The final bell in Las Vegas this past weekend brought an end to the third and final chapter of the fierce rivalry between Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin and saw the two men share a welcomed embrace.
It was Canelo who had his hand raised for the second time during the course of their trilogy, this time defending his undisputed super-middleweight titles with a dominant unanimous decision victory at the T-Mobile Arena.
After 36 rounds across three fights during a five-year period, the pair finally put a respectful end to their ongoing differences and heaped praise on each other during post-fight interviews.
There was a major contrast to the controversial conclusions of their first two fights. A dubious draw in their first meeting left Golovkin frustratingly without a career-defining triumph on his record, with most sensible observers having scored in his favour.
A year later in 2018, GGG was on the end of a losing decision in a closer and less contentious rematch result. Four years on, Canelo’s latest trilogy victory left no lingering doubts over scores; instead earning a decisive nod from the judges at ringside.
With a sense of irony it was the two close 115-113 score cards that raised eyebrows, with the judges perhaps giving GGG a sympathetic verdict for his efforts and past Sin City setbacks.
While Canelo was a clear-cut victor, he had help from Father Time in overcoming the once destructive middleweight champion, as Golovkin looked a shell of his former formidable self.
Canelo vs. GGG 3 Fight Breakdown
It became apparent in the early rounds that Golovkin’s four-year pursuit of his Mexican nemesis, for a third showdown, had seemingly become more about landing one more financially lucrative outing than realistically gaining redemption.
GGG had shown signs of slipping in his stoppage win over Ryota Murata last April but the evidence of decline was more prominent in the opening rounds against Canelo.
The Mexican was able to capitalise on a very slow start from GGG, who was moving up in weight for the first time in his career, and never looked in any danger for the first time in the trilogy.
Golovkin has been regarded for his decisive jab throughout his career and was able to utilise it in the first two Canelo meetings. This time, it was Canelo who out-jabbed the jabber and used his own to his advantage.
With GGG’s speed and reflexes at 40 years old clearly inferior to that of his 32-year-old rival, Canelo made him hesitant to commit to his jab with the fear of quick counters coming back over his lead hand.
While Canelo isn’t known as a busy fighter at this stage of his career, he was still the far more active puncher in the early rounds, which helped him build up a comfortable lead.
There had been plenty of talk around Canelo’s potential body attack hurting or even stopping GGG here but it wasn’t as sustained as predicted. Though, the Mexican did slow the Kazakh down further with some targeted body shots and, intentionally or not, he landed many shots to the hips of the ageing fighter too.
Canelo was able to dictate the pace of the fight from the start, which his whole pressure-style is based around. This allowed him to preserve some energy while putting the pressure on the older Golovkin from centre ring, walking him back and making him use his ageing legs more.
The undisputed champion was able to land more eye-catching shots than in the previous two fights with GGG. His overhand right was a key shot, which he set up by using the double jab to step in and close the distance.
Canelo was feinting down and throwing a sustained left hook as GGG’s was stepping back, which was landing frequently to mark him up on the right side of his face.
While Canelo built up a clear lead, Golovkin was able to finally begin getting into the fight in the later rounds. But, by the time he found his groove, it was far too late to salvage any hope on the scores.
In fact, it was Canelo who looked the more fatigued fighter towards the closing stages. But he was able to see out proceedings without taking too much damage with his head movement and high guard, to earn a clear decision success.
What’s Next For Canelo And GGG?
The respectful embrace between both men at the final bell was a welcomed sight after years of going at each other physically and verbally in a tense rivalry.
Despite time clearly catching up on Golovkin throughout the trilogy fight, he immediately shut down any talk of retirement.
Now a free agent and still the current unified middleweight champion, GGG still has options at his usual weight to carry on his career into his 40’s. Jermall Charlo is a potentially massive showdown, while Chris Eubank Jr. has also called him out.
Canelo admitted to requiring surgery and a break from the sport after the fight, meaning the pound-for-pound star may not be in the ring again for up to a year.
His main aim is still to avenge his loss to light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, if the latter gets by Gilberto Ramirez in his latest title defence, while David Benavidez is another potential foe if he remains at super-middleweight.
A once great fighter, Golovkin again proved that time is an opponent that no fighter can ever avoid in this unforgiving sport, while it slowly creeps up on Canelo too.
But for now, respect has been earned between previously bitter rivals, as Canelo and GGG both prepare for the next stage of their careers without each other being involved for the first time in half a decade.
Header image: Matchroom Boxing