If you’re like me you may be tempted toward cynicism after last night’s decision handed down in the fight between GGG, Gennady Golovkin and Saul Canelo Alvarez. However, in lieu of any bitterness I would focus on the fact that in general, we witnessed a memorable fight between these two men – quite simply they both fought their asses off and most likely we’ll see a rematch provided the powers that be – chief among them Oscar de la Hoya does not reproduce his usual shenanigans.
Heading into this fight comparisons were made to the welterweight unification match that occurred on this day in 1981 also in Vegas between legends Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns. In that fight Leonard, down on all cards came back to score a late knockout to win the fight.
Unfortunately, GGG vs Canelo more resembled Leonard and Hagler due to some dubious scoring that will no doubt have boxing fans bitterly divided as well.
More on that later, for now, let’s dissect this technical street fight!
When the bell sounded for round one the sold-out T-Mobile Arena was already lifted with raucous noise from the fans filled with anticipation for what they were sure would be a middleweight fight for the ages, another one for the history books in boxing’s historical glamour division and it largely delivered!
In the opening round, Canelo was loose, he was on his toes and moving, a clear indication that he would box the slugger and it proved to be a wise decision as GGG appeared stiff and wooden, he seemed very dry as well as though he’d not gotten a sweat going. The first round saw GGG tentatively moving forward but Canelo’s movement was effective and out-jabbed the Kazakh terminator.
Round two was quite similar with Canelo moving, looking comfortable and was going to GGG’s body which confounded me, since that is a principle way to slow the boxer according to Hoyle! GGG seemed hesitant and Canelo seized what little advantage appeared in the early rounds, I had Canelo nicking this round as well.
In the 3rd GGG seemed to wake up a little bit, he started the round better but where was the footwork? He was chasing Canelo, the best pressure fighter in boxing couldn’t cut the ring off against the Mexican. Again, curiously GGG ineffectively targeted Canelo’s head but did not attack the body at all. Canelo gained confidence and banked another round in my book.
Round four was not the most dramatic, neither fighter landed anything of note, however, Canelo was still moving using defensive footwork and seemed to beguile GGG. However, GGG was being more effective with his own footwork and Canelo seemed to slow a bit, Canelo showboated on the ropes in the fourth round though it appeared this was largely due to Canelo needing to rest! A consistent knock on Canelo is that he fatigues far too early in fights and the pace he set for himself, using his feet so much and jabbing may be starting to take its toll, I thought GGG finally if narrowly won a round!
Round five was more action packed and was a great round of boxing, the two men’s styles coming together with Canelo’s elusive upper body movement proving a difficult target and his willingness to fire back when GGG did land and GGG’s well-known pressure becoming a factor. GGG began to separate himself from Canelo with that pressure as Canelo began to start rounds well yet only seemed able to muster 30-60 seconds of consistent effort while GGG continued to stalk and pressure. The Kazakh finally uncorked a massive overhand right which Canelo partially rolled with but surely must have been a significant scoring blow! GGG was on the way back here and won this round as well.
Canelo really seemed to struggle in this round and seemed to fatigue visibly. Again, the irony is most believed GGG could set a pace with his pressure that would tax Canelo however it seemed Canelo had done so to himself, meanwhile, the middle rounds were starting to look like a vintage GGG fight with pressure and heavy shots coming at Canelo – BOMBS AWAY! I thought he won the 6th handedly!
Now halfway through the fight what your eyes were seeing seemed to be supported by CompuBox data – by the 6th, GGG was pulling ahead slightly landing more power shots by a margin of 49-45.
I’ve watched the fight twice now, once live where I mostly just enjoyed the action and took a few notes. I then watched again strictly from the perspective of scoring and I have a feeling the 7th round may become controversial. GGG had a good round, he pressured but Canelo seemed to get a second wind and countered well in spots, not a clear one for me so I had round seven a draw. Many are now angered by Don Trella’s card who scored that round for Canelo. Had it been scored for GGG which I have no problem with – or 10-10 as I had it that would have ensured GGG’s razor-thin split decision win. Again, we’ll get into the scores later!
The action in round eight was less consistent than the previous rounds, and still absent was GGG’s famous body punching, perhaps he was leerily of being countered over the top in combination which Canelo is more than capable of doing however GGG took the eighth round I believe and was beginning to build a lead. A fighter as intelligent as he is with his amateur experience would be very hard to win rounds against! Canelo landed a beautiful upper cut on GGG and that was probably the best punch landed of that round however Canelo’s output remained inconsistent.
