Phil Stevens (aka ‘One to watch’) looks back at the first meeting between Canelo and GGG.
September 16th, 2017
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
GENNADY GOLOVKIN (37-0) v SAUL ALVAREZ (49-1-1)
WBC, WBA super, IBF and IBO world middleweight titles
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez – the cinnamon kid. The Mexican superstar had a tenuous grip on the mythical lineal middleweight championship of the world.
Canelo was a bonafide box office star and a walking boxing A-side. With power and money come great influence and Alvarez had used it for every inch he could get in a number of ‘catch weight’ fights under the middleweight umbrella.
This however was crunch time. At 160 lbs and 8 fights removed from the green version that was bemused by Floyd Mayweather, team Golden Boy and Alvarez had gambled that 35 year old Golovkin was ready to be knocked off his perch.
Golovkin – depending on your interpretation of the governing body madness in boxing – was already a veteran of up to 18 middleweight title fights. Canelo’s lineal claim may have been arguable but GGG’s status was undeniable.
The reigning WBC, WBA super, IBF and IBO middleweight world champion stood alone. Undisputed but for a certain Billy Joe Saunders from England who held the WBO piece of the pie. Previous 160 lbs king Sergio Martinez had resisted the temptation to fight the rampaging 2012/13 version of GGG and so by default Golovkin had been a clear division no 1 since 2014 at the very latest.
Had there been signs of chinks in his armour in his previous outings v Daniel Jacobs and Kell Brook? Only time would tell.
A SPLIT DRAW
-Adelaide Byrd: CANELO 118-110
-Dave Moretti: GG 115-113
-Don Trella: DRAW 114-114
A hugely contentious decision – one of the most controversial of recent years, maybe even in history – blighted the post-fight impact. Once again everyone was talking about those judges. Particularly one Adelaide Byrd, whose 118-110 score in favour of Canelo has gone into boxing folklore.
My personal view was similar to the majority who felt GGG’s pressure and punch output had took the bulk of the rounds. Byrd’s card was widely ridiculed and took the shine off what was a fascinating stylistic match-up between a man coming into his athletic prime in Canelo and a man desperate to land that elusive major victory in GGG.
Golovkin – the noted power puncher going in – didn’t shift Canelo or manage to land any damaging power punches, not least because of Alvarez excellent upper body movement and ability to box so effectively off the back foot.
The showreel punches were those of the Mexican’s. Such an explosive and accurate puncher, Canelo won’t have landed many a better punch in his career than that of the overhand right landed in round 9. GGG confirming his iron credentials by barely even blinking.
Honours even? Officially yes, but if deadlocked boxing matches were still decided by newspaper decisions there would have only been one winner, the guy that went home with the belts – Gennady Golovkin.