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On March 29, 2012, I published a column on this very site claiming that Manny Pacquiao would defeat Floyd Mayweather if they were to meet in a boxing match–at that time.

The illusive matchup seemed so real and so close for so long. Finally, the two best fighters of a generation (who maddeningly fought at the same weight) will finally square off and answer this question definitively: Who would win?

Today, I’ll revisit the key points in my thesis and see which ones hold up, which ones are no longer accurate (a lot can and has changed in 3 years in boxing), and who I think wins the fight. As a bonus, and since I’ll be watching this from Las Vegas’ legendary atmosphere—and the ticket fiasco was as frustrating and wild as advertised–, I’ll be providing my betting tips for fight night to make sure this piece is as lucrative for its readers as it is entertaining.

Sidebar: I’m tired of hearing the argument that this fight is “too late”. Certainly, both fighters have regressed as they approach what should be the downslope of their careers from an age perspective. But I think they’ve roughly declined the same amount. And despite those respective declines, they are still the top-2 draws in boxing, and the top-2 Welterweights in the world. Lastly, the wait should be worth it as their respective declines could turn this into a more fan-friendly affair. I digress.

For reference, here was the previous post:

Key Points from March 2012:

1) Floyd’s fight vs. Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao’s 4 fights vs. Marquez are not relevant comparisons. The transitive property does not apply in boxing.

Anyone who’s ever tried to prognosticate the outcome of a prizefight simply by comparing outcomes versus common opponents would be a fool. The old adage of “styles make fights” is truer than true and anything other argument would be fallacious.

It just so happens that JMM is the perfect and worthy adversary for Pacquiao (Manny’s explosive speed/offense vs. Marquez’s crisp, technical counterpunching/timing). The fact that Manny got knocked out is also hardly relevant as he was winning the fight, on the verge of his own KO, and simply got caught with the perfect punch. Sure, Mayweather handled Marquez with ease and also fits the technical counterpuncher label, but Mayweather’s speed is/was his greatest asset. Not to say he isn’t still faster than Manny (he certainly is), but he’s certainly not as fast as he was back then (almost 6 years ago by fight time).

Anyhow, the same argument could be made of Pacquiao v. Cotto. Whereas Floyd won a close and tough fight, Manny dismantled Cotto who was way closer to his prime then compared to when Mayweather fought him (this isn’t in question). Same story with Manny’s annihilation of De La Hoya compared to Floyd’s razor-thin decision over DLH (Oscar was more washed up for Manny in this example)– they simply aren’t relevant in this discussion.

It’s simple. Styles make fights, and Manny’s style poses problems for Floyd.

1) He’s a Southpaw: I don’t think there’s any merit to claims of Floyd avoiding southpaws, but lefties make you change a LOT on both offense and defense and Floyd hasn’t fought a truly high-level left-handed fighter in a while

2) Very quick puncher: While Floyd has a speed advantage, only Zab Judah could match Manny’s quick (and Lefty) punches, which did get through on occasion

3) Combination puncher (sometimes): – This is the key to the entire fight. Floyd can block/dodge/deflect/counter any single shot, but Mayweather’s programmatic counters don’t account for Pacman’s angles/combos (no sparring partner can mimic them). He’ll have an answer for Manny’s 1-2s, so Manny MUST commit to jab first.

4) Manny is a hard puncher: While Manny is not a thudding, heavy-handed power puncher like Marcos Maidana, he has plenty of pop in his hands. He may not hurt Floyd as in knock him down, but Floyd cannot get lazy and take a few arm punches like he did routinely against Maidana.

5) Aggressive, move-forward fighter: Floyd is at his best in the center of the ring and when he gets off first. Manny will engage him in exchanges and continue moving forward. He is not the plodding, rough-him-up type, but more explosive combos before resetting. If Manny can avoid counter uppercuts around the ropes and effectively moves his head when throwing, he should be able to back Floyd up routinely.

6) Unique Angles: As mentioned, there’s no sparring partner to mirror Manny’s angles. They’re unconventional, imaginative, and not replicable. Floyd’s relatively impenetrable defense doesn’t account for how he can get around/between opponents’ guard.

7) Footwork. Manny’s greatest asset has always been his footwork. His explosiveness in closing/creating distance and scoring angles is elite. Whereas Floyd can rely on his ring smarts/hand speed to win exchanges, he’s never faced someone who will both willingly exchange with him and then also reset himself in good punching position without getting reckless/lazy.

