Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez claimed the WBC and WBA world middleweight titles by inflicting a first career defeat on Gennady Golovkin with a gripping points win in their Las Vegas rematch.
The Mexican claimed a frenetic final round on the scorecards which proved critical in preventing a repeat of the draw both men shared, 364 days earlier at the same T-Mobile Arena venue.
At the end of a contest which showcased the expert skill level of two of the sport’s finest practitioners, Alvarez scored a 114-114 115-113 115-113 majority decision.
Golovkin, whose first defeat comes in his 40th bout – left the ring immediately without conducting an interview as his rival – fighting for the first time since serving a six-month drugs ban – celebrated.
“My corner told me that I needed to win the final round and that what’s I did,” said Alvarez. “I’m very emotional.”
A battle to justify the hype
Alvarez looked close to tears after a decision which will again prompt controversy as, for spells in the fight, Golovkin seemed to be edging the physical side of a tactical battle, with his jab proving key early on.
But with scoring already criticised in their first bout before Alvarez’s two failed doping tests in February, it is perhaps not surprising that once again controversy will remain and talk of a rematch is almost certain.
Few could argue the hype surrounding their second meeting was not justified as the bout ebbed and flowed. Celebrities including actors Will Smith and Denzel Washington, and sports stars such as Mike Tyson and LeBron James sat ringside as the capacity 20,000 inside the arena were taken in by a bout in which neither man looked like capitulating at any stage.
After Golovkin’s poised jab clearly won the opening three minutes, Alvarez’s response in the second – including a solid right uppercut – pointed to the back-and-forth contest that was to come.