Fans got everything they wanted out of the rematch between Gennady Golovkin and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, including a winner. After the duo fought to a controversial split draw in their first matchup last September, Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) was victorious the second time, beating Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) by a majority decision Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire provided the cards:
Black Sports Online's Robert Littal noted Alvarez pulled out the victory late:
The defeat is the first of Golovkin's career. Alvarez took the IBO, WBA and WBC middleweight titles with the win. He changed his strategy from the first fight, staying away from the ropes and remaining in the middle of the ring with Golovkin. Alvarez's counterpunching and body work impressed the judges more than Golovkin's relentless, punishing jab.
CBS Sports' Brian Campbell, boxer Amir Khan and LeBron James reacted to the decision:
Immediately after the bout, Alvarez said he was happy to add another chapter to the rivalry, per ESPN's Arash Markazi:
Golovkin left the ring without giving an interview. It's a stinging defeat for the 36-year-old, who punched his way to the top of the sport without getting a trademark victory. Alvarez was his ticket to immortality, but he didn't do enough to convince the judges.
For Alvarez, it's a redemptive victory and one that firmly establishes him as one of the best of his generation. He faced harsh criticism from Golovkin for a banned-substance suspension that pushed the fight from its original May date. But almost one year after getting a draw against one of the hardest hitters the sport has seen, Alvarez boxed his way to a close win.
The early rounds saw both boxers try to establish the jab. Golovkin did better to find the range, but Alvarez impressed with hard body shots. Yahoo Sports' Chris Mannix noted body work was missing from Golovkin's attack:
The two stayed toe-to-toe in the center of the ring, with neither competitor doing much circling away from the other. In the last fight, Alvarez started going to the ropes in the middle rounds, which allowed Golovkin to trap him beneath a cascade of thundering jabs. In this bout, he stayed in the pocket, deploying some excellent counterpunches.
Roy Jones Jr. noted Canelo put Golovkin on the back foot at times, per HBO Boxing:
Golovkin's trainer, Abel Sanchez, was worried about the trajectory of the fight by the seventh round, per The Ring's Ryan Songalia:
Alvarez's precision body shots kept the pressure on Golovkin. As the Kazakhstani pressed ahead with his jab, Alvarez mixed in the return jabs and hooks to the side. Golovkin, normally able to annihilate his opponents by the late rounds, was instead getting dragged into another brawl.
Golovkin was hitting hard enough late to draw a trickle of blood from Alvarez in the eighth. The relentless jab was doing its job.
Even with the rigorous pace, the boxers somehow picked up the action in the championship rounds. Golovkin appeared to wobble Alvarez in the 10th with a punishing left hook, but Alvarez fired back with a couple of sound uppercuts.
Campbell was loving the action:
Who needs body shots when you can hit like Golovkin? All that work to the head started paying dividends at the end of the fight. Golvokin rocked Canelo a couple of times in the 11th, staggering his opponent for the first time. Just when it looked like Alvarez's legs might give out, he tapped deep into his reserves and fought back, opening a big gash near Golovkin's right eye.
It was a brilliant, brutal war, and the judges gave it to Alvarez.
The result will leave the boxing world salivating for a third fight. Neither result was clear-cut, and it was supremely entertaining each time out. Golovkin is getting up there in years, but if a deal can be worked out, the boxing world will be happy to have it.