LAS VEGAS. Luckily, the rivalry between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin ended on Saturday because the judges just can’t get it right when the two are in the ring.
Alvarez scored a one-sided victory over Golovkin in their rubber match at the T-Mobile Arena, winning by unanimous decision and retaining the undisputed super middleweight championship belt.
Alvarez reasonably won 10 rounds and you could easily give him 11 or even all 12 rounds. Golovkin didn’t have the fire that marked his Hall of Fame career. He landed multiple hits, never gave Alvarez a hard time, and seemed unable to draw his weapon from its holster.
However, Steve Weisfeld and David Sutherland were 115-113 in favor of Alvarez, meaning that if Golovkin had won another round on Saturday, it would have been a draw again. And anyone who saw that fight knows that it was not a draw. These results are egregiously bad, almost as bad as Adalaida Bird’s 118-110 card to Canelo in 2017.
Dave Moretti, one of the best referees of all time, was 116-112, which was too close, but at least he wasn’t one round away from a draw.
The build-up was marked by hostility as the two exchanged taunts. Alvarez repeatedly said that he was going to go for a knockout because he did not care what Golovkin said about him. And Alvarez was indeed bombarding Golovkin with fastballs from the start, looking for the killing blow.
It never came to that, but he beat Golovkin thoroughly, and in the end it looked like a cliffhanger. It was a cliffhanger much like the 1940 NFL championship game, when the Bears defeated the Redskins 73-0.
Golovkin never participated in this fight and never gave Alvarez a hint of trouble. But after that he was satisfied with his game plan.
“Strategy,” he said of his, um, comeback. “Second half I feel good. It’s a good fight.”
Golovkin is one of the real good guys in boxing, but I’m sorry. It was a bad fight. You got more than your money’s worth if you bought the fights between them in 2017 and 2018, but you gave away the bulk of that on Saturday. There was no rivalry in it, there was little ebb and flow, there was not a hint of drama.
But the judges… dude.
Epic bad results sometimes happen in this sport, and the Weisfeld and Sutherland cards in particular fall into that shameful area.
The sad thing is that it took away what Alvarez achieved. He said that he seriously injured his left hand during the fight, but during the fight it was hard to tell.
When it ended, they hugged and talked for a long time in the center of the ring. After DAZN finished interviewing them, they shook hands again and hugged. It was nice to see that the top athletes were able to leave the steak behind and move on. As Golovkin repeatedly said before the fight, they are professional athletes. Alvarez was accommodating after the fight, making it look like he was trying his best to snatch a win when in fact he wasn’t at all like that.
“Thank you very much my friend, thank you Golovkin, thank you for everything,” Alvarez said. “We gave the fans three good fights. Thank you for everything. Thank you very much for your support. I have gone through very difficult things in my life. The only thing you can do is keep moving forward. I went through hard times because of my defeat. But defeat can show you how great you can be, how you can come back and show humility.”
Incredibly, Golovkin has won the last three rounds with the Weisfeld card and has won four of the last five with the Sutherland card. It was a mystery to the loud crowd and anyone who paid more attention to what was going on in the ring.
“It didn’t surprise me,” Alvarez said of Golovkin’s late prank. “I know him… He is a strong fighter. For me, I’m just happy to share the ring with him. He’s really a good fighter. I am happy to participate in such a fight.”
Alvarez said that Golovkin’s skill prevented him from achieving the promised knockout. He moved to 58-2-2 in what should have been one of the most satisfying wins of his career. He constantly fired powerful punches at Golovkin, but Golovkin had a legendary big chin and he used it to good use. Canelo knew from the very beginning that getting rid of the opponent, as he promised, would be difficult.
“First round [I knew it would be hard]’ Alvarez said of his knockout hopes. “I knew he was cool. He is a tough fighter. Do I need an operation. My left hand is not right. But I’m fine. I am a warrior. That’s why I’m here. I can’t hold a glass. It’s really bad. But I am a warrior.”
In his career and in his three fights with Golovkin, he proved it.
And it’s not meant to belittle Golovkin’s career because he’s one of the best to ever do it and he should be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame the moment he becomes eligible. But he didn’t win Saturday’s fight and wasn’t close enough to win.
The judges gave him a gift. They made him look closer than he was. They made the explosion look like burning a barn. Luckily, the right guy won.
It wasn’t always like this on this show.