With all due respect to Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor's “Money Fight,” Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin's legitimate middleweight title fight was unquestionably the biggest fight on the boxing calendar in 2017. So anticipated, perhaps, that some fight fans would've liked to see it twice, including judge Adalaide Byrd.
Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) was the superior fighter but settled for a hard-to-reckon split draw in his 160-pound showdown with Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs). Nevada judge Dave Moretti saw it 115-113 for Golovkin, while Connecticut's Don Trella had it at least a believable 114-114. Unfortunately, local judging staple Adalaide Byrd stretched credulity, turning in a baffling 118-110 scorecard for Alvarez.
The 27-year-old Alvarez, who came in with The Ring magazine middleweight title, was hot in the first nine minutes despite employing an atypical strategy of backing himself up to the ropes and seeking to counter. Nonetheless, over the first three rounds, Golovkin trudged forward but seemed slow and out of rhythm, while Alvarez tagged him with jabs and touched him to the body.
In the fourth round, Golovkin came alive and his forward pressure began to pay dividends, backing Alvarez, jabbing consistently and banging him to the body while his Mexican foe circled and sought to counter. Nonetheless, the undefeated Kazakh -- the WBA Super, WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight champion of the world – was unrelenting, turning up his pressure over the mid-to-latter stanzas, finally landing hard right uppercuts.
With a sense of urgency, Alvarez roared to life in Round 12 and soundly bested a charging Golovkin, who ate steady left jabs, hooks and body shots. Nonetheless, the late surge was not enough to convince the Sin Ciy crowd Canelo had won, as they booed the draw and over the Mexican's post-fight comments.
“In the first rounds, I came out just to see what he had, then I started building. But, I won seven or eight rounds easily,” Alvarez told HBO's Max Kellerman after the contest.
“I was there to fight. I did my fight ... We'll fight again in the second one, but I'll win anyway.”
“Of course I want a rematch; I want a fight. Rematch, next fight, I want a true fight,” said Golovkin. “I want a champion's fight.”
The announced attendance at T-Mobile Arena was 22,358.
Diaz, De la Hoya and Martin Star in Undercard Action
In a WBC featherweight title eliminator, Joseph Diaz Jr. (25-0, 13 KOs) was a step or two -- or punch or two – ahead of Mexico's Rafael Rivera (25-1-2, 16 KOs) for 12 rounds, earning a unanimous decision (120-108, 119-109, 119-109). Diaz, a 2012 London Games Olympian, walked Rivera down for the entire contest, using superior craft and volume to stymie his foe; while Rivera's right-hand counters were the hardest shots of the first half of the bout, the Tijuana native couldn't match Diaz, who outlanded him seemingly two to one in every exchange. In the final four rounds, “Jojo” turned up the heat on an arm-weary Rivera, landing more unabated left hands in multiples. With the victory, Diaz is lined up to challenge WBC 126-pound champ Gary Warren Jr.
Former IBF bantamweight champion Randy Caballero (24-1, 14 KOs) suffered the first loss of his pro career against another unbeaten, 23-year-old Mexican Diego de la Hoya (20-9, 9 KOs). De la Hoya fought off his back foot for all 10 rounds, yet consistently used his lead hand to activate extended, clean combinations of punches, varying his left from a jab, to a cross, to a hook over the bout. Caballero, who was competing for just the second time at 122 pounds and for the third time in nearly three years, marched forward throughout the contest and landed with regularity, but couldn't match the sharpness of de la Hoya, who was also permitted considerable latitude in his clinching by referee Robert Byrd. De la Hoya earned the NABF super bantamweight title via unanimous decision with scores of 100-90 and 98-92 twice.
Lightweight prospect Ryan Martin (20-0, 11 KOs) remained unbeaten via split decision (96-93, 95-54, 91-98) against rugged but little known Mexican Francisco Rojo (20-3, 13 KOs). Martin, a protégé of boxing trainer Joe Delguyd who also trains Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titlist Stipe Miocic, diligently worked his jab-right cross combination throughout the fight and throughout the mid-rounds, turned his lead hand into a steadily scoring left hooks. However, Rojo's pressure was relentless over 10 rounds, steadily tagging the flat-footed Martin clean to the torso, despite the rangier the Ohio native landing more volume upstairs. In the ninth round, Russell Mora deducted a point from Martin for repeated low blows as he sought to respond to Rojo's steady body attack.
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