BOXING

Canelo Wins Close Fight With Golovkin; Chocolatito Returns

Canelo Alvarez Edges Gennady Golovkin in Thrilling Rematch

Once again, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin waged an incredibly competitive, highly skilled and rather entertaining battle for the middleweight championship. And once again, those who watched the fight were left debating the outcome.

But this time, it was Canelo Alvarez who left the ring as the winner.

Alvarez took a razor-thin majority decision over Golovkin, building an early lead, weathering a spirited comeback, digging deep in the final round and securing the victory.

One judge had it 114-114, six rounds apiece, awarding Golovkin the 12th round. The other two judges favored Alvarez in those final three minutes, making him the 115-113 winner, or seven rounds to five.

Had they instead given Round 12 to GGG — and arguments can be made for both men — then the rematch would’ve once again been a draw. (Their first fight, which took place nearly a year to the day, ended with one judge scoring it for Canelo, one judge for Golovkin, and the third judge seeing it even.)

There had been so much heated rhetoric between the two over the past year — bitterness about the draw in the first fight, about Adalaide Byrd’s ridiculous 118-110 scorecard for Canelo, about the postponement of their rematch when Canelo tested positive for a banned substance also occasionally found in beef in Mexico, and about the two camps just not liking each other — that it was somewhat surprising to see the rematch begin as a jabbing contest.

Yet it was indeed an intense jabbing contest that dominated the opening three minutes, neither man letting passion and sentiment overcome patience and strategy. They stood in front of each other, Alvarez also looking for the occasional left hook as a body shot or a counter. They combined for a mere four power punches in the round.

All the jabbing from Canelo did two things. It brought a bit of redness from around Golovkin’s right eye, visible early in the second round. And it set up a nice left hook lead, as he feinted with a jab, feigned throwing a left hook to the body instead, but then redirected the shot upstairs to the head.

Alvarez was up two rounds to one across the board after the first three rounds, all three judges giving Golovkin the first, and Alvarez the second and third.

In the first fight, Alvarez had started off strong with boxing and counterpunching, but he’d ultimately slowed down in the middle rounds, moving more to the ropes, and getting outworked by Golovkin.

This time, Alvarez was intent to stand in front of GGG, though he wasn’t there to take punches, even if his chin held up well against Golovkin’s vaunted power. He at times pushed Golovkin back, attempting to take away Golovkin’s power and take Golovkin out of his comfort zone. He still wasn’t outworking Golovkin, but he’d increased the pace to the point that Golovkin’s mouth was often open. Alvarez showed improved stamina, and he also went to the body repeatedly to try to tire Golovkin.

Golovkin responded, winning the fourth round on the judges’ cards and opening a cut over Canelo’s left eye. Alvarez continued to pound away at the body — he’d land 46 body shots on the night, according to CompuBox, while Golovkin scored with just six.

In the seventh round, Alvarez began to bring those hooks a little farther up, aiming for Golovkin’s chest. He mixed in right uppercuts, jabs, left hooks upstairs, right hands to the body. Golovkin is 36 years old. Alvarez is 28. Canelo was trying to make the older fighter age mid-fight. It seemed as if that would be the case. Canelo won the round clearly, even if one judge somehow saw it for Golovkin.

Trainer Abel Sanchez told Golovkin that he was losing, trying to inspire him to take over. Yet it was still Canelo starting off stronger in the eighth round. Golovkin had his moments and finished the round with a pair of good right hands. Again, two judges gave the round to Canelo while one had it for Golovkin.

Golovkin wasn’t going away without a fight.

“That’s the kind of round I want,” Sanchez told him before Round 9 began. “You gotta keep working him the whole round.”

This time, it was Golovkin starting the ninth stronger and Alvarez responding in kind. Once more, Canelo got the nod from two judges while Golovkin picked up the round from the third.

That meant it was 87-84, six rounds to three on all three scorecards going into the 10th round.

“He’s done. He’s done,” Canelo’s corner told him.

Golovkin wasn’t done.

It was Golovkin winning the 10th, doing more and doing better even as Alvarez continued to retaliate and score. The 11th round saw Golovkin finally force Alvarez to spend a little time along the ropes. Alvarez rallied at the end of the round, though not enough to pick up the points.

They had no way of knowing it — though they may have suspected it was close — but the fight hinged on the 12th and final round.

All three judges had it 105-104, six rounds to Canelo and five for Golovkin. Canelo needed to win the round to win. Golovkin needed to win the round to get a draw. Winning the round with a knockdown would give him the win.