2) Manny has more ways to win since he could conceivably knock out Floyd, but the opposite is not true.

-I’m far less convinced now that Manny could knock Floyd out. Manny’s power really hasn’t come up with him through all these weight classes. He still has very hard punches that do damage, but he hasn’t knocked anyone silly in a long time. And he hit Chris Algieri with some very hard shots… but didn’t knock him out. I definitely worry about Manny’s chin after the lights out KO he suffered in his fourth fight with Marquez. Nobody is ever completely the same after a total lights-out blow like that. I’ve seen enough to know you become more susceptible to KOs, etc., but Manny hasn’t looked much different in his recent fights after the KO. He’s not much slower (no more than standard aging would produce), less tentative (OK, maybe a tiny bit), or more prone to being hurt. He’s not been really hit by a Welterweight puncher with any significant pop, but he’s taken clean blows. I doubt either fighter scores a KO, so I think the safest bet of the night is that the fight goes 12 full rounds. (Over 11.5 Rounds = -300 (Bet 300, win $100))

3) Mayweather’s comfort level in exchanges would be a weakness against Manny

Floyd is straight up programmed to be a boxer. It’s uncanny. That said, his defensive instincts/reactions aren’t as adept to weird angles that Cotto and Maidana threw at him, and most of all those which Manny will throw at him. Floyd is used to winning almost all exchanges he’s in given his prowess for both defense and counter-punching. He’s the best at both in the last 20 years. That said, he isn’t the same flawless fighter he was 5-10 years ago, and if he doesn’t connect on his initial counters, he will be facing multiple punches with both hands from weird angles. That’s what Manny does. Mayweather’s comfort level in said exchanges will leave him vulnerable to the follow-up shots.

4) Along the ropes, Manny’s volume style would bother Floyd, or at least convince judges that he’s doing enough damage to squeak out rounds.

Manny doesn’t have a smothering style like Maidana, Cotto, and even Oscar De La Hoya employed against Floyd. That said, against the ropes, Manny will rip off 5, 6, 7, and even 8-punch combinations like this:


Notice how he lands around the guard without crowding him. He puts his opponent on the end of shots to maximize power. Now, Mayweather will be very dangerous here with uppercuts. VERY. However, Manny doesn’t even need to land a ton cleanly to win this fight. Simply by looking like he’s doing damage can rack up close rounds on the scorecard in his favor. This is significant and has led to all of the closely scored fights for Floyd in the last several years.

5) Manny steals 2-3 rounds on late flurries

Similar to the previous point, the scorecards will likely come into play since this likely goes the full 12 rounds. There’s likely to be several close rounds, and Manny’s late flurries (something he does often) is likely to steal him at least 2-3 rounds. Any one of those can be the difference of a 115-113 decision going his way.

6) Floyd is a 1-and-done puncher and will be out-landed in total

Floyd needs to be first as Paulie Malignaggi kept referencing during Mayweather-Maidana 1. If he is, he demoralizes people. I genuinely think Floyd will be out-thrown by over 200 punches, and out-landed by more than 50. It’s common for him to be drastically out-thrown. It’s not common for him to be out-landed. Pacquiao can only win if this happens (which would be a byproduct of establishing a varied jab and throwing punches in bunches).

7) Floyd would need to show skills he hasn’t in a long time: standing in middle of ring and winning an inside fight, slugfest, etc.

-Maidana 1 was a slugfest. I suppose so was his Cotto fight. When in the center of ring, he owned both. Floyd’s inability to dictate where fight took place is alarming and what made them interesting fights. Pacquiao could be the one guy who can land (not even win exchanges, just land) anything significant against Mayweather in the center of ring. I actually think this turns into a slugfest, and Floyd has now proven he can handle himself well in those types of fights. He remains calm, confident, and closes the show well. This point is no longer accurate.

Important point not mentioned: Manny’s demeanor when he gets hit. If you watch any of Manny’s earlier classics with Marquez, Morales, etc…he gets really fired up when gets tagged. Whereas Floyd nearly always frustrates his opponents by completely shutting down their respective offense (see: Canelo Alvarez, Robert Guerrero, and many others), and then they get wild and mentally defeated. Manny won’t do this. You’ll see when Mayweather lands flush right hands, Manny will bang his gloves together and look to return fire immediately. He’s one of those guys that needs to answer anything he takes on the chin. It’s why this fight has the potential to be a firefight.

