September 17, 2017
LAS VEGAS — The two top gunslingers in the sport of boxing got together and finally said, “Draw.”
Twelve rounds later, so did the judges.
A fight conducted at the highest levels of the sport wound up dead even between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, which means Golovkin keeps his three middleweight belts until they meet again.
The only controversial aspect — and, really, the only shadow on the night — was a cockeyed 118-110 vote for Canelo on the card of judge Adalaide Byrd. Dave Moretti gave Golovkin a two-point victory, and Don Trella called it even.
Afterward,Nevada State Commission chairman Bob Bennett admitted Byrd had a “bad night, that happens” and that her score was a “little wide.” He also noted her 115 championship fights.
The draw itself wasn’t a surprise, but most people at ringside thought Golovkin had won. My unscientific scoreboard had Golovkin winning seven of the 12 rounds,
He was brilliant, but different. His furious fists were not going to knock a hole into the bigger, thicker challenger, like they’d done to 33 others. He grasped that early, and the 22,358 in T-Mobile Arena watched Golovkin turn it into a nose-to-nose fight that removed Canelo’s sense of distance, thereby defusing his hook and his uppercut.
All the while Golovkin was peppering Canelo with left jabs. Not hard ones, but enough to neutralize him. He also stunned Canelo with a right hand to the head in the corner.
But, in a departure from script, Canelo was the one with the big shots and some truly fearsome near-misses. None of them caused Golovkin to go backwards, and all of them gave the Kazakh champion a chance to display a chin on which you could carve Rushmore likenesses.
Canelo popped Golovkin with a patented right uppercut in the eighth, whistled a right hand against his head in the 10th, and drilled him with a right in the 11th that staggered the champ and forced him to take one of the very rare clenches.
But Golovkin remained relentless, and when the bell ring he smiled beatifically, anticipating his greatest victory.
Maybe next time.
“We can do this again,” Canelo said, “and I’ll win anyway. I thought I won the fight. I was superior for seven or eight rounds. I made him wobble. Of course I want a rematch but it’s up to the people. I feel frustrated.”
This, of course, is a pick-me-up bouquet for Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Canelo and staged this event. Sure, it would have preferred a win for its man, but the draw almost certainly guarantees a rematch.
It adds another birthday candle to the 35-year-old Golovkin’s cake, and it gives fight fans probably eight months to tell their friends that if they miss a rematch, they should cut off a finger, not just a cord. Canelo-Golovkin II will be must-see TV no matter what sort of TV you use.
“I thought Canelo was very resilient,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer. “It was what I expected, a war.”
Golovkin pointed out that he still had his middleweight championships, so it felt like he’d won.
If there is a loser, it is probably Danny Jacobs, the middleweight who belabored Golovkin in March before he lost a unanimous decision. Jacobs felt he had a shot at the winner of this fight. Since there is no winner, he doesn’t.
Neither GGG nor Canelo will risk any activity that will endanger their next rendez-vous. They shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near cooking utensils, sharp-edged paper, or any sort of dog,
According to the CompuBox stats, Golovkin threw over 200 more punches than did Canelo. That is in keeping with his history, and Canelo’s. He jabbed effectively, but for the first time in his professional career he was not carrying the biggest bat. In fact Golovkin connected on 32.2 percent of his power shots. In his previous 13 bouts he had averaged 48 percent.
That speaks to Canelo’s speed and head movement and tells you that if he had been a little busier, he probably would have won. As it was he landed 41.8 percent of his power shots on Triple G. But he threw only 55 jabs that found the champ.
Both fighters were understandably respectful of the fists they were facing. Golovkin never really loaded up, because he would have exposed a jaw to something cruel. Canelo was moving backwards, but he fights well that way.
Since they felt each other’s power and survived, one might expect them to be a little more daring in the sequel. That is something to look forward to, once we all digest what we just saw.