It was a damn good fight. Adalaide Byrd can stop tossin’ n turning and Teddy Atlas can use Xanax.
He could be 40-0, with the title defense record of Bernard Hopkins in his pocket and HBO's Max Kellerman wanted to talk about it. He didn't, as if to say “No more talking… still.” Now, he shares a salty table at a bar with Marvin Hagler. Former middleweight champion Gennady GGG Golovkin (38-1-1, 34KOs) may have won, but he did not beat a valiant Canelo Alvarez (50-1-2, 34KOs), as the new RING Magazine, WBA and WBC middleweight champion fought like a proud Mexican icon.
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Strangely, there's no singing of any national anthems. Conspicuous in his absence as well, was the presence of Michael Buffer and his trademark big fight traditional of “Let's Get Ready To Rumble!!!” which is now part of a new package deal under Eddie Hearn's DAZN.
Joe A. Martinez, presumably the new Buffer, emcees a T-Mobile Arena full of electricity in anticipation of a war and introduces the fighters in spectacular fashion.
Alvarez is definitely ready to rumble. He's representing black and gold, while Golovkin wears white trimmed with lavender. Last week, I'd caught up with trainer Andre Rozier, who's faced Golovkin before in two different ways with Daniel Jacobs and Curtis Stevens. I asked him if it's possible that Golovkin is ripe for attrition, and if Alvarez can go into the closet with GGG uninvited. “It’s possible, but I don't think it's a good idea– Golovkin is very strong,” said Rozier. “If he (Canelo) stays inside too long Golovkin's power will be too much. He's better off boxing him and using his legs. Especially early.”
But a PPV fighter becomes that way only because of risk. Staring down the odds and the vaunted power of Golovkin, Canelo decides to listen to the voices of Abel “Pendejo” Sanchez and the Reynoso brothers. Sanchez, more reverse psychologist than trainer, has implored Canelo to ‘fight like a man' throughout the promotion, knowing a mano y mano fight would favor the older GGG. Both Eddy and Chepo Reynoso were animated at a wild weigh-in that featured an aggressive Canelo. They've referred to Triple G as ‘a donkey' and a ‘very basic fighter' who only knows how to fight coming forward. Canelo obliges in every way.
That the arena reaches a fever pitch of excitement for the opening round is special, considering a very long delay after Jaimie Munguia bludgeons Moises Fuentes to cap a sterling undercard from Golden Boy. They've all ended in KOs, but two early KOs can leave a time gap. This is right around the time I start checking e-mails from NYF's west coast correspondent Abraham Gonzalez. Without the work of “Abe Link”, my proxy for this event, you may not know about the up and coming club show fighters that become “names” for fighters you know. On this night, he provides notes on fairly significant undercard bouts involving former club show stars David Lemieux, Munguia, and a returning former world #1 Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.
Chocolatito looked very hesitant in round one. Round two, he started to really warm up. His punches definitely have slowed a bit and his reflexes are good not great. He had a lump in his right cheek and with his bottom lip hanging a bit, I feel as though his jaw was either fractured or broken. At this point, I would love to see him fight Gallo Estrada in the rematch or Yafai.
David Lemieux hit Spike with what I like to call the “Danny Garcia no look left hook”. Both guys were exchanging punches but the left hook was landing for Lemieux. I would much rather see him fight Murata next in Toyko.
Size does matter! Jaime Munguia was noticeably bigger than his opponent. That left hook to the body was vicious. It was a Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. type of left hook which sautéed Cook! Munguia is a really good fighter, but needs a few more fights before looking to unify with names like Charlo and Hurd. Munguia against one of the other champions at the “War Grounds” next fall would be an epic battle.
Personally, Chocolatito is like a 40 year-old at super flyweight and a danger to himself. His defense has become very porous; and to face elite opposition with now average flyweight power is suicide. But this is the painful part of boxing you come to live with. Lemieux showed the rare one-punch KO ability that makes him a feared middleweight, while the raw and explosive Munguia continued his assault on 2018.
CANELO V GGG 3?
Maybe, but I hope not. The cut above the eye Canelo sustained will probably kill a planned December scrap he needs, but we'll have to wait and see. As for Golovkin, was that the last time Max Kellerman would have the opportunity to interview Golovkin for HBO? The network of champions is devoid of stars and appears to be in transition for a new era of boxing beyond 2018, as the traditional PPV model is all but dead. Perhaps this is why Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are looking to rob another Brinks truck before New Years. But back to Canelo V GGG 2, which was rightfully won by Alvarez…
I'm looking at the comments and opinions of leading personalities and writers within the sport and can't stop shaking my head. Teddy Atlas has it scored 117-112 Golovkin, just as HBO unofficial judge Harold Lederman has it 116-112 Golovkin. Many across the boxing lexicon have Golovkin winning as clearly as I thought he won the first fight. They're wrong. Those same people will also say, “But Canelo did better this time.” Hello? If the first fight was a draw, then that means he won. Definitively and clearly. Here's why.
When a fighter (Canelo) forces another to do things he'd rather not do (GGG, which is to fight while finally forced to fallback), he's scoring points for that alone and winning rounds. Don't think Abel Sanchez told Triple G somewhere around the 10th “We're losing” for nothing. Canelo won this fight with effective aggression and challenged for the middleweight championship more than Golovkin defended it. It takes extreme risk to take away the one attribute Golovkin is primarily known for– effective aggression, and he did it by committing to a body attack Golovkin was unwilling to match. Unless you're Muhammad Ali, with a charismatic style of grace, you're not going to get away with 12 rounds of just head shots. Gennady Gennadyvich Golovkin landed a grand total of 6 body shots the other night, compared with 8 the first time. That means he wasn't willing to fight Canelo's fight in the pocket.
The difference between this Clenbuterol free fight and the one last year was, Canelo gave Abel and GGG the fight that all three judges heard them ask for, while walking through shots that would've finished any other middleweight in the world. Golovkin, particularly over the first half of the fight, was made to look all of his 36 years and worked harder than he ever has in his life. All of that matters when judging a fight. There were times Canelo looked like Rocky in there, taking shot after shot from Ivan Drago if you will… at some point, those ineffective scoring blows have to become points for Rocky, whose effective aggression is making him the better ring general. Golovkin's face was a battered mess, while Canelo's showed no visible swelling at all. That not only matters to the judges, but it should. I had Canelo winning this fight 7-5, 115-113, and Teddy Atlas can go fly a kite.
In #Mandown, the preview piece just before this fight, I thought Golovkin's body would succumb to the over 400 amateur fights and 40 as a pro predicated on nothing but pressure. Usually, it's pressure that eventually breaks a pressure fighter. That he adjusted – while sucking wind heavy as early as the fourth round, is a testament to just how great the will of this man is. I was dumbfounded by an ability to revert back to the quintessential GGG we've known during the championship rounds. Only a special fighter could've done that given the pounding he took to the body. Golovkin is an all-time great, one of the greatest middleweights of all-time and a true ambassador for the sport of boxing. After coming so close to a unique history only he would know, If he pulls a Marvin Hagler and just walks away who could blame him? I know Max wouldn't.
As for Canelo, his star-studded resume will only grow brighter. At 28, a war with Daniel Jacobs may beckon, or even a surprising catchweight showdown with #Mandown himself, Errol Spence Jr. With a scandal behind him just like all of Mexico, his is a future consisting of nothing but Grade A beef.