End of the day: If Manny can establish his jab early, and continue to punch in combinations/high volumes, he will win what I expect to be a fantastic fight. I get the feeling this will be worth the wait, we’ll want a rematch, and I can’t wait to be there for it.

The betting options are:

Manny by KO, TKO, DQ: +400

Manny by Decision: +400

Manny to win: +160

Floyd by KO, TKO, DQ: +500

Floyd by Decision: -130

Floyd to win: -200

The most sensible bet would be to bet BOTH Manny by KO and Manny by Decision. While I think Decision is the far more likely scenario, betting $100 on both would return a $200 profit combined if Manny wins (regardless of how). If you just Bet on Manny winning, $200 investment only nets the bettor $120 in profit.

If you do like Floyd, I think the bet is to pick him by KO at +500. He should NOT be a 2-to-1 favorite, but I can definitely see a scenario where he catches Manny flush with counter uppercuts and right hands and potentially stops Manny.

Bottom line, this is a pick-em fight, and at +160, Manny is the better bet.

The Flurry:

-Gennady “GGG” Golovkin is the best fighter in boxing P4P. The only one who can give him a good fight (and possibly beat him) is Andre Ward. I expect we see that fight in 2016 despite Ward’s weight advantage. Kovalev is in top-10 for sure. As HBO’s cornerstones, those are great building blocks. Both are must-see TV for the hardcore fans… but is that enough?

-PBC is GREAT (so far) for boxing, and makes me happy to hear casual/non-fans talking about it. It’ll be interesting to see if Haymon tries to make it more like a “league” than a TV series, which seems to be the case. He could unify belts for real, and again that would be tremendous for boxing. If good guys keep fighting good guys (assuming you don’t have to be a “Haymon Guy” to fight in PBC), we don’t have these Manny-Floyd scenarios in the future. But will the Roc Nation guys be allowed on cards? Regardless, competition is good for business. HBO will need to continue to step up their games, adapt, or be left in the dust. That’s a good thing for fans as streaming media continues its takeover of media consumption in homes.

-Unless Adrien Broner takes major leaps forward technically, he’ll never be the #1 guy at 140/147. Less of a comment on him than a comment on the depth of superstar-level talent there (Crawford is fantastic, Matthyse a lurking threat, Garcia looks legit but is untested, Mikey Garcia is coming, Porter/Brook/Khan are all championship material, and even guys like Devon Alexander are tough outs).

-Hope to see Tim Bradley soon, he’s always entertaining and a top 10 P4P fighter.

-If Matthysse-Provodnikov doesn’t win FOY, it’s because Mayweather-Pacquiao will.

Photo From Will Hart/HBO


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An Unofficial Judge Scored 9 Rounds for Canelo; Feel Free to Hoot and Holler



auxiliary press

The auxiliary press section at the T-Mobile Arena is quite a distance from the boxing ring. I’ve been in auxiliary press sections before, but never one that was up so high. It was here that I found myself on Saturday night, peering down on the ring far below and like everyone else checking out the big screen between rounds for a closer look at key moments.

From this vantage point, the ring is both smaller and bigger. It’s bigger in the sense that it opens things up a bit. Your eyes see more space between the fighters and you are better able to judge which fighter is controlling the distance. Think of the picture from the overhead cam in a football game. Looking straight down, the playing field doesn’t look as congested. The holes that open for a North-South running back bursting into the secondary get wider and from this panorama you are better able to judge the work of the offensive line.

Having said that, this is really no place to adequately judge a boxing match, so I can be forgiven for scoring the fight 9-3 for Canelo. For what it’s worth, however, the fellow on my right had it the same. The fellow on my left had it somewhat tighter, but also scored it for Canelo. And for the record, neither of these guys were Hispanic so they weren’t blinded by tribal loyalty.

At the T-Mobile, when the main event ends, the scribes in the auxiliary press section are literally held hostage. They are prevented from going down to the post-fight press conference until the arena has thinned out.

This reporter couldn’t get his laptop to function properly and had no patience. I’m not comfortable working on my cellphone, so it was imperative that I get home in a jiff and be there when David Avila’s ringside report turned up in my e-mail. On a fight of this magnitude, the boss wants the bread-and-butter post-fight story up on the site in a hurry.

