LAS VEGAS — When Canelo Alvarez was awarded a surprising draw after he challenged Gennady Golovkin for the unified middleweight championship on this Mexican Independence Day weekend last year, there was heavy controversy.
This time, in another hard-fought battle, Alvarez claimed a majority-decision victory in the year’s biggest fight to take the unified middleweight world title from Golovkin on Saturday night at the sold-out T-Mobile Arena.
Alvarez won 115-113 on the scorecards from judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld, and Glenn Feldman scored it 114-114, as Alvarez ended Golovkin’s historic title reign at a record 20 defenses, which he shares with Bernard Hopkins, one of Alvarez’s promoters who was ringside. ESPN.com also scored it 114-114.
Moments into the first round, the crowd began to chant “GGG! GGG!” only to be drowned out by chants of “Canelo! Canelo!” as the fighters began at a measured pace looking to establish their jabs. Golovkin got his working better to clearly win the round.
Alvarez began to let his hands go in the second round and landed a clean left hook midway through the round. But Golovkin didn’t budge from the punch or from another good right hand later in the round.
Golovkin ripped Alvarez with an uppercut in the fourth round and continued to fire away upstairs and continued to pump a stiff jab that landed often.
Alvarez landed a booming overhand right in the fifth round, but again Golovkin didn’t budge. Alvarez stalked forward looking to land another big bomb, but Golovkin continued to stick his jab in is face to keep him at bay. Alvarez backed Golovkin up continually in the sixth round with his body attack.
Alvarez, typically a counter puncher, applied great pressure to Golovkin in the middle rounds and landed several good body shots. Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez even told Golovkin in the corner that he was losing the fight after seventh round.
Golovkin didn’t seem to have the usual snap on his power shots, and he backed up a lot more than usual, perhaps a sign that he is an aging 36-year-old fighter.
Alvarez landed a right hand to the head that knocked Golovkin back in the fourth round and then landed another moments later. He appeared to be taking over the fight.
Early in the 10th round, Alvarez landed a series of head shots that forced Golovkin to cover up. Then he landed a clean body shot and jab. But Golovkin turned things around later in the round as he forced Alvarez to the ropes and unloaded a couple of powerful shots. Alvarez responded, and the crowd went wild during a fierce exchange that was the most violent of the fight to that point.
Golovkin really hurt Alvarez with a pair of right hands in the 11th round in which they went back and forth. Then he landed a left hook that knocked him off balance.
With the fight seemingly up for grabs in the final round, they fought like it, but it was Golovkin, with a clean uppercut and seemingly getting the better of the action, who closed it out strong in a fierce 12th round as the crowd stood and cheered wildly. And when it was over, despite the bad blood, they embraced even though they said they wouldn’t.
“My corner told me to close the round because it was a very close fight, and that’s what I did,” Alvarez said. “He was connecting some punches but they were few and far between.
“If the people want another fight, then we’ll do it. But for now I’m going to enjoy it.”