Stop the Nonsense: Give Us Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin 3

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 14: Boxers Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin face to face during the official Weigh-in at T-Mobile Arena on September 14, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
Omar Vega/Getty Images

Canelo Alvarez's ring resume isn't quite pristine.

He's been a professional boxer for more than half his life, with precisely two losses in 61 fights.

The first blemish came nearly nine years ago against imminent Hall of Famer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and is largely pardoned these days as simply too much, too soon for a 22-year-old kid.

And the second came Saturday night, when he was outboxed, outslugged, and comprehensively outworked by a big, talented, and determined light heavyweight in Dmitry Bivol.

It was jarring given the pound-for-pound ace's win percentage but just as easily excused given that a guy who'd debuted at 140 pounds was fighting one who'd never weighed in lighter than 173.

For a guy who values legacy, it was the price of greatness.

Or, in this case, of reaching for greatness.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 07: Dmitry Bivol (L) punches Canelo Alvarez during their WBA light heavyweight title fight at T-Mobile Arena on May 07, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bivol retained his title by unanimous decision. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Lest anyone forget, Alvarez had spent most of the past four years as a modern throwback to years past, when champions prioritized conquering new turf over simply protecting their own.

Already flush with middleweight jewelry, he defeated three titleholders at 168 pounds and another at 175—becoming Mexico's first undisputed champ and the sport's undisputed kingpin.

A win over Bivol, he said, would be the first step in yet another quest for undisputed status.

But the three 115-113 scores in his Russian foe's favor suggest something else.

It's time to finish old business before chasing anything else new.

Alvarez's two-fight series with Gennady Golovkin cemented his status as a pay-per-view star and kicked off the aforementioned stretch in which he conquered myriad champions across multiple weights.

Officially, he's 1-0-1 against Triple G, having won a majority decision and the boogeyman's middleweight title in 2018 after fighting him to a split draw a year earlier.

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 15:  Gennady Golovkin punches Canelo Alvarez during their WBC/WBA middleweight title fight at T-Mobile Arena on September 15, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

But more than a few folks disagree.

In fact, it's not hard to find fans and media members who'd score him down 0-2.

"At best, 1-1, perhaps 0-1-1. Very fortunate not to be 0-2," Randy Gordon, former editor of The Ring and current host of At The Fights on SiriusXM Radio, told Bleacher Report.

"I thought the draw belonged to GGG. I think that should have been a win for GGG.

"The win for Canelo in fight number two I could live with, but I can see how many thought GGG really won it, or should have pulled out a 114-114 draw, as Glenn Feldman had it."

Regardless of your lean, it's been every bit that close.

Five of six scorecards across two fights have been either 6-6 or 7-5—excluding Adelaide Byrd's laughable 10-2 in the opener—and neither man has been able to control the other for significant stretches.

They've boxed. They've brawled. They've been punished. They've been bloodied.

They've thrown more than 2,700 punches at one another and landed better than 800, with Alvarez holding a statistical advantage—albeit a slight one, 32.9 percent to 28.6—across 72 minutes.

It's the nip-and-tuck stuff that all-time rivalries are made of.

And the best news from Saturday night is that it's not done yet.

Or at least that it shouldn't be.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 07: Dmitry Bivol (R) exchanges punches with Canelo Alvarez during their WBA light heavyweight title fight at T-Mobile Arena on May 07, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bivol retained his title by unanimous decision. (Photo by Ethan Mille
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

He wasn't about to admit it afterward, but Alvarez's loss to Bivol wasn't the product of bad judging or flawed timing. It was a bigger guy, with sound fundamentals, a good chin and zero jitters, employing a style that will bedevil him every time he sees it—be it in Las Vegas, Guadalajara or Moscow.

When Alvarez hit Caleb Plant, Billy Joe Saunders and Sergey Kovalev, they felt it.

But when he hit Bivol, Bivol hit him back twice.

A 152-84 margin in landed punches for the winner as a 5-to-1 underdog doesn't bode well for Alvarez with a Bivol who's more confident and even better prepared—meaning the rematch clause mentioned in Saturday's immediate aftermath is the last option promoter Eddie Hearn should suggest Sunday.

Especially considering a Golovkin trilogy was sketched out by the parties earlier this year.

And now that interim business is handled, they can enter the air reserved for the sport's most recognized pairs and guarantee they'll be prominently mentioned on each other's Hall of Fame plaques.

Heavyweights Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier laid much of the foundation for their respective legends over 41 rounds in the ring between 1971 and 1975, while welterweights Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran did the same across three fights of their own from 1980 to 1989.

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JUNE 7:  Arturo Gatti (L) and Micky Ward trade punches during their Junior Welterweight bout at Boardwalk Hall on June 7, 2003 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Gatti won a unanimous decision. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty  Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The career arcs of Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward were defined, too, by their three apocalyptic fights across 13 months in 2002 and 2003, and Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez took it a step further, fighting four times across three weight divisions between 2004 and 2012.

In their aftermaths, it's impossible to think of one man without imagining the other.

And, when it comes to this one, what's a rivalry without some heat?

Golovkin is keenly aware of the standings with his high-profile nemesis and expressed frustration in a chat with Bleacher Report that his own prodigious accomplishments—holding a title every year since 2011, stopping 15 straight foes in title fights, etc.—were overshadowed by the first two bouts.

"I don't think that my rivalry with Canelo Alvarez is the only thing that characterizes my career," he said. "Just to point out a few things: I am the record-holder for the number of defenses—21 defenses. I have the biggest number of knockouts. And I think there are people who will remember me by that.

"There are people to whom it would matter more."

Matter a lot? Perhaps.

Matter more? No chance.

Though defeats of Kell Brook (TKO 5), Daniel Jacobs (UD 12) and David Lemieux (TKO 8) were menacing in spots and compelling throughout, none drew nor deserved the attention of the Alvarez fights.

And unless he delivers a clear victory in Act III, Golovkin gets the sort of forever second-place status that Frazier has with Ali after three fights and Tommy Hearns has with Ray Leonard after two.

Frazier and Hearns surely had spectacular moments, but their rivals' moments were both more frequent and memorable, giving them a permanent victory on the perception scorecard.

"It's a vital necessity for Triple G," former HBO blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley, who called several of both men's fights on the network, told Bleacher Report. "And since there won't be a fourth fight, the rivalry will end either as a standoff or as a triumph for Canelo."

It may be an unfair reality for a Hall-worthy competitor.

But when it comes to combat, if you're not first you're last.