Aware of the hostage situation, and my own technological limitations, I had the foresight to scope out the arena for an escape route just in case I needed to get away fast. And so, before a hostage-taker could rope me in, I was off and running, scurrying down a little used staircase. I had my car parked in the right spot for a quick getaway, traffic was light, and I was home at my work desk in less than 30 minutes.

I didn’t wait around to hear the scores. To me it was a foregone conclusion that Canelo would have his hand raised. Heading home, I had the car radio tuned to an all-sports station. And when the scores came across the radio, I thought to myself, well, I was wrong and I was right. I thought GGG would win and I was wrong about that, but I was right, I thought to myself, that the judges would be disposed to give GGG the close rounds. In my mind, the scores (114-114 and 115-113 twice) gave GGG the best of it. Granted, several rounds were tough to score, but yet the fight wasn’t that close.

Au contraire !

To my amazement, the vast majority of those seated in the ringside press section scored the fight a draw or had it shaded toward Triple-G. In fact, according to one survey, which included those in the building and a select few watching at home or in a TV studio, only two of the 59 people that were polled had it for Canelo with 17 scoring it even. The most cantankerous of the GGG faction was ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas who apparently had it 117-112 and labeled the decision a robbery.

No I won’t defend my scoring. Let me see the fight on TV (and with the sound off, natch), and I’ll get back to you. But I’m still flabbergasted that my score was so out of whack with the consensus.

Odds and Ends

Although the fight was announced as a sellout, there were empty seats scattered around the arena. The announced attendance was 21,965, roughly 1,400 less than for the first encounter last September.

The first Canelo-GGG bout set the attendance record for an indoor fight in Nevada and came in third all-time in gate receipts, surpassed only by Mayweather-Pacquiao in 2015 and Mayweather-McGregor in August of last year. But that’s a distant third to the leader. The gross gate for Canelo-GGG I ($27,059,850) was far below Mayweather-Pacquiao which raked in an astounding $72,198,500.

Although there’s more money in circulation each year and more fat cats willing to pay an enormous sum to attend a mega-fight, I doubt the Mayweather-Pacquiao record for gate receipts will be broken any time soon.

The crowd, needless to say, was skewed heavily toward Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. And while it’s often said that members of this ethnic group are true fight fans, the reality is that when they come to Las Vegas they act just like the Anglo high rollers, which is to say that they arrive at a big fight fashionably late.

When the first of the four PPV fights started, the arena was not more than 15 percent full. When the semi-main started, the arena was perhaps one-third full, notwithstanding the fact that it was a title fight featuring a boxer from Tijuana.

The old outdoor fights at Caesars Palace were thick with celebrities who were acknowledged by the ring announcer. Saturday’s fight at the T-Mobile was something of a throwback. The roll call included movie stars Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Mark Wahlberg, comedians Dave Chappelle and Cedric the Entertainer, and sports personalities Lebron James, Charles Barkley, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Triple H – to name just a few.

Standing in the ring as GGG and Canelo made their way from their dressing rooms was a fashionably dressed woman wearing a dress that one would associate with a Latin country. I assumed she was there to sing the Mexican National Anthem. In my younger days, the Mexican National Anthem was sung so often at big fights in Las Vegas that I could eventually mouth the words.

But no, there was no National Anthem whatsoever, neither U.S., nor Mexican, nor Kazakhstani. I was told that they did do anthems before the first of the preliminary fights. This would have been about 3:00 in the afternoon when there were not more than a few hundred people in the joint.

Was this a reaction to the brouhaha set in motion by Colin Kaepernick? That’s a fair assumption.

Not only were the anthems missing, but so also was Michael Buffer, a fixture at HBO shows for decades. I’m told that he now works exclusively for Eddie Hearn. He’ll be back on the job this coming Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London.

Joe Martinez, Buffer’s replacement, did a solid job, as did referee Benjy Estevez who was working his first big fight in Nevada. Of course, Canelo and GGG made it easy for him. No matter your opinion of the scoring, I think we can all agree that these two great warriors engaged in a very clean fight.

By all accounts, this was a very good fight for the bookies. The expectation that there would be late Canelo money in Las Vegas on Mexican Independence Day weekend wasn’t born out. At one establishment, the odds favoring GGG rose from 7/5 to 9/5 (minus-180) in the last few hours of betting. I’m told that it nicked above 2/1 at a few places offshore.

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How Much Is Left for Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez?

