Photo, Al Bello Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV. In the most anticipated middleweight boxing match in recent history Saul Canelo Alvarez 49-1-2 34KO’s and Gennady GGG Golovkin 37-0-1 33KO’s met after a series of circumstances that made the public believe they were in for a roller coaster ride of negotiations mirroring Mayweather vs Pacquiao. Canelo vs Golvkin would not be as troubling for the fistic loyalists and in front of 22,358 screaming fans Canelo and Golovkin squared off at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas.
During the fight week build up for the event, predictions were split right down the middle among media and fans. Golovkin has been masterfully marketed by K2 promoter Tom Loefller with his Mexican Style branding to siphon a major portion of the boxing rabid Hispanic fanbase of the southwestern United States and the crowd showed up for both.
Opening the fight Canelo boxed masterfully using his upper body defense making Golovkin miss to return fire with three, four, and five punch combinations to give him a clear edge early. In the fourth round Golovkin began to take over using double and triple jabs to keep Canelo at distance to setup right hands and stay out of range of Canelo’s counter punches. In the fifth round both fighters exchanged punches near the corner that sent the crowd into a frenzy with both Canelo and Golovkin nodding their heads and smiling at each other to recognize that they knew they were giving the fans the big drama show.
Golovkin appeared to take control over a tiring Alvarez until the twelfth and final round when both fighters traded big shots, fighting until the final bell. Judge Dave Moretti scored 115-113 for Golovkin Don Trella scored 114-114 a draw and Adelaide Byrd brought the scorecard she filled out at home before the fight that read 118-110 for Alvarez ending the most anticipated fight of this post-Mayweather generation with a draw.
“I want to thank all of my fans from Mexico” “he has experience I wanted true fight” “Look I still have all my belts, I am still the champion. Yes I want a rematch”. Said Golovkin to HBO’s Max Kellerman.
“If the fans demand a rematch then we will do it” Said Canelo setting up a sequel for next May. “I thought I won the fight. I was superior inside the ring. I won at least 7…8 of the rounds. I was able to counterpunch and even make Gennady Golovkin wobble a couple of times. It’s up to the people if we fight again, I feel frustrated over this draw.”
South El Monte fighter Joseph “Jojo” Diaz 25-0 13KO’s didn’t face the fearsome Jorge Lara in the barn burner everyone was expecting after Lara mysteriously injured his back three days before the fight. Rafael Rivera answered the call to step in and face Diaz and probably earned himself a return to a future card. Diaz controlled the fight, punching off his jab and firing combinations on Rivera. Rivera would have his moments and land hard shots of his own but the night belonged to Diaz.
On scores of 119-109 twice and 120-108 Diaz sets up a title shot against Gary Russell Jr. that possibly may never take place because of the sports politics unfortunately. “I feel like I had a good performance overall. I was able to put pressure and dictate the pace of the fight, and be able to enter into a lot of exchanges. Rivera is strong, has good body shots, and had good speed. I think we gave them a good show tonight.” Said Diaz after the fight
Diego De La Hoya 20-0 9KO’s faced former Champion Randy “El Matador” Caballero 24-1 14KO’s in a local feud that gained interest after a scrum at yesterday’s weigh in. The fight wouldn’t be as competitive as the weigh in, De La Hoya was the clear sharper and faster of the two and boxed his way to a near complete shutout victory over the game Caballero.
Caballero has had a rough streak since winning the IBF bantamweight title over Stuart Hall in 2015, first having surgery and cancelling his first defense; then failing to make weight for a defense with interim titlist Lee Haskins and losing his title on the scale without ever defending or throwing a punch. Health issues have plagued Caballero who has only fought three times now in the last two years.
De La Hoya not only checked the box in winning a step up in competition, he won impressively. Landing check left hooks, counter right hands and uppercuts the young fighter from Baja is starting to separate himself as a fighter from famous cousin Oscar. On scores of 100-90 and 98-92 twice De La Hoya rolled to victory and places himself in the picture for a title shot in 2018. “I trained for this fight, knowing it was going to be a really great battle. All my sacrifice, I fueled into this fight.” Said De La Hoya after the fight.
Opening the nights action Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin 20-0 11KO’s faced tough Francisco Rojo 19-3 12KO’s of Mexico City. Martin is a banner prospect for promoter K2 and continues to win but still hadn’t had a high-profile opportunity to shine until getting the opening act assignment for Canelo vs GGG.
Martin used his height and length as expected but the reluctance to throw more than one or two shots at a time left the door open for a very game Rojo. Rojo pressed forward, attacking the long body of Martin and looked to be in control of the tempo down the stretch. Martin was warned for low blows by referee Russel Mora throughout the fight until Mora deducted a point from Martin in the ninth round.
At the sound of the final bell official scores read 96-93, 95-94 for Martin and 98-91 for Rojo to give Martin the split decision victory. “I didn’t feel 100% tonight, even though I got the split decision. I know I fought a good fight despite the adversity in the ring. I know the judge that scored in favor of Rojo recognized good boxing in him. I’m glad I have this new belt and it’s on to the next.” Said Martin after the fight.