The Triple G vs. Canelo showdown dwindled into a Big Drama Draw instead of the ‘show’ expected from a “Mexican style” fighter and a Mexican proper fighter. The champion who was labeled as one of the most avoided boxers needed a defining fight to meet fans expectations.
Canelo had already faced notable big names up to junior middleweight but had trouble making that weight or finding worthy opponents. Team Golovkin had issued several challenges after Alvarez usurped the middleweight class and somehow got a major title. Triple G needed a big fight desperately while Canelo’s problem was finding credible opponents; his status and following guaranteed him topnotch pay days anytime he wanted them.
Golovkin had been flirting for several years with the Mexican fan base trying to accumulate the following he deserved and the industry demanded. The system works with balance and turnover, sporting perfection and pure craftsmanship belong at the Olympic Games. His team had long ago realized that boxing excellence is not enough for high profile fights in the corporate environment. Team Golovkin had a smart strategy to stay afloat; they created a boxing persona for their talented charge. He was required to carry lesser opponents for several rounds, take punches deliberately and create artificial intrigue and drama. He deliberately took a shot to land a shot and rarely used full power. In spite of his impressive reign at middleweight, GGG needed a marquee fight and the pay day that comes with it to substantiate his career. All the playacting in the ring was properly advertised as “Big Drama Show”. The hardcore boxing skills and natural tough guy mentality of Gennady made things easier. His native Kazakhstan could not provide him with a meaningful following so he chose to identify with the largest and most recognizable fan base in the world in order to market his mastery. He might really like Mexican food along with all other things Mexican on his like list.
Saul Alvarez was sort of “born with a silver spoon” in boxing terms. His countrymen are the backbone of boxing in America and Canelo naturally became their icon, mainly due to the lack of other eligible candidates. Carrying the sporting hopes of a nation is always a burden and this particular icon has outstanding skills but there is absolutely nothing special about his boxing ability. He is a brave and honest warrior who rarely needed “ringside assistance” but received it promptly. One Erislandy Lara from Cuba simply outclassed Alvarez in 2014 and barely gave him two or three rounds. The Cuban out boxed Canelo even more comprehensively than Mayweather but lost by an SD.
Following is a round by round conspectus of the Golovkin-Alvarez showdown including punch stats and an attempt to score it. Boxing isn’t about counting punches but punch volume is a factor and it should be the most important factor in determining the winner of a fist fight that goes the distance.
Round 1: Canelo’s intentions became clear as he started the fight in survival mode. It wasn’t a blatant “cover up and run” refusal but a somewhat veiled and masked strategy of spoiling and frustrating the opponent. GGG dictated the tempo and controlled the pace because the opponent let him and he went forward applying constant pressure. Alvarez moved away and countered with quick arm punches keeping his focus on defense and mobility. The official punch stats were 15/10 for Golovkin. My criteria is a little different – 7/6 for Golovkin. Based on overall activity and punch numbers, Golovkin won it 10:9.
2: Alvarez started moving more aggressively and stood his ground against the champion’s pressure throwing sharp combos with better body movement and angles. GGG fought a carbon copy of the 1st round but fell short. The official punch count was 14-12 Canelo, 10/9 round for Canelo.
3. Golovkin went to work with his famed jab following up with left hooks landing 8 punches in the opening seconds. Canelo was startled and needed a half a round to find any rhythm in his work. He answered with a couple of clean shots but worked for less than a minute in the whole round. Official tally was 15-13 Golovkin, I saw it 27-12 for him. Clear round for Golovkin.
4. A better start for Alvarez who took the initiative and stood his ground landing on equal terms with the champion. He worked for almost two minutes before he went back to leaning on the ropes and waiting. Stats were 18-13 for Golovkin but based on activity and variety I’d give the round to Canelo.
5. After taking the previous round off, the champion used total boxing on Canelo who simply retreated and reacted to the pressure. He threw single counters and tried to buy time by grimacing and shaking his head at the opponent after he got hit. Punch numbers were 18-14 for Golovkin, his round.
6. A crisp start for Canelo but he slowed down after one minute. His main objective was not to get hurt so he exaggerated his defensive movement to an extent which made counter punching ineffective. Punch stats were 16-15 for Golovkin who easily took the round.
7. A safety-first round for Alvarez who openly ran and tried to keep Triple G off and away. Stats were 16-12 for Golovkin who won the round.
8. Canelo simply did not want this round; he had several bursts but merely weathered Golovkin’s offense and kept his distance. Stas were 21-11 for Golovkin and he won the round by a mile.
9. Another big round for Golovkin, Canelo fought back more often than the previous round. Punch stats: 24-13 for Golovkin.
10. Alvarez came out of survival mode and started fighting in earnest for the first time. He put weight and footing behind his shots, threw combination and basically matched Golovkin’s assault. Canelo even sent GGG off balance after landing a combo and ducking an angry counter. The challenger was able to finally choose his direction of movement and had the initiative for half of the round. Stats were 23-18 for Golovkin but due to quality and initiative I believe Canelo took this round.
11. Golovkin seemed happy he finally had a fight on his hands. Canelo’s game effort from the previous round was stifled by the total boxing applied from the champ. Golovkin was not just more powerful, his range, timing and generalship were all superior and Alvarez did well to just stay out of harm’s way. Stats were 17-13 for Golovkin and a clear round for him.
12. Canelo had been pacing himself and he came all out in the last round. He threw a lot of leather knowing he needed a KO to win. His best effort lasted for half a round. Golovkin stamped his authority again and evened things out with heavier punches in the second half. Stats for the round were 23-23. I’d give this round to Canelo for variety.
My final score is 4 rounds for Alvarez and 8 rounds for Golovkin or 116:112 for Gennady Golovkin. Offifcial punch stats showed 218:169 for GGG.
The official draw favored mainly the sports betting entities and left a bad taste almost everywhere else. In view of the recent blatant injustices in the Pacquiao-Horn and Kovalev-Ward fights, this result will not hurt the sport and will be soon forgotten