I first wrote about Roman Gonzalez in 2010. He was a baby-faced 105lb shotgun then, but was not widely known. I predicted that he would be the world’s number



I first wrote about Roman Gonzalez in 2010. He was a baby-faced 105lb shotgun then, but was not widely known. I predicted that he would be the world’s number one fighter one day and also that when he eventually came undone, it would be against a southpaw.

I also predicted that, for Gonzalez, there would be no second act. Once undone, he would stay undone. Gonzalez was no Jake LaMotta, no sponge for acid, and to describe him as face first would be to do a disservice to the high guard and sleek slippage of punches that, even as a minimumweight, he was already exhibiting. I felt, however, that the purity of the violence he dealt in required a commitment that a hurtful defeat might undo. I also felt that super-flyweight would be his roof and that when he landed there he might find himself tangling with various immovable objects, where once give had been guaranteed.

So I was not surprised when southpaw superflyweight deluxe thug Srisaket Sor Rungvisai dropped him like a stone down a well late last year. I did have a bad feeling as regarded his comeback this weekend though.

An earlier aborted attempt at a return to action seemed to have been caused by the most disappointing of reasons, his perceived inability to make the 115lb limit in time. Once a fighter has decided to eat himself into the divisions above it’s rare to see him back at his old trim; the nightmarish vision of Gonzalez trying to compete with Naoya Inoue and Zolani Tete reared its ugly head momentarily, but Gonzalez set to work and made the grade, like he so often has.

A fight with Moises Fuentes at 115lbs was his reward.

Quantifying this opponent is important. Fuentes had, at one time, been ranked among the very best light-flyweights in the world. He exited that division after winning a crackling match with perennial warmonger Francisco Rodriguez and then losing by knockout to Kosoei Tanaka. After straying dangerously close to 120lbs and splitting a pair with Ulises Lara, he struggled back down to 112lbs only to be brutalized by Japanese prospect Daigo Higa in a single round. The word “shot” started to be muttered in connection with Fuentes in the wake of this result.

Gonzalez meanwhile was being marooned on the wrong side of history in his native Nicaragua as the country fell down around his ears. The political disaster wrought upon his people left him in an isolated position politically and, undoubtedly, with severe personal financial problems of his own.

So there were two desperate men sharing the ring on the undercard of Golovkin-Alvarez contest but to my eye, Gonzalez-Fuentes was far and away the most interesting match.

Gonzalez looked old and dry during the referee’s instructions, his expression hangdog, new folds of expression on his once smooth features. He looked down, not unusual, but he radiated a sliver of defeat where once there had been only surety.

Until the bell rang.

Gonzalez, in his prime, was among the best combination punches of the modern era. This has always been his stated mode of expression, eight to twelve punches his declared and terrifying target and he has proven himself capable of landing at the lower end of this range. Nor are these the “mixing” punches of, say, Joe Calzaghe, who cuffed and slapped and looked to land a meaningful punch in among the a stream of less hurtful shots. Gonzalez meant business.

As business boomed and he became the lineal flyweight champion of the world, he continued to add layers. By the time of his flyweight reign he had developed one of the most dangerous right hands in the world. He shaped it in all ways, he threw it at all ranges, he targeted head, body, chest, and such was his balance and stance that he did all of this without selling the punch. When Gonzalez dipped his left shoulder to throw a left-hook or uppercut, he could instead transplant that punch with a straight right.

Certainly not all of the above was confirmed against Fuentes. He wasn’t buying the space like he used to, developing strange angles to begin the withering barrages that we saw in his prime, but we did see him throw the same explosive and unexpected combinations, sometimes leading with the left-uppercut, a suicide punch for many fighters. And we saw him use that right hand.

We saw him feint with it to open up for the left and we saw him use it as a prop punch for a hook or uppercut, and we finally saw him unleash it, on the button, for what may be the knockout of the year.  Gonzalez rounded the brave Fuentes up, cornered him, and then knocked him unconscious with a punch that traveled through the target and “frightened” Gonzalez into thinking that he had legitimately hurt the Mexican.

His relief when Fuentes returned to us, cross-eyed and confounded, but unharmed, was palpable.

My pre-fight wish was that Gonzalez would look very bad and be forced to consider retirement, or very good, thereby hoping that my final prediction would be denied and “Chocolatito” could be declared back in the title hunt.

Though what we got is certainly more the latter than the former, in truth it is neither.

