Twelve rounds weren’t enough.
As first announced by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez will meet in the ring again on May 5 (8 PM ET/5 PM PT on HBO PPV), in another attempt to determine definitively who is the best middleweight in the world.
“I am ready to battle Canelo again and am pleased he took this fight,” said Golovkin. “This is the fight the fans and the media want. This is the fight boxing deserves.”
“I’m delighted to once again participate in one of the most important boxing events in history,” added Alvarez. “This second fight is for the benefit and pleasure of all fans who desire to see the best fight the best.”
The rematch comes eight months after they battled to a fiercely-contested draw, in a clash that had been building a head of steam for the best part of two years. In November 2015, Canelo outpointed Miguel Cotto to become the lineal middleweight champion of the world, but he did not receive acclamation as the best middleweight on Earth. That crown sat firmly on the head of Golovkin, who at that stage was riding a 21-bout knockout streak and who had dominated and stopped David Lemieux at New York’s Madison Square Garden the previous month.
After Canelo knocked out Amir Khan in his next fight in May 2016, he beckoned Golovkin, who had been sitting ringside, to step between the ropes.
“I don't fear anyone. We don't come to play in this sport. I fear no one in this sport,” Alvarez insisted; when asked if that meant he would face Golovkin later that year, he said he was willing to do so “Right now. I will put the gloves on again.”
Canelo didn’t fight Golovkin that very moment. Nor did he take him on in his next bout, choosing instead to face Liam Smith in front of 51,000 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Golovkin kept himself busy by beating Dominic Wade in Los Angeles and Kell Brook in London to extend his knockout streak to 23, before being taken the distance for the first time since 2008 in securing a close unanimous decision win over Daniel Jacobs in March 2017.
Five weeks after Golovkin edged Jacobs, Alvarez routed his countryman Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in Las Vegas; again, Golovkin was in attendance, and this time he entered the arena post-fight to his signature “Seven Nation Army” ringwalk music, as Canelo proclaimed that “Golovkin, you are next, my friend.”
Finally, the fight that the boxing world had been waiting for was at hand. Given their styles, the strength and their skills, their collision seemed destined to be an enthralling one, and so it proved when they met in the ring on September 16. For the first couple of rounds, Canelo used surprisingly effective footwork and hard uppercuts to befuddle Golovkin, but by the second quarter of the contest, the Kazakh was dialed in, driving relentlessly toward the Mexican, battering him into the ropes and constantly thudding him with powerful jabs and short hooks and right hands. By the seventh, Canelo looked weary and possibly on the verge of being stopped; with nine rounds completed, his trainer Eddie Reynoso informed him in no uncertain terms that he needed to produce the best three rounds of his life. He did, digging his toes into the canvas and raking Golovkin with fearsome power punches, fighting his way desperately back into the contest. At the conclusion of the twelfth and final round, the fans in attendance roared their appreciation of a momentous prizefight and, particularly, of Golovkin, who was widely judged to have emerged the victor – by a far finer margin than had appeared likely entering the tenth round, certainly, but the victor anyway.
Judge Dave Moretti saw it that way also, scoring Golovkin a 115-113 winner. His colleague Don Trella had it closer, a 114-114 draw. But Adalaide Byrd inexplicably cast her lot 118-110 in favor of Alvarez, producing a split decision draw that did not sit well with what had become a partisan, pro-Kazakh crowd.
The furor over Byrd’s card obscured a sensational display of brave and skillful boxing by two of the very best in the business. It also drowned out the questions that were being asked even as the sound of the final bell echoed around the arena: Had Golovkin deserved more for his apparent mid-rounds superiority? If Canelo had emptied his tank to secure a draw, what hope could he have of ever beating his rival? Conversely, had his storming final three rounds shown that he had ultimately figured out his opponent and that he would be able to tame him in a rematch?
“I didn’t agree with the judges’ decision last September, but I will ensure that this time there is no doubt for anyone that I am the undisputed middleweight champion of the world,” insisted Golovkin.
“This time, Golovkin won’t have any excuses regarding the judges,” countered Alvarez, “because I’m coming to knock him out.”
For months, boxing fans have been debating who really deserved to win the first encounter, and which of the two is truly the best middleweight in the world. The only way for to know for sure is for the two men to meet again and do it one more time. On May 5, they will.