Three weeks after the Money circus left town, it was the fight to save "real" boxing.
And for nearly every one of 36 minutes, it delivered.
In fact, it wasn't until a few minutes after the final bell that the Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez middleweight matchup yielded even the slightest disappointment.
When Michael Buffer announced that judge Adalaide Byrd scored the fight 10 rounds to two in favor of the Mexican-born challenger, it drew boos even from a partisan crowd that had cheered Alvarez's every move since he'd entered T-Mobile Arena.
Nevertheless, though the knee-jerk reaction to a split-decision draw was that Golovkin had been denied a career-defining win, the next second's reaction was unanimous:
These guys need to get together again, and soon.
Because it was a good fight.
And, even more so, because it makes the most sense for both of their careers.
If instant feedback from the fighters themselves is indicative, they agree.
At least in competitive principle.
"Of course, I want a rematch," Golovkin said, after suggesting to HBO's Max Kellerman that Alvarez hadn't provided the toe-to-toe brawl he'd promised.
"I want a fight. Rematch or next fight, I want a real fight."
A defiant Alvarez, who contended the controversially wide margin from Byrd was warranted, insisted he'd be happy to duplicate the effort more violently in a second go-round.
"Of course," he told Kellerman. "If the people want it. We'll fight in the second one, but I'll win again."
Given their statuses as the lineal and the most decorated champion at 160 pounds, respectively, Alvarez and Golovkin headed back into the Las Vegas desert Sunday morning having no other opponents in the weight class who'd provide anywhere near the same hook as the other man.
They're considered Nos. 1 and 2 in the division by the Independent World Boxing Rankings, The Ring and nearly every other list-making entity worth considering, and given the competitiveness of Saturday's fight, there's little reason to believe it wouldn't bring a similar level of support from HBO.
The network gave the initial matchup a two-episode 24/7 treatment, not to mention an Under The Lights pre-fight special with Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr., and it'll broadcast a full 12-round replay Saturday night alongside the Jorge Linares-Luke Campbell fight on World Championship Boxing.
Also, T-Mobile Arena was crammed to 20,000 capacity Saturday night, a day after the weigh-in drew a similarly full house at the MGM Grand.
And the pay-per-view card produced by HBO went for $79.99 a pop.
Meanwhile, the division's holdout title claimant—WBO champ Billy Joe Saunders—fought before just 7,500 fellow countrymen in defense of his belt in London on Saturday afternoon, a fight that was available stateside via live stream on the YouTube page associated with challenger Willie Monroe Jr.'s promotional company.
Alvarez made $5 million Saturday, while Golovkin made $3 million, and they stand to make even more off PPV buys.
By contrast, when Golovkin fought Monroe in 2015, he made only $1.5 million.
Of course, if a rematch with Alvarez is what he wants, he'd be best served to do it quickly.
Many assumed Alvarez was waiting for the unbeaten champion to age a bit before signing on for the first fight, and, at 27 years old to Golovkin's 35, it would seem he's got time on his side when planning the next installment. The younger man was clearly faster with his hands and feet Saturday, and he'll be far closer to his prime whether the second bout occurs in six months, a year or more.
Chris Mannix @ChrisMannixYS
De La Hoya says that Canelo has a contractual immediate rematch clause, and that he intends to exercise it. So--see you in May.2017-9-17 05:36:23
He told Kellerman he didn't feel Golovkin's vaunted power, and Golovkin doesn't figure to get any quicker going forward. Golovkin, though, is still the four-belt champion, and while Alvarez would surely find more beatable dance partners if he chose to return to 154 pounds, none would represent the competitive challenge he maintained was his prime motivation in taking the step to 160.
These guys have made it clear that they're after greatness in the ring and are willing to push themselves to achieve it. After all, rivalries are some of what greatness is made of.
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fought three times.
Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez fought four times.
And to former featherweight champion Kevin Kelley, who shared analyst duties on RingTV.com's PPV broadcast Saturday, nothing else makes sense for either man.
"Who else would they fight?" he asked. "Who else would you want to see them fight?