Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, rivals for half a decade at the top of the boxing world, dropped their gloves once the last bell rang on Saturday. They kissed in the center of the ring at T-Mobile Arena. They exchanged words. Golovkin kissed Alvarez on the cheek.
The animosity between the fighters, after facing each other for 36 rounds since 2017, has abruptly disappeared.
“I said to him, ‘Thank you for everything,'” Álvarez said in Spanish, “because we gave the fans three great fights.”
Álvarez, 32, wore a gold crown and a smile. He kept Golovkin waiting four years, until after the Kazakh’s 40th birthday, to complete their trilogy and he ended it with a convincing unanimous decision win to remain the undisputed super middleweight champion despite battling with a broken left hand which he says will require surgery.
With the victory, he rebounded from his one-sidedness May loss to lightweight Dmitry Bivol in front of another supportive crowd the night after Mexico’s Independence Day.
“I went through some very difficult things in my life,” Álvarez said. “The only thing you can do is keep moving forward. I went through tough times with my defeat. But defeats can show how great you can be, how you can come back and be humble.
Álvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) was the aggressor for the first eight rounds, easily dealing with his older foe economically. Golovkin seemed unwilling – or unable – to let go. He finally woke up in the ninth, engaging in exchanges with Álvarez over the final four rounds to spice up a bland fight.
Álvarez, meanwhile, appeared to reduce the stretch as he did against Bivol. But Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs) needed a knockout and didn’t produce one in a fight without a knockdown. Two judges inexplicably scored the fight 115-113 for Álvarez. The third had 116-112.
Still, the controversy didn’t cloud the outcome, unlike the other fights.
The first, in 2017, ended in a draw that many observers considered a convincing victory for Golovkin. Bad blood spilled into the rivalry before the rematch in 2018 when Álvarez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug twice two months before the fight, which was moved from May to September, and Álvarez was banned. during six months.
Álvarez said he ate contaminated meat. Golovkin called him a cheater. Tension painted the rematch, which Álvarez narrowly won with a more aggressive approach.
Meanwhile, the smallest fighter to step into the ring on Saturday might have been the most talented.
Álvarez was the cash cow, a superstar in a sport that craved it and clung to its peak. Jesse Rodriguez represents the future.
The San Antonio native is a dynamic prospect who has burst onto the scene this year with two impressive wins in less than five months, putting him on the path to Fighter of the Year. Fans wonder if Rodriguez, the world’s youngest active champion, is already one of the best pound-for-pound boxers.
Rodriguez (17-0, 11 KOs) didn’t dazzle as expected on Saturday against Israel Gonzalez (28-5-1, 11 KOs), instead encountering a tougher fight than expected. But he controlled the fight enough to win a unanimous decision and retain his World Boxing Council Super Flyweight title in the co-feature event. His meteoric rise continues.
Its prospects as a main attraction, however, remain unclear.
Boxers in Rodriguez, 22’s weight range — 108 to 115 pounds — historically don’t attract stardom. Rodriguez and his camp know it; the subject was noted several times when it appeared in the press last week.
Rodriguez finished strong to seal the win, but it wasn’t the kind of win that got viewers excited. No social media highlights. Not moments that will be remembered. It was a boring fight, and boring fights don’t appeal to casual fans. That, not just any opponent, could be the biggest challenge he faces in the years to come.
Álvarez does not face this problem. He is the most famous boxer in the world, a brand with a name with the support of a country. He spent the last four years cementing his place at the top of the boxing world by taking on nearly everyone not named Golovkin until he finally fell to Bivol at light heavyweight.
He returned to super middleweight, his favorite weight class, and regained his footing as Golovkin fought above middleweight for the first time in his professional career.
Alvarez scored Golovkin’s face with a few stiff jabs. I landed eye-catching combinations. I found a second wind in the last two laps to leave no doubt. He was the undisputed winner of his 23rd career world title fight, a chapter-closing meeting the sport has waited too long to see.
In the end, the hostility between them was a thing of the past. Álvarez said the beef was crushed, praising his rival instead. Golovkin, who maintained that he was not yet planning to retire, returned the favor.
“Congratulations to Canelo and his entire team,” Golovkin said. “He’s a real warrior.”
The pair then shook hands and kissed again, their time in the ring definitely over.
Also: Diego Pacheco picked up a fifth-round technical knockout victory over Enrique Collazo to improve to 16-0 with 13 knockouts.