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Golovkin Talks P4P Throne, And A Mayweather Return

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A vaucum is there to be filled, with Floyd Mayweather making a global trek to stave off boredom, or maybe, go on a smell the roses retirement tour.

Who will plop their tush onto that throne Mayweather has called his for so many moons, and the sports’ top player?

Gennady Golovkin is first to audition; he gets his chance to show his wares–his A grade punching power, mainly–on Saturday evening, in NYC, and has been showing us his personality this week, leading up to fight night.

He took queries from some fight writers before the Wednesday presser to thump the tub for the Saturday K2/Golden Boy PPV program, and I took an opportunity to mention Mayweather.

Yeah, his shadow still somewhat looms over the sport…

What do you think of Mayweather leaving and the fact that he didn’t step up and prove something by going to 160 and challenging you, 3G?

“Floyd, he’s not finished, he’s good businessman. He’s very smart guy. He still has plans in the future,” Golovkin told me.

Does he still think maybe he can get in with Floyd? “I hope, I hope absolutely, yes. This is boxing, very short life, sport life, why not this is big chance for us!”

Yep, shadow still there. Floyd’s still “the money man.” It will take a while for some dust to swirl, and then settle, before we get clarity on who is the best man standing.

Follow Woods on Twitter. https://twitter.com/Woodsy1069

Here is the release sent out with quotes from the presser:

GOLOVKIN VS. LEMIEUX

MIDDLEWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE UNIFICATION

FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE PHOTOS/QUOTES

Photo Credit: Hogan Photos – Goldenboy Promotions

New York City (October 14, 2015) In front of a huge collection of New York sports media, Boxing superstar and WBA/IBO and WBC “Interim” World Champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, (33-0, 30KO’s) and IBF Middleweight World Champion David Lemieux, (34-2, 31KO’s) held court for the final time just three days prior to their Middleweight World Title Unification battle at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden and produced and distributed live on HBO Pay-Per-View set for this Saturday, Oct. 17.

Fighting out of Los Angeles, California, Golovkin is returning to Madison Square Garden for the fourth time where an expected sold-out audience will await him in his first world title unification bout and headlining his first HBO Pay-Per-View event. Lauded from fans and media worldwide as one of the sports premier boxers, Golovkin has stopped his last 20 opponents in a row and has compiled a 91% knockout ratio, the highest in middleweight division history.

Lemieux burst onto the US boxing scene with a thunderous tenth round stoppage of Gabriel Rosado on December 6, 2014 in Brooklyn, New York also his HBO debut. On June 20th, the Montreal, Canada native was victorious over Hassan N’Dam earning the IBF Middleweight World Championship.

Gennady Golovkin, WBA, IBO, and WBC Interim Middleweight Champion:

“Good afternoon, I am happy to be here again. Madison Square Garden is like my second home.

“I want to thank my team and my family for this opportunity.

“Thanks to HBO for all of the support and bringing the biggest stage to us.

“Thanks to K2 Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions for making this amazing deal for us for this great unification fight.

David Lemieux, IBF Middleweight Champion:

“Wow! Hello New York! I can’t be more proud to be here today. I know I came a long way to get here.

“I am not going to stand up here and talk about training camp, I am sure Golovkin and I know that at our level we are going to be at our best selves.

“I have faced victories, defeats, but nothing is more exciting and more gratifying than victory such as I am planning on Saturday.

“I have made a lot of changes in my life. All of I what I have done has lead me here and I am extremely excited and proud to be here. I am here to make history and I promise that I have done everything it takes to make sure that I don’t leave empty handed I will leave with the belts.”

Tom Loeffler, Managing Director of K2 Promotions:

“The event is international event, the main event is international, the co-main and undercard represent countries from around the world, plus we have over 120 countries broadcasting the fight.

“We also have the best co-feature possible, Gonzalez vs. Viloria is going to be a tremendous compliment to these two gentlemen [Golovkin and Lemieux]. Both fights are going to be exciting and are the types of fights that can’t be missed, they can end at any second.

“I want to thank everyone from K2, HBO and Golden Boy for all their hard work promoting this fight. I also want to thank all of the staff behind the scenes their perfect dance partners to this fighting game.

“Goldenboy Promotions has been a perfect partner for this fight, everyone one has been great to work with.

“We are building a global star with GGG, and our goal is to keep promoting him on a global level.

“Abel Sanchez has taken a terrific amateur fighter and made him one of the most efficient and most aggressive professional boxers in the world. He deserves the credit for Gennady’s Mexican Style boxing and had 20 KO’s in a row.”

Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions:

“What a beautiful country! Only in the USA can you have a fighter from Canada, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Cuba, and the Bahamas sell-out the Madison Square Garden, God Bless the USA!

“I have been involved in some of the biggest boxing events in history and have promoted most of them. This feels like a mega event not only because the Madison Square Garden is selling out but you can feel the electricity you can feel the energy.

“This fight is the type that will keep you at the edge of your seat. It’s been a while since we have seen one of these events and we are proud to bring a card from top to bottom that is full of great fights that feature the next generation of great boxers.”