Gonzalez’s speed of foot had begun to betray him even before Rungvisai pole-axed him and although he looked sprightly at times here, he’s not going to be as quick at 115lbs as he was at 108. More, he landed a lot of punches on Fuentes and Fuentes stood up to them. When Gonzalez hit that kind of stride at 112lbs, even burning heart warriors like Akira Yaegashi wilted; Fuentes was able to rally several times which was good for the contest but makes clear that Gonzalez left his truly destructive power behind when he left his flyweight title behind. Murderous in landing the perfect shot, clubbing super-flyweight foes into submission is going to remain extremely challenging.

So when he comes up against a meaningful challenger, he will have to defeat him with craft, guile, and what remains one of the most fluid offenses in the sport. Many of his potential opponents will be faster than him and some will be able to hit as hard or harder.

Gonzalez will no doubt be in pursuit of a strap. This leaves him with three choices.

Rungvisai, the legitimate champion, we know about. Gonzalez may want a third fight and given the weakness of the matches on the most recent HBO Superfly card, it is far from impossible that it can be made. If it was made next, Rungvisai must be considered a heavy favorite.

The wonderful Filipino Jerwin Ancajas, too, holds a strap at the weight and he, too, should be avoided unless Gonzalez is determined to undertake an all-or-nothing swoop at a fighter entering his prime. This contest is not unwinnable for Gonzalez, but all things considered, it would arguably be the very best victory of his career if he were to pull it off.

Finally, there is Englishman Khalid Yafai.

Yafai is the right man. He is the type of fighter that Gonzalez has specialized in breaking since he turned pro; a fleet-footed, clever boxer short on dig and high on flurries. Yafai is definitely good enough to stay ahead for spells, he might even be good enough to win seven rounds, but he is not going to brutalize Gonzalez while he does it.    Here is a fight for a strap that Gonzalez would be favored to win.

Alas, promotional vagaries also make it the most difficult to make. But perhaps Gonzalez will bide his time. There are other meaningful contests to be made in a sprightly division undergoing yet another quality iteration.  Perhaps Gonzalez will seek a rematch with old foe Juan Francisco Estrada, still dangerous but underwhelming in his most recent contest. Perhaps a battle of the veterans can be sold to HBO and Gonzalez can tangle with Donnie Nietes. Or maybe power-brokers would be more excited to see him in with another mysterious old man from foreign shores and Gonzalez-Kazuto Ioka can be made.

These are all exciting fights and most of them can be made with a minimum of fuss.

So it’s Roman Gonzalez then, perhaps not quite back, but certainly warming up in the wings. And if the division isn’t quite trembling, it can at least be said to have thrown a quick look over its shoulder into the gathering gloom.

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A Tactical Change Paid Dividends for Canelo Alvarez vs. GGG

This past Saturday night Canelo Alvarez 50-1-2 (34) won a majority decision (114-114 and 115-113 twice) over Gennady Golovkin 38-1-1 (33) to capture Golovkin’s



night Canelo

This past Saturday night Canelo Alvarez 50-1-2 (34) won a majority decision (114-114 and 115-113 twice) over Gennady Golovkin 38-1-1 (33) to capture Golovkin’s three middleweight title belts at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. And like their first fight last September that ended in a majority draw, the decision has provoked controversy.

The amazing thing about Canelo and GGG is how evenly they’re matched and difficult their fights are to score. I scored the rematch 6-5-1 Canelo, (after seeing the first meeting 8-4 GGG) but it was so close that it could as easily gone to Golovkin by a point. But let’s get one thing clear: This fight was too close to be considered a robbery regardless of who had their hand raised. And when you take into account that Canelo forced Golovkin to fight in retreat, landed the more eye-catching shots, worked his body from the onset, and that Golovkin’s face was much more puffed up and lumpy at the end (although Canelo was cut), no way was the decision in favor of Canelo an injustice.

Stylistically, GGG is an attacker and Canelo is a counter-puncher. However, Canelo answered Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez’s call and didn’t run. No, he didn’t run in the first fight either, but in this fight, unlike the first, Canelo moved forward and initiated the exchanges. Golovkin’s jab, which is always reliable, worked overtime and kept Canelo from owning the exchanges, but like most attackers, GGG can’t hit as hard or be as effective if forced back. And because of that Canelo had no reservation in regards to forcing the fight. So when looking at what stood out the most, it was Canelo’s more imaginative offense and body punching, thus forcing Golovkin to go away from what he’s done best and in every other fight of his career, and that no doubt influenced the judges. Moreover, Golovkin noticeably flinched a few times at feints and was unwilling to pay the price of going to the body entailed to win.