In round nine GGG had his best round since the sixth and Canelo seemed to fade slightly again! GGG came forward walking through Canelo’s shots and landed his own though Canelo proved in this round and throughout the fight that he has an underrated chin! Canelo was still able to roll many shots effectively and proved that he learned a tremendous amount from his loss to Floyd Mayweather. However, this was fast becoming GGG’s kind of fight and he took round nine convincingly.
Round 10, like round five was one of the more action packed with the two men trading shots and getting into a bit of a gun show! It made for fantastic viewing and the T-Mobile arena was once again on its feet! Canelo hung tough and seemed to get a third wind! He was holding more to rest and smother GGG but it still was not enough to keep the Kazakh off of him and GGG took this round as well and comfortably for me!
GGG remained in 5th gear in round 11, the championship rounds are upon us and Canelo continued to battle, however GGG was still generally more consistent. Canelo did make GGG miss as he continued to head hunt. It was a close round and I called this round a draw as well!
The feeling going into the 12th round must have been a sense of considerable anxiety for the Reynoso brothers, it seemed a lock for GGG, Canelo would have needed a knockout to win. Whether Canelo believed he was down on the cards or not he turned in a tremendous effort as did GGG, they stood toe to toe for much of the round and Canelo eked it out for me as GGG was uncharacteristically sloppy, he was swinging for the fences and missing. Canelo won the final round in my opinion!
Vegas Gunna Vegas
When the three judges were announced - Adalaide Byrd, Dave Moretti & Don Trella the selection of the first two elicited as collective grown from many hardcore boxing fans. This screamed Vegas boxing establishment Moretti has scored about eight fights for Canelo and scored them all wide for Canelo besides his loss to Floyd – another Vegas fighter – and even had his score in that fight a puzzling 116-112 for Floyd, still a win but Metcalf’s score in that fight was the correct one!
In this fight Byrd had the most shocking score of 118-110 for Canelo…in other words GGG won only two rounds.
When I think of generous strangers Santa Claus springs to mind and one would need someone of that level of extreme almost perverse generosity to find eight rounds that Canelo won convincingly. Just looking at rounds five and six only, rounds where GGG landed a massive right hand in round five and round six where Canelo seemed visibly fatigued she scored both 10-9 for Canelo.
Simply atrocious, as Jim Lampley remarked during post fight commentary he called her score card fiction.
Don Trella’s card was the most respectable, he gave GGG the middle rounds which seemed clearly in his favor as he was turning the tide but gave all of the last three to Canelo plus the 7th round which I believe may become a bone in the throat for many a boxing fans as I previously stated. I've added my card below for reference.
The most frustrating and absurd thing about the aftermath is in a way Oscar de la Hoya.
After jerking us all around – boxing fans and media for the better part of two years promising over and over that this fight would happen even instructing Canelo to vacate his WBC middleweight title rather than fight GGG in May of last year the critics of boxing have a juicy bone indeed to chew on.
And it’s not Canelo’s fault, not the scores last night or anything that has happened in the last two years or arguably his whole career. Canelo is a soldier, he’s always, without exception done what his advisers and management have told him to do. On the one hand, it’s made him a rich man. The disclosed purses for this fight revealed a guaranteed five million for him versus three million for the guy with all the belts!
No, it’s the hypocrisy of Oscar that’s galling.
After stringing us along for years to get this fight made and the drunk-tweets filled with jealousy and bitterness during Mayweather-McGregor Oscar and the Vegas establishment seemed unable to process irony.
After calling Mayweather-McGregor a circus and a farce it was Oscar who straddled the three rings and the clowns piling out to make animal balloons were none other than Moretti, Byrd and Trella.
Boxing does not need to give its critics any more ammunition. Especially in 2017, a year that’s been so special for the sport!
Hopefully, the roar of 90,000 at Wembley can be heard over those fools who say and have said in their ignorance that boxing is dead.
This we know, the only thing promoters like more than a fight that sells is a trilogy that sells.
This was a grueling fight for both men however they have plenty of data to pour over. The questions that need to be answered are considerable – Canelo’s stamina, he fought and was effective in spots only, GGG did the consistent work for most of the fight. GGG’s performance was out of character as well, particularly his body punching or lack thereof – CompuBox tallied just eight punches landed to the body, that is an aberration for a fighter who claims to have the Mexican Style.
Both men will recover and regroup. Cinco de Mayo weekend in 2018 would be an excellent time frame for a rematch and would sell out again just like this fight did!
Canelo could become more comfortable at middleweight and perhaps more telling Gennady Golovkin will be one year older. GGG will be 36 next April and as we all know in boxing father time is undefeated and Canelo has made his bones unseating champion prizefighters approaching or just past their sell-by dates.