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Canelo Alvarez caps trilogy with dominant decision over GGG

Updated September 17, 2022 - 11:48 pm

The bell sounded Saturday night inside T-Mobile Arena, signaling the end of the 36th and final round that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin would share inside a boxing ring.

Suddenly, the animus they shared the past five years evaporated.

They marched toward the center of the ring and shared a lengthy embrace, hugging each other like long lost relatives instead of the archrivals they were made out to be during their epic trilogy.

“Thank you so much, my friend,” said Alvarez, a gold crown atop his head and another victory to his record. “Thank you for everything.”

Alvarez ended the trilogy in dynamic fashion, scoring a 116-112, 115-113, 115-113 unanimous decision over his nemesis to retain his WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF super middleweight championships before an announced crowd of 19,519.

The scores suggest the fight was close. That Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 knockouts) regained the form that helped him push Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) to the brink of defeat during their 2017 and 2018 meetings in Las Vegas.

It wasn’t.

He didn’t.

Alvarez dominated instead.

The Mexican icon set the tempo in the first round, mixing hooks around an active jab before settling in and targeting Golovkin’s head and body with power punches. Golovkin hardly threw combinations, relying instead on a jab that doesn’t snap the way that he’s accustomed to.

“He’s a really good fighter. He’s strong, and he’s a great fighter. That’s why we’re here, right?” said Alvarez, who had lost his last fight in May to WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol. “I’m glad I got to share the ring with him. I’m going to keep forward to keep my legacy going strong.”

The trilogy began Sept. 16 2017, when Alvarez and Golovkin battled in one of the most controversial fights in recent memory. Golovkin operated as the aggressor and backed Alvarez up with his pistol jab and plodding power. Alvarez was slick but tentative, salvaging a split draw because of judge Adalaide Byrd’s egregious 118-110 ruling in his favor.

Alvarez adjusted during the rematch Sept. 17, 2018, by employing an aggressive style and marching toward Golovkin the way he did Saturday.

He won that one via majority decision, ending Golovkin’s first reign as unified middleweight champion.

There was still a sense, though, that there was unfinished business between them, even though Alvarez moved to super middleweight and Golovkin remained a middleweight. A deal brokered this spring by Alvarez and Matchroom Boxing called for a third and final fight.

Albeit three years too late.

At 40, Golovkin did not work at the same rate he did when he fought Alvarez four years ago. He flicked his jab toward Alvarez, who walked right through on his quest to knock out Golovkin. Alvarez landed 85 power punches compared with 46 for Golovkin, per CompuBox.

Alvarez’s total of 130 connects also outpaced Golovkin’s 120, 74 of which were relatively ineffective jabs. That punch might not have the same pop, and he might not have the stamina to work at the same rate, but Golovkin’s chin is still sturdy enough to absorb Alvarez’s best punches.

“You know for this — everybody knows — this is high level, the best fight for boxing,” Golovkin said. “Look at his face. Look at my face. It’s high level. Because we trained well, and this shows that we did a very good fight, very good quality.”

Golovkin also thanked Alvarez and shook his hand before departing the ring. He’s still the unified middleweight champion and indicated he plans to box again.

His feud, though, with Alvarez is settled “100 percent,” Golovkin said.

Alvarez wants to avenge his loss to Bivol, though he said he plans to rest first. He revealed afterward that he needs surgery on his left hand.

“But I will come back stronger,” Alvarez said.

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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