Canelo Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) did just enough to beat Gennadiy Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs) by a narrow 12 round unanimous decision on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Golovkin, 40, looked sluggish early on, possibly feeling the effects of the move to the 168-lb division. Whatever the case, Golovkin wasn’t letting his hands go in the first half of the fight and basically gave the rounds to Canelo by default.
The difference in hand speed for Canelo appeared to make Golovkin hesitant to let his hands go from rounds one through seven, as he would have been countered by the Mexican star.
For the most part, Golovkin was content to stay on the outside and jab Canelo and not throw the power shots that he needed for him to win the rounds.
Some would argue that Golovkin was just trying to survive to keep from getting knocked out by Canelo in the first seven rounds.
After the seventh round, Golovkin seemed to realize that he was behind and needed to go all out, which is what he did.
Although Golovkin was busier, wasn’t the same fighter that had fought Canelo twice in 2017 and 2018. Golovkin looked noticeably slower but just as powerful as before.
In the ninth round, Golovkin clipped Canelo with a right hand that stunned him. However, rather than going for the kill, Golovkin opted to play it safe and jab.
A younger Golovkin would have torn into Canelo and attempted to finish him, but not tonight.
From rounds eight through twelve, Golovkin fought well, taking the fight to a tired-looking Canelo to make it closer on the scorecards.
The judges’ scores were 116-112, 115-113, and 115-113.
Golovkin could have done more in the first half to give himself a better shot at winning, but it looked like his advanced age prevented him from letting his hands go the way he needed to.
All in all, this wasn’t the fight that the fans had expected to see. Golovkin looked like a shot 40-year-old, and Canelo showed no improvement from the performance he put in against Dmitry Bivol last May.
The only reason Canelo wasn’t beaten tonight, as he had been by Bivol, is because Golovkin made a mistake of trying to box in the first seven rounds rather than using his power game.
Canelo will need to make a careful decision about whether to fight Bivol again because the way he looked tonight, he’ll lose again.