Because of Canelo Alvarez’s defensive craft and ring smarts, Golovkin never came close to scoring a knockout, but because of “GGG’s” pace, pressure, and insane durability (is there a sturdier chin in boxing?), Alvarez was made to work when he wanted to rest, and ultimately got out-hustled by the older man. For me, Gennady Golovkin won no fewer than seven rounds.
Canelo doesn’t have the stamina to work for three minutes every round, so he fights in spots, often punctuating the last thirty seconds of each stanza with a flashy, clean combination to leave a lasting impression on the judges. In this sense, Alvarez knows that it’s not necessarily the better fighter who gets the benefit of the doubt in round scoring, but the better performer. Personally, I preferred the more consistent and steady work of Golovkin.
That’s not to say Canelo didn’t fight well, however, because he most certainly did. Defensively, he was superb. Canelo used his footwork (which I’ve long said is underrated) to offset Golovkin and avoid the Kazakh’s powerful punches numerous times, especially when he was against the ropes. For instance, Alvarez did an excellent job of making “GGG” miss with the right hand by sliding out to his left. In addition, Canelo’s slippery upper body movement kept him elusive and created some beautiful counters throughout the contest.
Offensively, Canelo’s uppercuts were predictably noteworthy. Alvarez also had some success jabbing with Golovkin, and when returning fire with the jab immediately after “GGG” had fired his. With that being said, Gennady’s jab was by far the most effective punch of the fight. Canelo gave ground primarily because of it. Golovkin didn’t really use his jab to set up other punches, though. He used it mainly to disrupt and stifle Canelo, and it worked like a charm.
Golovkin was perhaps a little too cautious when Canelo was against the ropes, but he did well not to smother himself or overcommit to his punches, which would have accommodated Alvarez’s short, timely counters.
On the whole, I felt that Golovkin neglected Canelo’s body. Maybe he was worried about leaving himself open up top? Nevertheless, when Alvarez was sliding out to his left, “GGG” should have been blocking off his exit by taking a step to the right and then throwing a sweeping right hook to the body. Instead, he threw his right hand straight at Canelo’s head, which made it easy for Alvarez to escape out the back door. If you go back and review the fight, you will see this continually.
In fact, this was the first time I’ve ever watched Golovkin and thought to myself he could have done a better job of cutting off the ring. Canelo’s movement was good, but it wasn’t that good. At times “GGG” looked hesitant. Some of this was part respect for his opponent, but some of it was slippage. “GGG” is not as explosive and he no longer attacks with the same intensity and ferocity. To me, this is obvious.
I’ve already touched on “GGG’s” durability, but his defense might have went overlooked. He blocked a lot of punches with his gloves and forearms, and I liked how he occasionally got behind his lead shoulder and rolled with Canelo’s right hand. Alvarez’s left hook to the body (which was arguably his key weapon heading in) was often caught on “GGG’s” right elbow, which was kept close to the body in a protective position. I also appreciated how in the later rounds, “GGG” denied Canelo the clinch by positioning his head under the Mexican’s chin and then pushing back his arms.
Final note: Obviously, Adalaide Byrd handed in a lousy card. But Don Trella was the only judge who awarded round seven, a clear round for “GGG” in my opinion, to Canelo. Regardless of Byrd’s horrible scoring, Golovkin wins the fight if Trella scores the seventh correctly. — Lee Wylie
Photos by Jeff Lockhart