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.”

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.

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.

Canelo vs. Golovkin 2 Media Predictions

Who will have their hand raised tomorrow? Boxing media members predict who will win #CaneloGGG2. Watch the fight Saturday at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on HBO PPV.

Fight School: The X’s and O’s of Canelo vs. Golovkin 2

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By Gordon Marino

Among recent marquee fights, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s (49-1-2, 34 KOs) much-anticipated pay-per-view rematch rivals that of 2015’s Mayweather-Pacquiao. Two power punching skilled boxers with cast iron chins and blood in the eye for one another is a sure recipe for what GGG famously refers to as a “big drama show.”

Make no mistake about it, Alvarez is boxing’s cash machine and that can carry some sway. When the Mexican super-star was schooled by Floyd Mayweather in 2013, one judge remarkably scored the fight a draw. In his first meeting with Golovkin, one judge came to the surreal verdict that Alvarez had won 10 of the 12 rounds.

Golovkin has notched 18 knockouts in 20 title tussles. Many boxing scribes believe that it would be a mistake for GGG to let the rematch go to the scorecards. This puts some added weight on the knockout artist with the swimmer’s physique. After all, an overeager puncher intent on putting his rival to sleep runs the risk of tensing up and telegraphing his shots; a case in point was Hagler’s loss in 1987 to Sugar Ray Leonard.

Alvarez, who has more experience on the big stage than GGG, will also carry some emotional baggage into the ring. There is the controversy about the verdict in the first fight. That stung, and to drive the barbs even deeper, Canelo was roundly criticized for running rather than fighting in their first encounter. Finally, Alvarez suffered the indignity of having to withdraw from their 2018 Cinco de Mayo rematch after testing positive for Clenbuterol, a banned substance. The Guadalajara phenom who started punching for dollars at the tender age of 15 must feel as though his gladiatorial reputation is at stake. This could lure him into the kind of shoot-out that would play into the heavy hands of Golovkin’s superior power. Indeed, Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya said, “I have never seen Canelo train so angry.” According to Oscar, Alvarez is adamant that he is going to knock out Golovkin out, even though GGG has never been down in 353 amateur bouts and 39 pro fights.  

Nevertheless, both the principals have high boxing IQ’s and are not likely to let their emotions grab the steering wheel of their ring strategy. But there is room for improvement in both corners. Here are three ways that Canelo and GGG could better their first performance.

CANELO

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Canelo is one of the premier counterpunchers in boxing and he boasts the best counter-right uppercut in the gloved game. In their 36 minutes together, he was able to repeatedly plant that punch on GGG, who when inside, tends to get low and lean forward. But Canelo sat back and took a picture rather than following up.  On Saturday, GGG will be relentlessly stalking Canelo. It is the only way he fights. Percentage-wise, the Kazakhstan native lands his shots at a higher rate than any of his boxing brethren (40 %) but he does not move his head, often has his weight on his front foot, and is relatively easy to hit. When Canelo catches GGG, he has to finish with another combination, much as he did in the final frame of the first fight. He has to back Golovkin up; like most aggressive fighters with sleep-producing power, GGG does not know how to fight when his motor is in reverse.

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Canelo has an unfortunate habit of going to the ropes to catch a breather. He is masterful at fighting off the strands but it is a losing strategy with GGG. Golovkin is terrific at keeping his distance and bludgeoning his foes when he has them pinned to the ropes. In their first match-up, when Canelo went to the perimeter, GGG punished him with thumping jabs and thunderous rights. While he does not have GGG’s concussive power, Canelo has faster hands and is arguably a superior boxer, so there is every reason to keep the battle in the center of the ring. Accomplishing this will require that Canelo be in the best condition of his career.

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In rumble number one, GGG pummeled Canelo with his jab. According to CompuBox GGG pulled the trigger on 100 more jabs than Canelo and he landed almost twice as many, 108 to 55. Golovkin lacks Camacho-like hand speed, but his mega-ton power jab is straight; he keeps his elbow in and does not telegraph it. He uses it together with a short left uppercut to open up his opponent down the middle. In the sequel, whether it be slipping, parrying, or more right hand counters to make GGG think thrice about pumping his left, Canelo needs to do a better job of neutralizing GGG’s jab.

GOLOVKIN

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Golovkin is a virtuoso at cutting off the ring, but GGG’s friend Freddie Roach, who is predicting a Canelo victory, insists that GGG has to score a stoppage. As Roach sees it, that means getting  Canelo against the ropes and keeping him there. Roach believes that at 36, GGG’s footspeed has taken a hit from father time and that was the reason Canelo was able to escape when Golovkin seemed to have Canelo trapped. Hall of Famer Ray Mancini told me that he thinks GGG had a tougher time than usual because the fighter, ranked as pound-for-pound best by Ring Magazine, was stale from overtraining.  Mancini explained, “In order to cut off the ring, you need to be able to change speeds.” And while “Boom Boom” had GGG winning, he thought Gennady was too flat to change gears. Golovkin took two or three rounds to get his war machine humming but when GGG had his man pinned, Canelo would often slip out the side door to his left, compromising GGG’s ability to bring his crushing left hook behind his right.

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A key to boxing greatness is punching when your opponent is punching. Golovkin has always demonstrated the grit and ability to stay in the pocket, firing away in the face of incoming. Example: In GGG’s third round knockout of Daniel Geale, Golovkin is tagged with a right but simultaneously delivers a “nighty night” right of his own to the Aussie. In 2017, especially in the early frames, when Canelo attacked or countered, GGG frequently pulled back and out of range. As a result, Gennady was often unable answer Canelo’s blows with his signature left-hook or straight right. Pressed on this point, Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, succinctly stated, “We are working on correcting that.”

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Canelo has a durable neural circuitry. Like Ali and Cesar Chavez Sr., he can see punches coming and he is adroit at whipping his head and turning with shots. When they met last year, Canelo rolled with GGG’s blows, vastly diminishing their power.


Golovkin is a renown body puncher. Consider his 2013 third round knockout of Matthew Macklin with a left hook to the body that broke two ribs.

If GGG is going to derail Canelo, it is not going to be with one bomb. He will have to break him down. GGG must invest in body work but that is not without its perils. As Larry Holmes once explained, going downstairs can leave a fighter vulnerable to headshots but if Golovkin wants a decisive victory, it’s a risk worth taking. Even if it adds a bit more drama to the show than he had in mind.

Press Conference and Gallery: Canelo vs. Golovkin 2

Photos: Ed Mulholland

Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin took to the podium one last time before they battle in the ring. Watch Canelo-Golovkin 2 on Saturday night at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT.

Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin 2 Live Final Press Conference

We are LIVE from the #CaneloGGG2 final press conference. Stream it now.