LAS VEGAS — Everyone expected Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez to deliver an action-packed classic, and they did just that in a ferocious battle. What it lacked, however, was consistency from the judges in a split draw.
Golovkin retained his unified middleweight title on Saturday night — Mexican Independence Day — before a sold-out crowd of 22,358 at the T-Mobile Arena, but few were satisfied with the result.
Judge Dave Moretti scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Golovkin, Adalaide Byrd stunningly had it 118-110 for Alvarez and Don Trella scored the fight 114-114.
The fight began with the cheering sections for each fighter taking turns chanting “Canelo! Canelo!” followed roars of “Triple G! Triple G!” But it was a close round with both landing a few solid shots.
Both fighters have excellent jabs, and they tried to establish it early on. Both were able to land it, but Golovkin’s appeared heavier. When Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) went to the ropes in the fourth round, Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) went right after him. He landed right hands and body shots. Alvarez tried to duck and dodge the incoming shot, but he got clipped with a few shots before moving away.
The fight turned into a slugfest in the fifth round as the crowd went wild. Golovkin hammered Alvarez with a hard right hand that jerked his head, but Alvarez came right back, causing GGG to smile. They continued to go at each other hard for the rest of the round, back and forth.
Alvarez spent most of the seventh round on the move as Golovkin stalked him and threw heavy right hands. When he got close he shoved jabs down the middle and Alvarez rarely responded.
Golovkin landed a hard right uppercut early in the eighth round that seemed to buzz Alvarez, who seemed to be fading though he got in a stinging uppercut late in the round even if Golovkin didn’t budge.
They traded huge right hands early in the ninth round but Alvarez buckled and Golovkin didn’t. Golovkin later trapped Alvarez in a corner and unloaded a right hand that knocked Alvarez’s head back, but he responded by connecting with a clean right hand.
The 10th round had wild action as they exchanged power punches throughout. They were digging down deep with so much on the line.
Golovkin continued to assert himself in the 11th round as Alvarez continually backed up and then they embraced as the 12th round began.
Alvarez landed a clean right in the opening seconds of the round and then connected with a four-punch combination. But Golovkin’s chin is tremendous. He walked through everything and nailed Alvarez. They closed out a terrific fight slugging away in the center of the ring.