One of the most highly anticipated boxing matches in recent years ended in a surprising stalemate, as Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) and Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) fought a brilliant, back-and-forth 12 rounds that ended in a split draw Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
BoxNation provided the judges' wildly different cards from the middleweight title fight:
SCORECARDS: 118-110 (Canelo), 115-113 (Golovkin) and 114-114. We have a DRAW in Las Vegas. #CaneloGGG 😲2017-9-17 04:00:18
A draw, while anticlimactic, makes sense considering both fighters displayed some of their best qualities. Alvarez did some excellent work to the body and his speed was apparent early on. Golovkin's powerful jab, precise power shots and ability to eat punches and keep forward momentum allowed him to control long stretches of the bout.
What many will be left questioning is the 118-110 scorecard by judge Adalaide Byrd. Bad Left Hook and boxing journalist Andreas Hale criticized her scoring:
Bad Left Hook @badlefthook
Scores: 118-110 Canelo (A Byrd), 115-113 (D Moretti), 114-114 (D Trella). It’s a draw. Byrd’s card is horrendous and she should be ashamed.2017-9-17 03:59:32
Andreas Hale @AndreasHale
Guys, I’m sorry that an excellent fight had to be ruined by a ridiculous scorecard.2017-9-17 04:14:29
Still, there was plenty of praise for the action on hand, fought in front of a frenzied, sold-out crowd. Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden liked what they saw:
Lennox Lewis @LennoxLewis
I have GGG as clear winner. Loved that canelo swung to the very end! Both are winners tonight! #canelovsggg2017-9-17 03:58:42
Jonathan Snowden @JESnowden
People who walk away from #CaneloGGG disappointed are some weird people. Great, close fight. And we get to see it again!2017-9-17 04:12:37
CompuBox's final punch stats show Golovkin landed more total punches, but Alvarez connected at a slightly higher rate:
FINAL STATS: @GGGBoxing was busier but @Canelo landed the higher percentage of power shots @HBOboxing #CaneloGGG https://t.co/YvSvRQHCmh2017-9-17 04:03:29
While a rematch is not yet a foregone conclusion, both fighters said they would be open to a second act after the bout.
Of course, yes. If the people want it, yes," Alvarez said, per the Sunday Express' James Gray.
“Of course I want a rematch. I want a fight," Golovkin said when asked about a rematch, per Gray.
Alvarez started off the bout brightly, growing into the fight as he settled into range and controlled the pace with his jab. Golovkin, accustomed to near constant forward movement, looked tentative on the exchanges, mostly going with jabs as he tried to figure out Alvarez's defense.
Ring's Mike Coppinger praised the movement from the 27-year-old Mexican:
Mike Coppinger @MikeCoppinger
Canelo is doing some tremendous work with upper body movement. Not giving GGG a stationary target. Landing a ton of body shots2017-9-17 03:19:41
The middle rounds saw Alvarez go to the ropes more often, where he acquitted himself better than Golovkin's previous opponents but was less effective overall.
The fight hit a fever pitch in the fifth round, with both boxers landing clean, powerful blows. A massive overhand right by Golovkin was met with a shake of the head by Alvarez, and the latter came back with some great strikes of his own, including a crunching uppercut.
HBO Boxing provided a look at the some of the carnage:
This. Is. War. #CaneloGGG https://t.co/cEoQ0jG79Z2017-9-17 03:30:45
Hale felt Alvarez was better off staying away from the edges of the ring:
Andreas Hale @AndreasHale
Canelo is playing with fire. I get what he’s doing but he’s gifting GGG rounds when he sits on the ropes.2017-9-17 03:28:45
The move to the ropes may have been a way for Alvarez to conserve energy against Golovkin's relentless hunting. The 35-year-old Kazakhstani fighter slowly dialed up the pressure in the latter half of the fight, forcing Alvarez to backpedal more. Alvarez did well to block some of Triple G's bigger swings, and his precise counterpunching made it difficult for Golovkin to maintain constant pressure.
Boxer and commentator Paul Malignaggi saw Alvarez's offense dwindling:
Paul Malignaggi @PaulMalignaggi
Spots Canelo fights back in each round are becoming fewer n further between. He is NOT in this fight.2017-9-17 03:37:15
At the same time, Alvarez was able score with truly great punches, including a picture-perfect uppercut on an advancing Golovkin in the eighth round. When able to contain the fight to the center of the ring, Alvarez impressed with vastly superior body work. However, even Alvarez's best wasn't enough to stop Golovkin from stalking him, as Boxing Scene's Shaun Brown noted:
Shaun Brown @sbrown2pt0
Nuclear right hand from Alvarez in the 9th and still the Terminator music plays.2017-9-17 03:43:17
A spirited fightback from Alvarez in the final rounds put a stamp on a fantastic night. He landed some brilliant right-handed counters in the 10th and 11th, and the final round was a complete frenzy as both fighters unloaded everything they had.
In the end, the judges were unable to decide this one, leaving Alvarez the lineal champion in the division and Golovkin with the alphabet soup of belts he carried into the fight.
A rematch would make for appointment viewing if it can be put together, as fans should be clamoring for a decisive outcome and a true king at 160 pounds.