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Leaving Las Vegas Behind

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If you’re looking for hard hitting analysis on the blockbuster rematch between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez then this piece might not be for you.

This is a recap of my first ever trip to Las Vegas with some boxing thrown in for good measure.

Vegas is a money pit in the middle of a desert. The suction required to keep the Hoover Dam operational is nothing compared to the speed that your money could be vacuumed up in that place if you aren’t careful. I enjoyed myself, mainly because of the company I was in, but hated the whole money burning culture of the hotter than hell desert inferno I spent 48 hours in.

When making a trip to the United States to watch boxing I would rather go to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago etc.

That’s not to say that Las Vegas doesn’t have its plus points. Parts of The Strip are pretty cool. The area around T-Mobile Arena, known as “The Park” is spectacular, but on the whole it’s just too gaudy for my tastes. Less Fear and Loathing, more like ‘I just want to go back to Los Angeles.’

Which brings me to some details. I flew in to LAX on Wednesday and was hosted by my Southern California family Johnny and Lisa Wilds. Lisa’s mother June joined us for our early Friday departure and we headed north east across the desert towards Vegas. Our man Johnny was steady at the wheel, as was Lisa on the Sunday return journey, and the arid landscape, some of which is surprisingly stunning, passed quickly.

Already in Las Vegas for the festivities were my NY FIGHTS colleague Abraham Gonzalez who was joined by his brother Carlos. Former #7QuestionsWith interviewee Luke Chapman and his mate Michael had flown in from Australia and we also met up with Johnny’s Vegas connections JC, Alan, Adam, Michael and Raphael. We took over ‘The Clubhouse’ in the Westgate’s sports bar and watched Jamel Herring and José Ramirez win their fights on the ESPN broadcast on Friday night.

Then suddenly it was Saturday. The Box Fan Expo was in town for something to do in the early part of the day. Myself, Abraham and Carlos attended the Expo. The lineup of fighters was as advertised and the lines to meet them were long. I bailed after meeting James “Lights Out” Toney, Mikey Garcia and Thomas “Hitman” Hearns as well as the president of the Canelo fan club, Laura from Glasgow, Scotland. It was strange hearing another Scottish accent so far away from home.

I said cheers to Mikey on my way out the door and headed over to T-Mobile Arena unsure of how the night would play out.

And this is when the jet lag set in. I felt lousy as I took my vertigo inducing seat in section 212. The view to the ring was perfect. The company of Abraham, Carlos and Luke helped keep me just on the right side of feeling OK.

The undercard passed swiftly. Chocolatito Gonzalez, much to my delight, looked good in KOing Moises Fuentes in round five of the TV opener. Chocolatito is back to form and hopefully will fight for a 115lb world title in his next bout.

Following that,  David Lemieux smoked big talking Irishman Spike O’Sullivan in round one and Jaime Munguia victimised Brandon Cook in three fast rounds. The main event would follow after a 90 minute break.

The time passed quickly as I caught up with Abraham and Carlos who had been joined by their US Marine brothers Jason and Charlie. Luke and Michael represented the southern Hemisphere.  The banter was entertaining as we counted down to 8pm Vegas time.

The main event was upon us and I returned to my seat. The arena was now packed with Canelo fans making up the majority of the crowd. Little did we know we were about to witness a violent 36-minute classic.

Golovkin opened up with the jab but found Canelo in fine form as the younger Mexican countered quickly and accurately. Time for plan B maybe. Canelo’s aggression was noted and GGG attempted to use this to his advantage, going on the back foot and attempting to lure Canelo into a mistake. Canelo’s front foot work was strong however and he had some great success between rounds five to eight.

That portion of the fight won him the contest. Golovkin looked tired at times and Canelo’s sharp punches looked very good to those of us up high during these rounds.

Could GGG launch a fightback? Yes was the answer.

Defying his 36 years and long career the man from Kazakhstan put everything he had left into the closing quarter of the bout. His uppercut looked like it would be the punch to unlock the door but he didn’t throw it enough. Canelo took some huge shots but didn’t flinch. The Mexican landed a good share of counter bombs too, similarly Golovkin stood up well to the punishment.

It was high quality offensive boxing from both men, we were witnessing a truly special fight. The two great middleweights were waging war – it was a throw-back style fight which may draw favourable comparisons to the Hagler-Leonard, Hearns, Leonard era over time.

The fight was so good the result is irrelevant to this piece. If you’re reading this I’m assuming you know the outcome. This writer is fine with how the scores went. The judges did an honest job on Saturday and Canelo’s majority decision win was deserved from my point of view. The sequel is rarely better than the original. This rivalry has already proven that sequels can be better and I want the third installment at some point next year.

Feeling rejuvenated by the fight I walked out into the hot Las Vegas night and watched the Mexican fans enjoying their moment. As a GGG fan I wasn’t about to join in with their celebrations but I did congratulate them. Their man fought a great fight. Despite the clock ticking on GGG I’m not writing off his chances of winning if we do indeed get part three.

As Lisa drove us south west across the desert on Sunday the sanctuary of Los Angeles seemed far away as I scanned my Twitter time-line. Everyone it seemed was in full on debate mode.  I didn’t see one tweet acknowledging just how great a fight it was. Fighters like Canelo and GGG don’t come along every year and great rivalries are even less frequent. Whoever you wanted to win please take a moment to appreciate both of these fine fighters.

I want to see another bout between these two and I believe we will get it although GGG’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, has mentioned he doesn’t want it to take place in Las Vegas. So why not in New York? Save up some change people, part three is coming. It’s an epic rivalry.

Let us know in the comments below if you’d like to see part three. I have already stated where I stand on this but it is worth emphasising. Do I want GGG and Canelo to tango one more time? As my friends Abe and Carlos say so eloquently in their New York accents: “yea yea yea.”

A boxing fan since his teenage years, Morrison began writing about the sport in July 2016. He appreciates all styles of boxing and has nothing but respect for those who get in the ring for our entertainment. Morrison is from Scotland and can be found on Twitter @Morrie1981.

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