Saul “Canelo” Alvarez retained his undisputed world super middleweight title on Saturday as he saw off Gennady Golovkin to wrap up their epic trilogy of fights in Las Vegas.
Mexican Alvarez led the majority of the 12 rounds in the T-Mobile electric arena, winning by unanimous decision, which sparked wild scenes of celebration among the Mexican fans who made up most of the sold-out crowd.
One judge scored the fight 116-112, while the other two scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Alvarez, who took control early and kept maneuvering even as Golovkin stepped up in the later rounds.
“Thank you very much, my friend,” Alvarez told Golovkin in the ring after the bout, which was marked by bitter rhetoric. “We gave the fans three good fights. Thanks for all”.
It was a welcome return to form for Alvarez, who suffered the second loss of his career earlier this year after moving up to light heavyweight to face Dmitry Bivol.
“We need to keep moving forward,” he said. “I showed that defeat can show that you can be great and can regain your humility.
“He’s a good fighter, a real fighter,” he added of Golovkin. “I’m glad to share the ring with him.”
This return to 168 pounds clearly suited Alvarez, but Golovkin had to regret the lead start, in which he only flared up when it was too late.
“It was a tactical mistake on my part to start slowly, but we wanted to see how the fight would develop,” said Golovkin. “I think we both started slowly.”
Alvarez improved to 58-2-2 with 39 knockouts, but he said he knew he wouldn’t get the knockout in the first round, as he said, before the fight he craved.
“In the first round, I knew he was tough,” Alvarez said. “He’s a tough fighter. I need surgery, my left arm is not okay. But I’m fine, I’m a warrior, that’s why I’m here. I can’t hold a glass. It’s too bad. But I’m a warrior.”
This long-awaited third fight between the two strongest fighters in the world comes a full four years after their last meeting.
Back in 2018, it was Alvarez who raised his hand at the end of 12 hectic, quality rounds in which Golovkin was defeated for the first time as he came out on the wrong end of a narrow majority decision.
Their first fight the year before had ended in a draw, and the outcome of their second fight was a tough one for the Kazakhstani warrior who has little time for Alvarez and made no bones about it while preparing here this week.
Bad blood has boiled since the Mexican failed a drug test and was suspended for six months, delaying this trilogy.
Golovkin, who lost 42-2 with one draw and 37 knockouts, said any dispute with Alvarez was “100% settled” and he had no animosity towards him.
“I want to shake hands with Canelo,” he said. “If you don’t understand, you don’t understand anything.”
Alvarez stepped into the ring to the roar of an adoring crowd, many of whom were still in the mood for a post-Independence Day party in Sin City.
– Mexico! –
GGG had been on the road for nearly a decade, so fighting Alvarez – and a beefy crowd – was nothing new, unlike the super middleweight fight, which was a first for the 40-year-old.
The chants “Mexico! Mexico!” roared Alvarez, who opened aggressively but was unable to penetrate Golovkin’s rearguard.
The first couple of rounds were evasive, with Alvarez throwing a lot but missing everything.
Golovkin’s face began to turn red thanks to Alvarez’s jab.
The Mexican was firmly at the forefront. A powerful right hook in the fifth hit Golovkin on a granite chin, but the Kazakh was able to absorb the power and continue his work against a much more aggressive opponent.
Golovkin began to show his age as Alvarez continued his series of punches in an attempt to break GGG’s defense.
In the ninth round, Alvarez was at the ropes, but Golovkin simply could not break through, although he began to throw more punches.
The last few rounds were hectic and intense, with Golovkin throwing everything at his Mexican opponent, but it was too little, too late, as Alvarez held firm.
Alvarez said he was not surprised by Golovkin’s late pressure.
“It didn’t surprise me. I know him – he is a strong fighter.”
And he said that he would be glad to have the opportunity to take revenge on Bivol for the defeat, but first he needs to recover.
“I need to give my body a rest,” Alvarez said. “I need to rest my arm, my body, but I will come back stronger. I will beat him.”
Meanwhile, Golovkin scoffed at the idea that defeat could send him into retirement.
“Remember, I’m still the 160-pound champion,” said Golovkin, the IBF and WBA middleweight champion of the world. “I’m coming back guys, I’m still the champion.”