by Cliff Rold
In the end, Adelaide Byrd and CJ Ross may have done more damage to middleweight king Saul Alvarez than any opponent.
Saturday night was a razor thin fight with swing rounds in healthy supply. Alvarez bit down from the start, taking the fight to a Golovkin who spent large chunk of the fight working off the jab and backing up for room to counter. Then they shifted, Gennady Golovkin coming on late with the sort of attacking style that made him a fan favorite over the years.
It was physical, grueling, and both men absorbed some incredible punches. A draw was possible again and more realistic this time around. One judge saw it that way. Two saw it at 115-113, or seven rounds to five, and that would also have been fair either way.
Some of the anger from those who thought it went the wrong way might be less about Alvarez winning and more about the history on the way to this bout.
Byrd’s ridiculous 10-2 score in the first Golovkin fight, and Ross’s even more absurd draw scorecard in Alvarez-Floyd Mayweather, have tainted Alvarez in a way that will hover over every close fight he has the rest of his career. There was nothing wrong with the outcome on Saturday night but the perception those two scores create that every benefit goes to Alvarez isn’t going to go away.
Marry that with the animosity Alvarez absorbed from the years Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez, and Miguel Cotto did not fight Golovkin, the wait for the first Golovkin fight, the majority unofficial view that Golovkin won that fight, and Alvarez’s PED test result delay for the rematch, and the recipe for a new controversy is easy to understand.
It doesn’t make it right. This fight was its own thing, its own twelve rounds that had to be decided by what occurred in just its isolated moment.
Judged solely in that vacuum, shorn of all baggage, we got a damn good fight decided fairly. That should be what matters.
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Alvarez: As the biggest active draw in North America, Alvarez wasn’t short of options before Saturday and he won’t be running out of them anytime soon. The lineal king of the class retains history’s crown for the third time and picks up the WBC and WBA “super” straps. David Lemieux was a winner on the undercard and shares a promoter with Alvarez. That looks like a logical next stop. If Alvarez opts to keep both belts, there could be some real intrigue next year. Former Jr. middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo is the WBC interim titlist at middleweight and the looming mandatory. Charlo fights under the Al Haymon umbrella and might be the most dangerous opponent in the division. There is little doubt Alvarez would be willing to fight him but would the two sides be able to make the fight? Then there is something few would have thought seriously about before Saturday. Floyd Mayweather is teasing a return for a Manny Pacquiao rematch. If he follows through, and wins there again, Mayweather-Alvarez II would be a thought bubble hanging over 2019. Off the Golovkin win, and given Mayweather’s age, there would be more than enough suspense about whether a rematch would be different than the Jr. middleweight clash between Alvarez and Mayweather. It might be the one fight that could threaten the all-time numbers of Mayweather-Pacquiao.
The Future for Golovkin: Based on how this scribe saw their two fights, Golovkin needed a win to score a draw and a draw was a loss against the brand name rival he sought for so long. It has to be a bitter pill to swallow. He had every right to feel he was denied the victory he earned the first time. He can’t feel that way this time. At 36, life isn’t going to get easier. Golovkin needed to find a way to win decisively against Alvarez in the way Hagler did against Hearns and Hopkins did against Trinidad to cement the power of the numbers he amassed in a less than loaded era. He’s had a fantastic career and one that might have looked different if he had lured any of the men who chose rewards for less perceived risk along the way. That doesn’t change that his record lacks a certain depth of quality opposition and now lacks a signature win as well. His best hope is for Alvarez to defeat Lemieux, drop the WBC strap, and be in position for a third match next fall. Everyone sounded open to a rematch after the fight. In the meantime, Golovkin against someone like Japan’s Ryoto Murata could be a hell of a way to kill time.
Rold Picks 2018: 30-12
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]