By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – The long-awaited showdown between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin came to about as anticlimactic of a conclusion as possible Saturday night.
The hard-hitting middleweights battled to a 12-round draw in a highly competitive bout that attracted an animated, sellout crowd of 22,358 to T-Mobile Arena. Judge Adalaide Byrd scored the closely contested fight 118-110, which means she gave 10 of the 12 rounds to Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs).
Judge Dave Moretti scored the HBO Pay-Per-View main event 115-113 for Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs). Judge Don Trella scored it even, 114-114, which it a draw.
The inconclusive ending aside, both boxers landed their fair share of power shots and displayed the iron chins for which they have become known in an compelling clash that featured some dramatic moments.
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin, 35, was the aggressor throughout their bout and retained his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBC middleweight titles. Mexico’s Alvarez, 27, is still The Ring magazine and lineal middleweight champion because no one has beaten Alvarez since he soundly defeated Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto for the WBC, Ring and lineal middleweight titles in November 2015.
The rematch clause in their contracts called for Golovkin to give Alvarez a rematch if he won. Alvarez wouldn’t have owed Golovkin a rematch had he won.
Nevertheless, the competitive and entertaining nature of their fight Saturday night figures to lead to an immediate rematch. Alvarez told HBO’s Max Kellerman in the ring that he thinks he won decisively, but that he also would welcome a second fight.
“In the first rounds I came out to see what he had,” said Alvarez, who added that he wasn’t affected by Golovkin’s vaunted power. “Then I was building from there. I think I won eight rounds. … I felt that I won the fight.”
Golovkin wasn’t as definitive during his interview with Kellerman, but their fight seemed to unfold the way Moretti and Trella scored it. The draw also marked the second straight fight in which Golovkin went 12 rounds following 23 straight knockouts.
“My focus is on the belts and I’m still the champion,” said Golovkin, who won a close unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs in his previous fight. “It’s not my fault [it was a draw]. I put the pressure on.”
Unofficial CompuBox statistics credited Golovkin for landing 218-of-703 punches, 49 more than Alvarez (169-of-505).
Alvarez landed more power punches, though, according to CompuBox (114-of-272 to 110-of-342). CompuBox also counted nearly twice as many jabs for Golovkin (108-of-361 to 55-of-233).
Sensing the fight would be extremely close on the cards, Alvarez and Golovkin came out swinging to start the 12th round. Alvarez hit Golovkin with a combination early in the round, yet Golovkin just shook it off and came forward, as he had done numerous other times in the fight.
Golovkin took a hard right uppercut from Alvarez later in the 12th. They spent the remaining moments of the final round winging hard shots at each other, with little success.
Alvarez landed a straight right hand near the halfway point of the 11th round, but Golovkin kept coming after him.
A rejuvenated Alvarez opened up the 10th round by attacking Golovkin and hitting him with a straight right hand that helped knock Golovkin off-balance after he missed with a counter right hand. The rest of the 10th round included some rare clinching, but both boxers unloaded power punches that mostly didn’t land near the round’s conclusion.
Golovkin buzzed Alvarez with a vicious overhand right to his jaw early in the ninth round. Alvarez eventually responded with a huge right hand to Golovkin’s jaw, but it didn’t prevent Golovkin from moving forward.
The challenger landed a left-right combination toward the end of the ninth, but Golovkin again took it well, shook his head and kept pursuing Alvarez.
Golovkin had some success early in the eighth round, especially with a left uppercut, but that seemed to wake up Alvarez. He came firing back in the center of the ring and later landed a right uppercut that got Golovkin’s attention.
Golovkin pursued Alvarez throughout the seventh round, a three-minute span in which Alvarez didn’t throw many punches and mostly moved away from his heavy-handed opponent. Alvarez appeared to start tiring at that point, but was much more active in the eighth round.
Alvarez drilled Golovkin with a right hand early in the sixth round, after Golovkin had backed him toward the ropes. Golovkin was warned by Bayless later in the sixth for a low blow.
Golovkin and Alvarez both landed hard right hands to each other’s head with around one minute left in the fifth round. Each fighter shook his head to let his opponent know he wasn’t hurt.
The action and showmanship drew loud cheers from the decidedly pro-Alvarez crowd.
Golovkin backed Alvarez against the ropes just before the midway mark of the fourth round. A cautious Golovkin couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity because he was wary of Alvarez’s counter shots.
Alvarez still didn’t do much in the fourth round, which Golovkin mostly spent pursuing him around the ring.
Golovkin started the third round by connecting with a right hand to Alvarez’s head. Alvarez took it well, though, was able to continue landing lefts to Golovkin’s body and connected with a flush left uppercut to Golovkin’s chin.
Golovkin landed a left hook to Alvarez’s head just before that round came to an end.
Alvarez began landing lefts to the body in the second round, when Golovkin had difficulty finding his range. Alvarez also landed a right hand as Golovkin missed with his own right hand toward the end of the second round.
Despite all of the pre-fight hype about this fight mirroring the tremendous three-round brawl between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns 32 years ago, the fight started pretty slowly.
Golovkin and Alvarez were mostly cautious in the first round as they attempted to get a feel for each other. Alvarez landed a hard body shot against Golovkin and a hard right hand to his head, but missed with a right uppercut that wouldn’t done damage had it landed.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.