Canelo Ekes Out Rematch Win Over Golovkin

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Kieran Mulvaney

LAS VEGAS – This time there was a winner.

Twelve months after leaving this same T-Mobile Arena with a controversial draw after a fight that many ringside felt opponent Gennady Golovkin had won, Canelo Alvarez edged the rematch by taking a majority decision win on scorecards that accurately reflected the extreme closeness of a contest fought with tremendous skill and will over 12 high-caliber rounds.

Judge Glenn Feldman saw the contest as a draw. But he was marginally overruled by Steve Weisfeld and Dave Moretti, who had it for Alvarez by the slimmest of margins: 115-113, seven rounds to five. While each fighter can point to a handful rounds that he won, the winning margins even within most of those rounds were razor-thin. It is entirely possible that the result may ultimately have come down to just one or two clear, clean punches that were enough to earn Canelo a round and, thus, the fight.

If there was a consensus expectation among professional predictors during fight week, it was that this time Alvarez, despite his promises that he would knock Golovkin out, would move around the ring, seek to avoid exchanges, and look to box. It didn’t take long for that prediction to go up in smoke.

At the first bell, Golovkin marched forward to center ring. Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) marched forward to meet him; and there he stayed for much of the fight. Indeed, for long stretches, Canelo was the one stalking forward and looking to dig power punches inside; Golovkin, uncharacteristically, circled and retreated, trying to keep his foe at range.

The bout effectively unfolded in three acts.

Over the first four rounds, the contest was close, even and largely cagey, Golovkin edging the segment primarily by being busier and more accurate with the jab, and by rounds three and four beginning to add body punches to the mix as he loosened up. The middle act, which Golovkin had won comprehensively a year ago, this time went almost equally strongly to Alvarez, who began to let loose with power punches in the fifth, and tore into Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) in the sixth and seventh, unleashing uppercuts to the Kazakh’s body and head as the older man showed signs of apparent wear, at one point retreating in seeming discomfort from the Mexican’s relentless body assault. 

Part way through the eighth, however, Golovkin appeared to press the reset button, and emerged from the ninth evidently aware of the need for greater urgency. Suddenly, Golovkin looked lighter on his feet, pivoting into position to land fierce punches to Canelo’s head. A right hand from Golovkin sent spray flying from Canelo’s head, and then the Kazakh knocked his opponent to the ropes and zeroed in with badly-intentioned combinations. Canelo responded, fighting Golovkin back to the center of the ring before Golovkin responded with two fierce hooks. In the 11th, Canelo’s back was against the ropes on a consistent basis for the first time in the fight, and his head movement, which had enabled him to slip much of Golovkin’s assault early, was almost non-existent. Again, however, Canelo dug deep at the end of the round; and in the 12th, the two men battled weariness as much as each other, forcing themselves to continue flinging punches at each other as the crowd of 21,965 roared. Weisfeld and Moretti gave that round to Canelo, which was enough to seal a 115-113 result on both their cards and avoid another draw.

“I’m very excited, very emotional,” said a relieved Canelo, who had been nursing a cut above his left eye since early in the contest. “It was a great fight, but at the end we got the victory for Mexico. He didn’t hit me a lot. I’m a great fighter, and I showed it tonight. If the people want it, we’ll do it again. For now, I want to rest. But we’ll do it again for sure.”

“I’m not going to say who won tonight,” responded Golovkin. “Because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges. I thought it was a very fun fight for the fans. I thought I fought better than he did.”

“We had a great fight, the one we expected the first time around,” added Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez. “I had it close going into the 12th. 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 good fight. Congratulations.”

Undercard Report: Undefeated Munguia Keeps Rolling Against Overwhelmed Cook

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Eric Raskin

Jaime Munguia makes it easy for fight fans to latch onto him and get excited. Still three weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, the Mexican junior middleweight is 31-0 with 26 knockouts and refuses to be part of a dull round of boxing. And there’s no busier world-class fighter in the sport: He’s scored five victories in 2018 – and left himself time to try for a sixth.

