LAS VEGAS -- After years of bad blood, Canelo Alvarez has finally scored a clear win over Gennadiy Golovkin.
After two controversial outcomes at 160 pounds against his longtime rival, Alvarez claimed a hard-fought unanimous decision victory in the year's biggest fight to date to retain the undisputed super middleweight championship on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Judge Dave Moretti, who scored the first 115-113 for Golovkin, scored the fight 116-112 while Steve Weisfeld and David Sutherland submitted identical tabs of 115-113, all for Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs), who rebounded from his one-sided loss to WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitriy Bivol in May.
“Thank you so much my friend, thank you Golovkin, thank you for everything. We gave the fans three good fights. Thank you for everything,” Alvarez stated after scoring his second consecutive win over Golovkin.
“Thank you so much for your support. I’ve gone through very difficult things in my life. Only thing you can do is continue to move forward. I’ve gone through difficult times with my defeat. But defeats can show how you can be great, how you can come back and show humility.”
After the final bell and 36 rounds of fighting, they shared a long embrace in the center of the ring, ending a feud that turned personal after Alvarez tested positive twice for the banned substance clenbuterol, which led to the initial postponement of their rematch after the Mexican was handed a six-month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The revelation came nearly five months after their highly-controversial draw in September 2017.
They nearly came to blows at the weigh-in for their September 2018 rematch, which Alvarez won via majority decision. Tonight, albeit not as close and not as competitive, high-level boxing was still on display.
Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs), who entered the ring off a ninth-round TKO over previously unbeaten world champion Ryota Murata in April, stepped up in weight for the first time following a legendary run at 160-pounds, where he remains a unified titlist. However, on Saturday, he was outgunned by the younger, fresher fighter. But he didn't go out without a fight, rallying in the late rounds. But ultimately, it wasn't enough to score that elusive win over Alvarez, who praised his rival after another 12 rounds of action.
“He’s a really good fighter. He’s strong. That’s why we are here. I’m going to keep forward, keep my legacy going.”
For the first time in their trilogy, Alvarez outlanded Golovkin.
Canelo landed 130 of 487 punches (27 percent) and Golovkin landed 120 of 521 (23 percent).
Although Golovkin, at the age of 40, was more active, he was not as effective, clearly exemplified by the lower number in punch connects.
Said Golovkin: “You know for this - everybody knows - this is high-level, the best fight for boxing. Look at his face. Look at my face. It’s high-level. Because we trained well, and this is shows that we did a very good fight, very good quality.”
Alvarez, who owns all four 168-pound beltshowever, did not escape the fight uninjured. He revealed after the fight that his left has been “f***** up” from the Caleb Plant fight, a November 2021 victory that preceded the Bivol fight and won him the undisputed championship.
"I can't hold a glass," said Alvarez, 32. "It's really bad. But I'm a warrior.
"I've gone through some very difficult things my life and the only thing you can do is to try and continue and move forward," Alvarez said. "I've gone through difficult times with my defeats and I've shown that defeats are great. It enables you to come back and show humility."
That's exactly what Alvarez exhibited in the aftermath of a second straight victory over Golovkin, a third bout that took four years to materialize but finally produced a clear winner.
The first bout, in September 2017, appeared to be a clear Golovkin win but was ruled a split draw by the judges. Although Álvarez won the second fight, it was still viewed as inconclusive because the bout was truly that competitive.
Golovkin hinted that he could return to the middleweight division, where he remains a unified champion.
"Remember I have [two] belts at 160. I come back, I'm still champion," said Golovkin. "This fight is more tactical. Today, Canelo is better. Congrats to Canelo."
Although the action was far subdued from the first two entries to the memorable rivalry, the action picked up significantly in the final four rounds.
Golovkin, a native of Kazakhstan who fights out of Santa Monica, pinned Alvarez against the ropes in round nine and connected with some solid power shots.
Round 10 was more of the same with Golovkin mixing in a slew of sharp right uppercuts on the inside set up by Golovkin’s signature jab.
In the 11th round, he ripped Alvarez open over the right eye and finished with a strong head of steam.
The fight was mostly technical for the first seven rounds, which left a sour taste in fans’ mouths, as boo birds erupted in some parts of the arena. Golovkin sporadically landed with his jab and not much else. Alvarez, meanwhile connected with a hard shot here and there, but still managed to back up Golovkin with sustained pressure, including his signature body attack.
Canelo found success early on, connecting with short left hooks that left Golovkin’s face reddened.
Alvarez continued to move Golovkin back with sharp right hands to the body and in round five, snapped his head back with a massive overhand right. However, Golovkin has still yet to taste the canvas in 395 combined amateur/professional fights, an astounding statistic.
Leading up to the fight, Alvarez made it clear he preferred to face Bivol in a rematch. But after beating Golovkin, Alvarez’s injury likely means he’ll be resting for an extended period of time—and with that—spending some quality time with his wife and children.
As for Golovkin, he’s near the end, but this version of him would still stand a chance of beating WBC 160-pound titlist Jermall Charlo and Chris Eubank Jr.
We, the boxing public, should also be thankful that we were able to witness one of the best—and most lucrative—rivalries in modern boxing history. Wilder-Fury was solid but one fighter clearly dominated the trilogy. The combination of scintillating and bankable is quite rare.
"I'm just glad to share the ring with him," Alvarez said. "We've given the fans three really good fights. I'm glad to be involved in that kind of fights."