Las Vegas, Nevada, USA : Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez claimed the WBC and WBA world middleweight titles by inflicting a first career defeat on Gennady Golovkin with a gripping points win in their Las Vegas rematch.
The Mexican claimed a frenetic final round on the scorecards which proved critical in preventing a repeat of the draw both men shared, 364 days earlier at the same T-Mobile Arena venue.
At the end of a contest which showcased the expert skill level of two of the sport’s finest practitioners, Alvarez scored a 114-114 115-113 115-113 majority decision.
Golovkin, whose first defeat comes in his 40th bout – left the ring immediately without conducting an interview as his rival – fighting for the first time since serving a six-month drugs ban – celebrated.
“My corner told me that I needed to win the final round and that what’s I did,” said Alvarez. “I’m very emotional.”
It took a year for boxing’s most anticipated rematch to finally come together, 12 more rounds for it to simmer, and it all boiled down to a split-second of anticipation.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez got what he had waited for, victory over Gennady Golovkin following 12 months of conjecture and controversy, with the narrowest of points victories being announced as T-Mobile Arena and the boxing world waited to see the outcome of this fascinating rivalry.
Alvarez looked close to tears after a decision which will again prompt controversy as, for spells in the fight, Golovkin seemed to be edging the physical side of a tactical battle, with his jab proving key early on.
“I showed my victory with facts. He was the one who was backing up,” said Alvarez. “I feel satisfied because I gave a great fight. It was a clear victory.”
It was not a classic fight, but it constantly broiled with intensity. It looked a lot different this time, as Alvarez abandoned his prior game plan and became the aggressor, moving forward whenever possible and taking the fight to Golovkin, the knockout artist from Kazakhstan.
Alvarez was buoyant during the mid-point of the contest and seemed to be growing in confidence. But when Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez informed his fighter he was almost certainly losing on the scorecards, it brought a fresh round of effort and intensity.
Golovkin won the 10th and 11th and appeared to have done enough to also secure the 12th with a burst of early firepower. If all three judges agreed, a draw would have resulted a second time. That’s how close it was. Golovkin may not have agreed with the decision, skulking back to his dressing room afterwards, but there was no judging conjecture this time around, no ludicrous 118-110 card such as that delivered by Adalaide Byrd in fight one.
Both men came in with a point to prove. The rematch was supposed to happen in May, but Alvarez tested positive for banned substance Clenbuterol, which he claimed was a result of eating tainted Mexican meat.
Golovkin was infuriated by that, and Alvarez was later incensed when Golovkin called him a serial doper. The friendly respect of the initial clash dissipated and there was an undercurrent of anger this time around.
Whether it was that mindset that spurred Alvarez to take greater risks and initiate more forward progress, only he will know. But in a razor-thin decision it was likely the difference, at the end of a night — and a year — filled with drama.
Celebrities including actors Will Smith and Denzel Washington, and sports stars such as Mike Tyson and LeBron James sat ringside as the capacity 20,000 inside the arena were taken in by a bout in which neither man looked like capitulating at any stage.