Prior to the rematch it was said in this space how two things would unfold when they met the second time. Quoting from the June 20th TSS preview:

Based on the strategic options for both, Canelo has more room to be better and change things up to level the fight. And then there’s the business side of the equation and I’ve been around too long to fathom that if it’s closer this time GGG will get the decision. A Canelo win sets the rubber match up perfectly because in the eyes of boxing fans and PPV buyers they’ll view them as being 1-1. For the reasons stated above, as much as I’d like to be wrong (and there’s no fun pouring cold water on something so widely anticipated), I don’t think that will be the case. It’s a monumental reach for me to think GGG can win a decision unless he beats Canelo beyond recognition – which I don’t believe he can. Therefore Canelo-GGG goes the distance and Alvarez, being more competitive this time, gets the decision and that sets up the rubber match for Cinco De Mayo weekend 2019.

The fact is, Canelo being the more versatile fighter completely flipped the script after fighting mostly in retreat and with his back to the ropes during most of their first encounter. His aggression and willingness to stand his ground the way GGG did the first time, projected that Canelo was the more willing fighter and he was obviously rewarded for that. Granted, Golovkin really dug down and showed his strong constitution during the second half of the fight after being told by his corner he was losing. He fought a terrific fight, as did Canelo, but it wasn’t enough for GGG because he left too many rounds up for grabs, which was suicide with Canelo forcing the fight.

The result shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone, especially since the fight was so close and could come down to whose style you liked better or who you were rooting for. There was no definitive winner of this fight. Sure, a draw would’ve been a fair call. The problem with that, however, is that Team Golovkin knew they had to be more assertive and erase any semblance of doubt this time, due to GGG being excoriated in some circles for not getting off enough in the last bout and never slamming the door to prevent Canelo from tightening the fight with a rally, the way he did down the stretch. This time GGG got off a little more, but that was because he was mostly fighting to prevent Canelo from overwhelming him with his aggression. In a way it’s ironic how Canelo accepted the challenge and fought Golovkin in a more macho way and it knocked Golovkin off his game.

One tries not to be redundant, but like the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB…..boxing is a business and is star driven. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is a superstar fighter in the eyes of the boxing establishment and many fans. There’s no guesswork needed to grasp that it’s good for business for him to keep winning. His determination, skill and toughness exhibited against a monster like Golovkin might endear him to fans more than ever. Canelo fought a better fight than the first time and put to rest the rumor that he was aided by PEDS.

The net result is exactly what the boxing establishment, not the fans, needed. And that was a win for Canelo in a fight where it was tough to pick the winner with Canelo acting as more the predator than the prey. By forcing GGG to break more exchanges, working both the body and head, along with never appearing tired or overwhelmed, it was just enough to win the borderline rounds in the eyes of the judges and tilt the fight in his favor. In fact, Golovkin, over Canelo’s protest, had Dave Moretti as a judge for the fight. He was the only judge who scored the first clash for Gennady. And this time he scored it for Canelo and may have tipped his hand when he gave the 12th round to Canelo, perhaps knowing it could swing the fight in his favor….and it did.

This decision cannot be lambasted like others we’ve seen. GGG didn’t suffer a loss of esteem in losing and Canelo finally has a statement win over a marque fighter. They’ll fight a third time and it will be perceived as a rubber match. Golovkin will be almost another year older and less than what he was this past weekend and Canelo will win more conclusively while avoiding the young lions nipping at his heels named Charlo, Saunders and Andrade.

Because boxing is and always has been star driven, Gennady just can’t put enough separation between he and Canelo to get the decision. Their rematch is one of the few fights I’ve seen that really could’ve gone either way – it’s just that a push usually goes to the combatant who is better for business.

The next time there’s a real close fight on paper, and it’s unlikely to end in a knockout or stoppage, you must ask what result better sets up the next big bout. The formula isn’t fool proof. De La Hoya-Trinidad and Pacquiao-Bradley I are glaring exceptions, but more often than not you’ll cash your ticket. In this case a Canelo win sets up fight three more than a Golovkin win would’ve….and knowing GGG won’t walk away from the fortune at stake, he’ll go for it.

Photo credit: Tom Hogan / Hoganphotos / Golden Boy Promotions

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at

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