Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin hugged immediately after the final bell of their middleweight rematch Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
There was no need to flex and pound chests like the fighters did following the first fight last September that was ruled a split draw.
Alvarez and Golovkin seemed at peace with allowing three of the most respected judges in the world to say who’s best between the evenly matched opponents.
Neither fighter had budged over those 24 grueling back-and-forth rounds. No knockdowns. No moments of domination. But someone had to win.
Alvarez was given the nod by the judges and Team Golovkin was gracious in defeat.
“We can’t be hypocritical and (expletive) about every decision that doesn’t go our way,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer.
Alvarez was awarded a majority decision (115-113, 114-114, 115-113) to become the new king of the division as the unified WBC and WBA champion.
After a 364-day layoff, Alvarez accomplished his goal of beating Golovkin at his own game. He constantly brought the pressure and had Golovkin moving backward.
For the first time in his career, Golovkin showed signs of slippage and looked his age. He relied heavily on his jab and lacked the legs needed to land combinations.
Now the question: Do the fighters immediately get back in the ring for a trilogy? There’s not much time to waste with Golovkin turning 37 in April.
Or do they press pause and go their separate ways for at least one fight?
All signs are pointing to Alvarez’s first title defense being against former champion David Lemieux, who was knocked out by Golovkin in 2015.
Lemieux recorded a first-round knockout against Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan on Saturday’s pay-per-view undercard.
Alvarez said he wants to fight in December, but that might be too short of notice after a grueling bout with Golovkin.
As for Golovkin, he could challenge WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders. The two had an agreement to fight if Golovkin didn’t land a rematch with Alvarez.
Alvarez’s trainer, Eddy Reynoso, is well aware of which middleweight contenders Alvarez might cross paths with after the chapter with Golovkin closes. Reynoso recently praised Jermall Charlo, Daniel Jacobs and Saunders.
“The middleweight division is in good hands with Canelo,” middleweight legend Bernard Hopkins said.
Alvarez has many possible opponents, but it’s unknown which network will televise any upcoming bouts.
There are reports that Alvarez’s and Golovkin’s contracts with HBO have expired and that the premium cable network could be leaving the boxing business.
Two of the biggest stars in boxing could soon be looking for a new TV home.