Golovkin landed a good left hook in the opening moments, then slammed a huge right uppercut into Canelo’s chin some 25 seconds in. Canelo withstood it and roared back, exchanging punches, taking a left hook and then returning fire with five or six blows of his own, each man trying to end the night more emphatically than the other.

The bell rang. They embraced, their bad blood momentarily dissipated, replaced with respect. They waited for the scores.

Canelo Alvarez was announced as the winner. Golovkin, believing he’d won again and gotten ripped off by the judges once more, went to his dressing room, skipping the post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman.

You could understand why Golovkin was upset. But the result was fair, even if there are still many out there arguing otherwise.

The judges unanimously agreed on eight of the 12 rounds. The action was close throughout, not just in the four rounds where the judges disagreed.

Anyone unofficially scoring the fight, whether from in the arena or the comfort of home, needs to take note of rounds that they scored for one man but could conceivably have gone to the other.

For example, you could score a fight seven rounds to five for Golovkin, but have seen two of Golovkin’s rounds as being very close, and one of Canelo’s rounds as being the same. That means your 115-113 scorecard for Golovkin could create an acceptable range, from as wide as 116-112 for Golovkin all the way to a 115-113 win for Canelo instead.

Not every close fight is a controversial one. Sometimes they’re just close fights where the decision is debatable. Rational observers can end up scoring a close win for Golovkin, and they can end up scoring a close win for Canelo.

In this case, it’s Canelo leaving with the victory, moving to 50-1-2 with 34 knockouts on the strength of a very good performance against a very good opponent. But Golovkin, who suffered his first pro defeat and is now 38-1-1 with 34 KOs, also proved that he still has what it takes to be neck and neck with the younger, clearly talented Alvarez.

That’s little consolation at the moment for Golovkin, who saw his extended streak of middleweight title defenses come to an end. He can hope for a third fight with Canelo, given that there’s still plenty of money to be made from the rivalry, though he may also have to accept lesser terms in negotiations.

He could also bounce back by establishing himself as the clear No. 2 for now, testing himself against a cohort of good contenders in Jermall Charlo, Ryota Murata, Demetrius Andrade, titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, or the winner of the upcoming fight between Daniel Jacobs (whom Golovkin edged in early 2017) and Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

All of those opponents are also out there for Canelo, who remains one of the biggest box office attractions in the sport today, an additional selling point for any 160-pounder who want a shot at being seen as the true middleweight champion.

There are very good fights to be made involving very good fighters. The more of these fights that happen, the better.

 

Roman Gonzalez Returns From Devastating Knockout, Takes Out Fuentes

A year ago, the fighter once seen as the best boxer in the world was left in an unfamiliar position: flat on his back, out cold.

This past Saturday, Roman Gonzalez came back to do something he’d never needed to do before — rebuild.

Gonzalez returned to the ring for the first time in 371 days, scoring a fifth-round knockout of Moises Fuentes.

This fight was meant to be a confidence builder. “Chocolatito” began to find his old form in the second round, amping up his activity, going from 60 punches thrown in the first round to 105 in the second. An uppercut opened up a cut over Fuentes’ right eye.

It didn’t get any better for Fuentes.

The former 105-pound titleholder and 108-pound challenger was essentially done with boxing at the age of 30. He’d declined considerably since fighting to a draw with the fantastic Donnie Nietes back in 2013, getting knocked out by Nietes in their rematch a year later, and coming up on the losing end of subsequent title shots, getting stopped in five rounds by Kosei Tanaka at the end of 2016, and failing to make it out of the first round against Daigo Higa earlier this year.

According to HBO’s broadcast commentators, Fuentes had taken this fight so he could buy another vehicle as an Uber driver.

Fuentes still had a fighter’s pride, though, and he tried to battle back. That’s what brought his night to an end. Gonzalez had backed Fuentes into a corner. Gonzalez threw a left hook upstairs. Fuentes began to respond with a right hand. Gonzalez landed a short right hand first, putting Fuentes down for the count.

Gonzalez is now 47-2 with 39 KOs, a record built up as he plowed through the 105, 108 and 112-pound divisions, then moved up to 115 with a competitive title win over Carlos Cuadras. His first loss came next, against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in early 2017, though it had come via controversial decision. There was no debating the knockout loss to Sor Rungvisai in their rematch last year.

That left many wondering whether Gonzalez’s action-friendly style had taken too much out of him, whether he was now on the decline or perhaps just needed to drop back down to the 112-pound division.

This fight took place at 115 pounds. We’ll see where Gonzales goes from here. It’s too soon to imagine him in another title fight, however. No matter his next opponent, expect him to be back in early 2019.

Fuentes is now 25-6-1 with 14 KOs.

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman. David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and "Fighting Words" columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book "Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing." Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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