Munguia got through quickly and easily enough against Brandon Cook in the final bout on the Golovkin-Alvarez 2 undercard that he could feasibly return within the next couple of months. Too big, too energetic, and too strong, the massive 154-pounder from Tijuana stopped Cook 63 seconds into the third round. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to save the Canadian fighter, who’d been knocked down moments earlier, following an avalanche of head and body punches along the ropes.

As dominant as he was, Munguia didn’t look sharp at all times. He frequently missed wildly or lunged in with his punches. But the 32-year-old Cook (20-2, 13 KOs) didn’t have the tools to make him pay. And by the end of the first round, when Munguia landed a right hand to the head and proceeded to tee off along the ropes until the bell rang, the younger man was in complete control.

Cook fought bravely, and at times aggressively, but his left eye was swelling and his flanks were targeted repeatedly. Munguia pummeled him in the corner at the end of the second round the same way he had in the first, then did serious damage in the third. He dropped Cook by landing big shots with both hands during an exchange about 30 seconds into the round. Cook rose, but he couldn’t keep the bigger man off and was hunched over and clearly out of his depth when Weeks made the decision to stop the fight. 

It was just the rebound performance Munguia was looking for after being taken the distance by Liam Smith in July.

“In each fight, you see what you did well, what you didn’t do so well, you learn from each fight, and you implement it in the next one,” Munguia said afterward. 

Munguia nearly landed a fight with Gennady Golovkin in May, and while he admits he has learning to do, he says he’s ready to pounce on an opportunity against either GGG or Canelo Alvarez if offered. “If it comes on the table again,” Munguia insisted, “I’ll take the fight.”

Undercard Report: Lemieux Finishes the War of Words With His Fists

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Kieran Mulvaney

The war of words between David Lemieux and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan lasted several weeks. Their battle inside the ring was over in under three minutes. Lemieux came out of his corner at the opening bell, looking to inflict damage, firing fast flurries to head and body. O’Sullivan, meanwhile, held his hands raised high and tight to his face, eyeing an opportunity to land a telling blow of his own.

That opportunity never arrived: O’Sullivan (28-3, 20 KOs) was able to throw only 25 punches, landing just eight; Lemieux, in contrast, threw 79, and landed 22 of them. The only one that really mattered, though, was the final one:  a left hook that exploded on O’Sullivan’s jaw just as the Irishman was connecting with a glancing jab to the Canadian’s face. O’Sullivan, about to unleash a right hand, saw his punch sail harmlessly over his opponent’s head as he tumbled down to his knees and then flat on the canvas, face-first. He hauled himself uncertainly back to his hands and knees, and looked up at referee Russell Mora, who waved off the contest without completing a count. The time was 2:44 of Round 1.

O’Sullivan continued to look dazed and confused, even as he stood up, with Mora placing a protective arm around his shoulder as Lemieux (40-4, 34 KOs) celebrated.

“I felt great,” said the winner in the ring afterward. “I’m in superb shape. I always like to give the fans a good fight, so I hope you’re happy. I was motivated by all the trash talk. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to talk trash. I respect my opponents. I keep it all in the ring.”

Undercard Report: Chocolatito Gets Back On Winning Track With Brutal KO

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Eric Raskin

The losing streak is over – and in emphatic fashion. Former four-division (and pound-for-pound) champ Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez scored his first victory in more than two years and flashed some of the old offensive brilliance as he disposed of Moises Fuentes with a vicious right hand in the fifth round of the GGG-Canelo 2 undercard opener.

This was the Chocolatito’s first bout in nearly 12 months, following back-to-back losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai – the first by controversial decision, the second by brutal fourth-round KO. Now 31 years old, questions swirled. Did the Nicaraguan have anything left? 

