LAS VEGAS — Thankfully, Saturday was the end of the rivalry between Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin, because the judges can’t seem to get it right when these two are in the ring.
Alvarez scored a one-sided victory over Golovkin in their rubber match at T-Mobile Arena, earning a unanimous decision to retain his undisputed super middleweight championship.
Alvarez won a reasonable 10 rounds and you could easily give him 11 or even 12 rounds. Golovkin lacked the fire that marked his Hall of Fame career. He threw few punches, never had Alvarez in trouble and didn’t look capable of getting his guns out.
However, Steve Weisfeld and David Sutherland each had Alvarez 115-113, meaning if Golovkin had won another round on Saturday, it would once again have been a tie. And anyone who saw this match knows that it was not a draw. These scores are extremely bad, almost as bad as Adalaide Byrd’s 118-110 card in favor of Canelo from 2017.
Dave Moretti, one of the best judges of all time, had it 116-112, which was very close, but at least it wasn’t a round away from a draw.
The build-up was marked by hostility as the two exchanged taunts. Alvarez repeatedly said he was going for the knockout because he didn’t care how Golovkin talked about him. And Alvarez was indeed throwing fastballs at Golovkin early on, looking for the shot.
It never came, but he beat Golovkin well and the scores made it look like a cliffhanger. It was a cliffhanger in the same way that the 1940 NFL championship game was a cliffhanger when the Bears beat the Redskins, 73-0.
Golovkin was never in this fight and never gave Alvarez a hint of trouble. But then, he was happy with his game plan.
“Strategy,” he said of his return. “In the second half, I don’t feel bad. It’s a good fight.”
Golovkin is one of the real good guys in boxing, but I’m sorry. It wasn’t a good fight. You got more than your money’s worth if you bought the 2017 and 2018 games against each other, but you gave a lot of it away on Saturday. It wasn’t competitive, it had little ebb and there was no trace of drama.
But the judges… man.
There are epically bad scores in this sport from time to time, and Weissfeld and Sutherland’s cards, in particular, fall into that ignoble realm.
The sad part is that it took away from what Alvarez accomplished. He said he seriously injured his left hand during the match, but it was difficult to distinguish during the match.
When it was over, they hugged and talked for a long time in the center of the ring. After DAZN finished their interviews with them, they shook hands and hugged again. It was good to see that the top level athletes could put the beef behind them and move on. As Golovkin repeatedly said before the fight, they are professional athletes. Alvarez was polite after the fight, making it look like he was struggling to pull out the win when the reality is anything but.
“Thank you very much my friend, thank you Golovkin, thank you for everything,” Alvarez said. “We gave the fans three good games. Thank you for everything. Thank you very much for your support. I have been through very difficult things in my life. All you can do is keep moving forward. I have had a hard time with my loss. But defeats can show how you can be great, how you can come back and show humility.”
Incredibly, Golovkin swept the last three rounds with Weisfeld’s card and won four of the last five with Sutherland’s. This was a mystery to the vocal crowd and anyone who was paying more than a little attention to what was going on in the ring.
“It didn’t surprise me,” Alvarez said of Golovkin’s late rally. “I know him… He is a strong fighter. For me, I’m glad to share the ring with him. He is a very good fighter. I am happy to take part in this kind of competition.”
Alvarez said Golovkin’s ability prevented him from getting the knockout he promised. He moved to 58-2-2 in one of the most satisfying wins of his career. He landed huge shots on Golovkin throughout, but Golovkin has a legendarily great chin and he used it well. Canelo knew early on that it would be difficult to get rid of his opponent, as he had promised.
“First round, [I knew it would be hard],” Alvarez said of his knockout hopes. “I knew he was tough. He is a tough fighter. I need surgery. My left hand is not good. But I’m good. I am a warrior. That’s why I’m here. I can’t hold a glass. It is very bad. But I’m a warrior.”
Over the course of his career and over three fights with Golovkin, he proved that.
And that’s not to minimize Golovkin’s career, because he’s one of the best to ever do it and should be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame the moment he becomes eligible. But he didn’t win Saturday’s race and it wasn’t close enough.
The judges gave him a gift. They made it seem closer than it was. They made an explosion look like a barn. Luckily the right one won.
That wasn’t always the case in this series.