LAS VEGAS — Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin battled to an extraordinary draw on Saturday night in a thrilling middleweight superfight that fully lived up to the billing.
Alvarez began strong, struggled in the middle rounds, then finished with a tremendous flurry in a contest hyped as a war and which ultimately turned into one. Alvarez got the nod on judge Adalaide Byrd’s scorecard by the scandalous margin of 118-110, but Dave Moretti had it 115-113 for Golovkin and Don Trella ruled it a draw.
In truth, it was an incredibly close battle, with countless rounds that could have went either way. Perhaps justice was served. Golovkin landed a number of telling blows, especially during the middle rounds. At the end of 12 the entire crowd was on its feet, as it had been during stretches of the fifth, ninth and 10th rounds, when extraordinary exchanges of power were launched by both men.
The early rounds were tense and tight and tough to call, although Alvarez seemed to have a little more spring in his step and was moving out of trouble comfortably. It would be a stretch to say nerves had gotten the better of Golovkin at the start of the biggest night of his career, but the 35-year-old was struggling to let his hands fly with the pace and ferocity of normal.
It was already a good fight but in the fifth round it turned into the kind of war that lived up to the promise of action. That was how this one had been hyped, a slugfest between two men unwilling to take a backward step.
Golovkin got Alvarez on the ropes and from there they traded huge shots, Alvarez taking heavy leather to the side of the head but shaking it off, then coming back with fury of his own.
Yet Golovkin was ceaseless now in his pressure, walking his opponent constantly and seeming to get the better of the middle rounds. The ninth was another blockbuster, each man eating and surviving the kind of punches that have felled many before them. At the end of it, Alvarez seemed to be lagging, yet he somehow responded with an explosive start to the 10th, rocking Golovkin with some monstrous shots that had his older opponent reeling.
The 12th was another masterpiece of action and determination, neither fighter giving any quarter, both seeking the elusive knockout and delighting the T-Mobile Arena audience with every second of toil.
They embraced at the final bell before the nervous wait began. Neither won on the night, with Golovkin retaining his WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight titles. But boxing was ultimately the winner.