It may have something to do with the opposition, but against Fuentes (25-6-1, 14 KOs), an easy target, the answer was yes. After a tentative start to the fight, Gonzalez started opening up in the final 30 seconds of the first round and never slowed down from there. A head clash opened a cut over Fuentes’ right eye in the second round, and the blood was clearly bothering him. Gonzalez’s nonstop combinations to the body and head only exacerbated his problems.

A left hook in the third nearly dropped Fuentes, but he stayed up after dipping low. He had no such recuperative powers in round five, when a sizzling right to the chin knocked the Mexican veteran unconscious before he even hit the canvas. It may be a Knockout of the Year contender – and for Chocolatito (47-2, 39 KOs), hopefully the start of a memorable comeback in the talent-loaded super flyweight division.

The Fight Game: Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin Lookback

The Fight Game with Jim Lampley looks back at last year’s controversial draw between Canelo and Golovkin. The Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin mega-rematch starts tonight at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on HBO PPV.

Watch: Canelo-Golovkin 2 Weigh-in Recap

HBO Boxing recaps the Canelo vs. Golovkin weigh-in ahead of their highly anticipated rematch. Canelo vs. Golovkin happens Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on HBO PPV.

PODCAST: Canelo-GGG 2 Radio Row Day 2 (Ep 276)

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney are live from Radio Row in Las Vegas for their final day of GGG-Canelo 2 prefight podcasting, welcoming trainer Abel Sanchez, HBO expert analyst Roy Jones, and boxing journalist Gordon Marino, and also covering the weigh-in and breaking down the betting odds.

Weigh-in Recap and Slideshow: Alvarez and Golovkin Go Head-to-Head Before Rematch

By Kieran Mulvaney

LAS VEGAS - And so, finally, twelve months after Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez battled to a hard-fought and controversial draw; four months after they were initially scheduled to meet in a rematch; and seven months after that rematch was jeopardized and ultimately postponed by Alvarez testing positive for clenbuterol, the two men are just hours away from going toe-to-toe again.

The road from initial bout to rematch began and will end at the T-Mobile Arena, but it has been a long, winding, contentious and ill-tempered one. Neither man was satisfied with the verdict rendered by the three ringside judges last September; by the time they agreed to terms for a do-over, they had already grown weary of and irritated by each other. Their moods have not improved since then: Golovkin was incensed by Canelo’s positive test, Canelo was infuriated by Golovkin’s repeated characterization of him as a drugs cheat, Golovkin was irritated by Canelo’s sense of grievance, and meanwhile, the two men’s respective trainers sniped at each other from the sidelines. So high did the tension ratchet that not until Friday’s weigh-in did the two men stand face-to-face, the first time they had looked each other in the eye since a promotional event in February, when they seemed set to face off on May 5, in the good old days when their mutual antipathy revolved around events inside the ring rather than outside it.

And when they did meet, the tensions that had been simmering for months immediately boiled over. After the two men had stepped on the scale, Alvarez marched directly toward Golovkin, pushing his forehead onto his rival’s. Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, immediately stepped in between the fighters, and Golovkin stared impassively before turning his back as Canelo’s trainers Chepo and Eddie Reynoso shouted angrily at him and Sanchez.

“I got excited by seeing all the people in the crowd,” said Alvarez afterward, by way of explanation of his actions. “It motivated me.”

“He is like a clown,” sniffed Golovkin.

“I defeated him at the weigh-in and I’ll defeat him tomorrow night,” insisted Canelo.

“I want to knock him out,” said Golovkin.

Twenty-four hours from now, each man will have the chance to prove himself right, and to bring a year of venom and spite to a definitive conclusion.

Weights from Las Vegas:

Canelo Alvarez 159.4 pounds.

Gennady Golovkin 159.6 pounds.

Jaime Munguia 154 pounds.

Brandon Cook 153.2 pounds.

David Lemieux 160 pounds.

Spike O’Sullivan 159.2 pounds.

Chocolatito Gonzalez 114.8 pounds.

Moises Fuentes 116 pounds.