Aftermath: Canelo vs Golovkin
In the wake of the controversial draw between Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Gennady 'GGG' Golovkin, we asked our online team for their take on what unfolded in Las Vegas... Here's what Callum Rudge, Andrew Harrison, Colin Harris, James Oddy and Chris Williamson had to say...
BM: How did you see and score the fight?
CR: I've been getting shouted at a lot on Twitter for this but I'm sticking to it - I thought Canelo won. It's about effective aggression, and while Golovkin definitely looked the aggressor, in the middle rounds especially, it wasn't always effective. Canelo looked very tired after eight but I think he banked the early rounds, the championship rounds and just did enough in the middle to get a decision.
AH: It was a clear win for Golovkin but it wasn't easy (something like 115-113 seemed about right). Canelo made the better start and Golovkin – to his credit – had to change up and apply his patented pressure behind his jab, with skill and intelligence. Canelo simply didn't work hard enough. There were echoes of the first Lewis vs Holyfield fight. Alvarez, like Holyfield, was quicker and more dynamic (especially early), however, Golovkin, like Lewis, was heavier handed and the better boxer - and he pinned his man against the ropes for long periods. At times, Alvarez did next to nothing while cornered. Golovkin's defence had a lot to do with that of course – Canelo was hitting a lot of fresh air whenever he tried to lead off. In addition, when Canelo landed his best punches late in the contest, Golovkin ate them up without blinking. That inhibits a fighter.
CH: My stream kept playing up during rounds 2-4 so I had to re-watch and score those ones after knowing the result... however, my general view was that Canelo took the first four rounds and the final stanza, leaving me with a 115-13 card for GGG.
JO: I had it 115-113 to Golovkin. He started very slowly and looked extremely hesitant for the first two rounds but as soon as he settled down on his jab, he took over. Canelo’s performance was all his best and worst qualities mixed together. His combination punching, on the few occasions he let his hands go, was a joy to watch (even if some of them failed to land or landed on gloves). When he tried to take centre ring and went head to head, literally, he looked the better fighter. His upper body movement in defence was excellent. But he also seemed exhausted by the middle rounds and just seemed to let large portions of the fight drift. It was a superb fight - not the toe-to-toe slugfest people had hoped to see, but a tense, fast-paced chess match with the occasional exchange of big shots. Both men have superhuman chins - especially Golovkin. Some of the shots he took in the last three rounds and simply shrugged off were huge and would have halted nearly any other fighter.
CW: The fight lived up to the billing as a classic. I've watched twice - once live and once with the benefit of coffee and sleep! - and scored it a draw. There were at least four very close rounds for me. The commentary and analysis for the UK TV broadcast was very pro-Golovkin and seemed to ignore much of Canelo's clever defensive work, impressive footwork and better landing punches.
BM: What more could either man have done? What should they have done differently?
CR: Golovkin could've worked the body more and should've started much quicker, it took him four rounds to get going, he also let Canelo jump on him in the championship rounds and didn't do enough to take them. Canelo took long breaks in the fight and looked like he was gassing at times. Stayed on the ropes too much and gave plenty of fuel to the argument that he lost.
AH: Alvarez needed to work harder, yet I don't think he had anything else in him. Both men were at their best. To caveat that: while Canelo is at his peak, Golovkin is on the downside of his career at this stage and so full credit to GGG for dredging up sufficient effort to outwork the younger man. An immediate rematch would look the same.
CH: Alvarez took too many middle rounds off, while GGG took too long to get going.
JO: I think in plenty of rounds, Golovkin, after good work, let Canelo look good for the last 30 seconds. As unfair as it is, those 30 seconds can really help make up a judge's mind. His slow start in the fight also didn’t help. For Canelo, easier said than done to rectify, but he just didn’t do enough. He made Golovkin miss, but he didn’t return with anything of his own at times. And, when he did, they rarely connected well enough to halt Golovkin's forward momentum.
CW: Both were extremely well-prepared, gave everything they had and delivered a terrific fight. I'd rather just enjoy the performances they DID give!
BM: On balance, a black eye for boxing or a night that drives the sport forward?
CR: The 118-110 card from Adelaide Byrd is absolutely a black eye for boxing. There was a lot of concern about her appointment, Canelo has a reputation for getting mad cards in Vegas (119-109 v Cotto, 114-114 v Mayweather). The result is unsatisfactory but not the worst I've ever seen.
AH: The card from Adalaide Byrd was an absolute disgrace and marred a decent fight and a huge occasion. The fact that you expect someone to turn in a card like that once the final bell sounds, though, tells you everything you need to know about boxing and its poorly eyes. While watching the fight live, you're thinking: "That's four rounds to two for Golovkin, though the judges will probably have it even..." It's like we're being conditioned! Byrd should be struck off for that abomination, but is that likely? (as I type this, NSAC Director Bob Bennett has given her a vote of confidence). [Later in the day Bennett announced Byrd would be taking a "small break" from major fights - ed].
CH: Adalaide Byrd's scorecard was a disgrace - and that is the only black-eye for boxing here.
JO: The 118-110 scorecard was absolutely crazy. Whilst I felt Golovkin won, I could understand Canelo winning the whole thing on razor thin cards. It was that type of fight. But even if you prefer counter punching, how, in any way, could you have Canelo winning 10 rounds? He simply didn’t throw, or land enough, to win that many rounds. It’s a weird situation where I’m more upset about one scorecard than the actual result. It certainly detracted from what was a brilliant fight. However, on a positive note, it was refreshing to see how many ‘casual’ viewers were excited about a bout featuring no Irish or British interest between two fighters who don’t partake in cheap gimmicks and sound bites to sell fights. So, it’s not all negative.
CW: The boxing geek in me kind of likes that it's the same result as the classic 1991 middleweight 'unification of sorts' (yes I know..) first fight between James Toney and Mike McCallum. Both men retain bragging rights and we have a rivalry to look forward to. There's nothing wrong with having two colossus at the top of a division. Good fights are good for boxing and this was a terrific fight. The only black eye is the awful 118-110 scorecard from Adalaide Byrd.
BM: Rematch. What happens? Does it happen?
CR: Yes it happens, in May 2018. Canelo wins a split decision.
AH: I think it has to happen but I'm not convinced Golden Boy will go for it next (unless there's something stipulated in the contracts). GGG isn't going to get any better over the next couple of years – they just need to convince Alvarez to put up with the heckles until then. If De la Hoya is serious about respecting the sport, he'll push for the rematch in December.
CH: I hope we're not going to see both fighters sitting-out until May 2018, but I fear we will. I'd like to see GGG vs Saunders in December with the winner fighting Alvarez on Cinco de Mayo weekend next year... and if it does I wonder if Canelo will edge a split decision (I now agree that GGG is past his peak, which means if he slips a bit and Canelo stays at his current level - it should be the difference).
JO: What happens depends on when it happens. If it happens sooner rather than later, I believe Golovkin would be less hesitant in the early stages, having decided he can take whatever Canelo could land, and would win on points. I do have a hunch, however, that Golden Boy promotions might not be in much of a rush, unless the money on offer increases significantly.
CW: It seems sure to happen next summer and I'd tip Alvarez, who is improving in several facets of his game, whereas GGG has likely plateaued at an admittedly elite level. Golovkin seemed to be thinking and pushing himself into actions his younger body would performed naturally. I'd predict and anticipate another terrific fight though.