dominating performances, which earned him 23 consecutive knockouts over fighters like Daniel Geale, Curtis Stevens and David Lemieux, many people pointed to Golovkin’s most recent and “vulnerable” fights where he supposedly looked beatable against the likes of Kell Brook and Jacobs.
Building off of what Brook and Jacobs were able to do, Canelo supporters argued that Canelo would expose Golovkin and finally hand the Kazakh his first professional defeat.
With a tense crowd ready to explode, the fight began with Canelo on his bicycle, circling around the ring as Golovkin patiently–and cautiously–came forward. Both men were respectful of the other, not committing to much in terms of offense, other than jabs.
As the capacity crowd went back and forth with chants of “Canelo” and “GGG” the next few rounds a repeated pattern with Canelo backing up and boxing, seemingly getting the better in exchanges with a charging Golovkin.
But, in Round 5, Canelo began to slow down as he opted to become more stationary and just like that all hell broke loose–much to the delight of fans.
Both Canelo and Golovkin trading thudding shots, both shaking their head as each man claimed that the punches weren’t having any affect.
It was high drama. The crowd erupted as the bout finally turned into the firefight many people wanted.
Those types of exchanges did not benefit Canelo, as he continued to show signs of fatigue.
Although Golovkin was clearly the aggressor throughout the fight, those that gave Canelo the fight will argue that GGG wasn’t able to land clean during those moments where Canelo was moving around the ring.
There were many surprising aspects in the fight, possibly the biggest one of all was that Canelo willingly laid on the ropes over and over (mainly because he was fatigued) and Golovkin never truly made him pay for it.
Golovkin did win out in the total punch stats category–landing 218 of 703, while Canelo landed 169 of 505, according to CompuBox.
— CompuBox (@CompuBox) September 17, 2017
That gap, of almost 200 punches thrown, demonstrates how inactive Canelo was throughout the bout compared to GGG, but the connects also show how Golovkin couldn’t land all that much more than Canelo.
As the fight went into the 12th and final round, many ringside observers believed that Golovkin held a lead that could not be taken without a knockout from Canelo.
Canelo seemed to be on the same page as he made a concerted effort to use every last bit of energy he had left to land power shots on Golovkin’s face during the first half of the round.
As the final bell sounded, the 22,358 fans roared with approval as folks exchanged their unofficial scorecards. As Michael Buffer began reading the official judge’s scores, the T-Mobile Arena erupted once again, but this time it wasn’t because of the action in the ring.
The final scores were 118-110 for Canelo, 115-113 for GGG and 114-114 even. The 118-110 score came courtesy of notoriously bad judge, Adalaide Byrd.
— Rosie Perez (@rosieperezbklyn) September 17, 2017
I thought GGG won. Those scores were just bananas.
— Jerry Ferrara (@jerryferrara) September 17, 2017
Never !! Clearly #GGG controlled the fight and won 🥊🏆
— Travis Barker (@travisbarker) September 17, 2017
“I thought I won the fight,” said Canelo Alvarez after the fight. “I think I was superior inside the ring. I won at least seven or eight rounds. I was able to counterpunch, and even make Gennady wobble a couple times. It’s up to the people if we fight again. I feel frustrated over this draw.”
“Of course I want a rematch. This was a real fight. Look, I still have all the belts. I’m still the champion,” said Golovkin who seemed more interested in a rematch than Canelo.
Although it wasn’t the BIG drama show many predicted, the fight was exciting and tense and a rematch would surely satisfy fans–as long as Byrd is not allowed near the venue.
Who do you think won the fight? Would you like to see a rematch?
Header photo by HBO