LAS VEGAS: Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin fought 24 rounds in the space of a year, with little to pick between them.
When the scorecards were totalled on Saturday night, though, the judges crowned a new middleweight champion of the world but just barely.
Alvarez won the 160-pound titles held by Golovkin by the narrowest of margins, taking a majority decision to hand the longtime champion his first loss as a pro in a spirited fight that had a sold out crowd roaring.
Two judges gave Alvarez the final round, allowing him to pull out the win.
A year after the two fought to a draw, the second fight was almost as close. There were no knockdowns, but the action was spirited throughout as the two battled to the final bell before a frenzied crowd at the T-Mobile Arena.
Two judges favored Alvarez 115-113, while a third had it 114-114.
The fight, in front of a sellout, celebrity-studded crowd that included Mike Tyson, actor Will Smith and basketballer LeBron James at T-Mobile Arena, lived up to its billing as the best two pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Golovkin landed some big blows to the head in the closing rounds, opening a cut above Alvares’ left eye, but the Mexican prevailed to improve his career record to 50-1-2, including 34 knockouts.
Golovkin fell to 38-1-1, with 34 knockouts.
It was his first defeat since the 2005 world amateur championships.
“It was a very tight fight,” said Alvarez in a ringside interview after becoming the WBC, WBA, IBO and Ring Magazine world champion.
“I looked for a knockout but it’s difficult. He’s a great fighter but in the end I got the victory. I’m very excited, very emotional. I want to thank everyone who believes in me. This is for them and long live Mexico.”
Kazakh Golovkin, 36, thought he had perhaps done enough to get the decision and opened the door for a possible third installment.
“I’m not going to say who won tonight, because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges,” he said. “I thought it was a very good fight for the fans, and very exciting. I thought I fought better than he did.”
When asked about a third fight, he said: “Under the right conditions, yes.”
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2018