The debate will rage long into boxing history as it did into the night in Sin City.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez claimed a majority decision victory over bitter rival Gennady Golovkin in the most talked-about fight in the United States this year, as the Mexican took the No 1 middleweight world title spot in what proved to be a second, compelling, back-and-forth struggle against the Kazakh in the entertainment capital of the world.
The first fight had been controversial for its improbably drawn verdict, with Golovkin the clear victor, but this second edition was a much closer fight. A rematch had been scheduled for May 5, cancelled when Alvarez failed two drug tests for the performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol which led to a suspension of six months from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Alvarez was far more aggressive this time, planting his feet and attempting to take the centre of the ring, landing heavier punches.
Golovkin was more effective with his jab, landing more punches over the 12-round battle in which both men were cut around the eyes.
Given the closeness of the contest and the match up of styles, there is every reason to believe the two elite fighters may yet agree to have a third fight. It may come down to whether the older man by eight years, Golovkin, is willing to put his body through the mill again.
The victory for Alvarez drew to an end Golovkin’s undefeated 39-fight streak and historic record of 20 middleweight title defences, shared with 160-pound legend Bernard Hopkins, a member of Alvarez’s promotional team.
The judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld scored the fight 115-113 for Alvarez – effectively seven rounds to five. The third judge, Glenn Feldman scored it 114-114, six rounds apiece. Moretti and Weisfeld’s assessment that Alvarez won the 12th round – Feldman had it for Triple G – effectively gave the Mexican the spoils. It was that close, that debatable. The Telegraph scored it 116-112 for Golovkin, eight rounds to four.
“I showed my victory with facts. He was the one who was backing up,” said Alvarez, outlining that he had planned to be more aggressive than in their first encounter. “I feel satisfied because I gave a great fight. It was a clear victory.”
There was no complaint from Golovkin’s team afterwards, though the defeated champion left the T-Mobile Arena immediately after the scores were made public. “I can’t complain. That’s what we have the judges for,” commented Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer.
“We had a great fight, the one we expected the first time around. I had it close going into the 12th round. We had good judges who saw it from different angles. I can’t complain about the decision, but it’s close enough to warrant a third fight. Canelo fought a great fight.”
Golovkin said later that he would consider a third contest. The fight was close on the cards, and close on statistics. CompuBox statistics had counter-puncher Alvarez landing 202 of 622 punches with Golovkin landing 234 of 879, outscoring 28-year-old Alvarez in eight of the 12 rounds. “It was a great fight, but in the end, it was a victory for Mexico,” said Alvarez. “I want to shout out to my opponent, the best in the sport of boxing. If the people want another round, I’ll do it again.”
The family of Enzo Calzaghe, the father of former world champion boxer Joe Calzaghe, yesterday issued a statement to say that he remains seriously ill in hospital after false reports of his death emerged at the weekend.
Various reports claimed on Friday that ex-trainer Calzaghe, 69, had passed away, but his niece Carrie issued a statement on social media to deny those claims.
“Enzo Calzaghe my uncle, has not passed away, this is false news, he is alive but very poorly,” she wrote on Facebook on Friday night.