Bernard Hopkins, Future Hall of Famer and Golden Boy Promotions Partner:

“We made a commitment to boxing fans, to work with any promoter who share the same vision to put on the best fights for fans. I don’t want to pat ourselves on our back just yet, but I want you to judge us as times go by. We want to put on the big fights we want to give you the best fights and want to work with people with the same mentality.

“Let me tell you about the chills that I get being at here at Madison Square Garden presenting the next middleweight unification fight. Unification is very rare, 14 plus years ago we had that. You get a chance to see a that now. We need more of this. We need to work together to out-do the competition.

“Madison Square Garden is where some strange things that happen and I know that personally. In David, we have a guy who can win, but he understands that he needs to be near if not perfect to win.”

Abel Sanchez, Head Trainer to Gennady Golovkin:

“I look forward to matching boxing smarts with Marc, he is an excellent trainer. And I look forward to an explosive fight where no one will be disappointed.”

Camille Estephan, President of Eye of the Tiger Management:

“This is a fantastic show on the 17th. This is a great week for boxing and this fight will be talked about for ages to come. It will be a war.

“I want to echo the thanks for everyone involved. All the staff who have worked hard on this event; HBO, Mark, and Peter; and the promoters K2 Promotions, GGG Promotions and a special thanking you for Golden Boy Promotions.

“I also want to thank David for being who he is. We are here for a conquest we will go back home with these belts, David is ready.”

“This is a special moment that we have been preparing for over the years. Don’t underestimate us, the proof is in the pudding. We are very confident in David and congratulate Marc Ramsay who has engineered these conquests.”

Marc Ramsay, Head Trainer to David Lemieux:

“We have had a tough but very successful training camp. It was brutal but we reached every goal.

“David raised his boxing to a different level. Everything was perfect, there were no problems and we have no excuses we only have promises of victory.”

Mark Taffet, Senior Vice-President/HBO Sports:

“We have been talking about a pay-per-view fight for Golovkin for a number of years. When we first met that was one of the first questions we were asked when Golovkin came on to the network. Finally, you can say that Golovkin is on Pay-Per-View, you have GGG on PPV.

“David Lemieux is a champion in his own right and I want to make sure we have everything covered so we can see David on PPV as well.

“Who will stand on the mountain to carry the sport on his shoulders? Who will be recognized as the best pound-for-pound fighter? Golovkin vs. Lemieux is not only a battle of champions, where each fighter carries a devastating record of 90% knock-out ration each, but it’s the first step to determining the next era of boxing.

Joel Fisher, Executive Vice-President at Madison Square Garden:

“Madison Square Garden is “The Mecca of Boxing,” it has hosted greats like Tyson, Frazier, Sugar Ray, Hagler, Joe Lewis, Gorge Foreman and two greats sitting here today, Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins.

“Bernard Hopkins specifically fought here 14 years ago and beat “Tito” Trinidad to become the unified middleweight world champion, and now we have Golovkin and Lemieux continuing that tradition.

“Golovkin and Lemieux may walk in the footsteps of these greats.

“This fight is a can’t miss event. Don’t look away, don’t blink, because you may miss all the action.

“We have had a tremendous sale. A historic pre-sale which has broken records at the Garden. We are almost sold out; we only have a handful of scattered seats that were freed up from production so at this point the show is technically sold out. And on Saturday I will be happy to announce a sell out crowd.

“To commemorate the tremendous sale I would like to congratulate Golovkin and Lemieux with a silver ticket on behalf of Madison Square Garden.”

David Berlin, Executive Director of the New York State Athletic Commission:

“It is a common knowledge that there is no venue with richer boxing history than Madison Square Garden. The event is elevated because of the venue, and the quality of the fights and fighters on this card. It will add to boxing’s rich history here at Madison Square Garden.

“We have the top two pound-for-pound fighters fighting on this card – Roman Gonzalez, who leads the co-main event is remarkable for a flyweight. I know he has his press conference tomorrow, but I will say now we are thrilled to welcome him to NYC where he will be facing his toughest opponent in Brian Viloria.

“In the main event we have the making of a classic, two power punchers. Golovkin who is 33-0 with 30 KO’s and Lemieux, who is 34-2 with 31 KO’s are in a sport where a single punch can change the outcome of the whole a fight. This is the kind of fight fans want to see.

“Both fighters have the ability to deliver and also to take a punch. I want to assure you that the New York State Athletic Commission is going to be here to play its role and make sure that the fighter who earns the victory has his hand raised at the end with confidence.”

Golovkin vs. Lemieux is presented by K2 Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions in association with GGG Promotions and Eye of the Tiger Management and is sponsored by Corona Extra, BI Group and Tsesnabank. The event will take place Saturday, October 17 from Madison Square Garden and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. Doors will open at 7:00 p.m. ET and the first fight begins at 7:05 p.m. ET.

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

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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

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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

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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 GlovedFist@gmail.com

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