The boxing world hoped for the best. The possibility was always there for a slower, older Gennadiy Golovkin to be too much less of what he was in 2017 and 2018. On Saturday, Alvarez-Golovkin III didn’t produce the fireworks their first two encounters did.
Golovkin was still good enough for a late push to turn what had been a dull, boring fight somewhat interesting, starting around the final minute of the eighth round. Alvarez slowed down and Golovkin found some fortune with the uppercut, backing up Alvarez a few times. It was like watching The Temptations decades after they topped the charts.
The notes might not have been as sharp, the moves not as crisp, but late in the fight, Alvarez and Golovkin played the hits and gave some of what those watching came to see.
In the end, a series about scorecards as much as performance gave us two more doozies with a pair of judges (David Sutherland, Steve Weisfeld) finding five rounds for Golovkin. No, those scores still aren’t as bad as Adelaide Byrd scoring the first fight 118-110 (ten rounds to Alvarez), but two questionable cards is too many.
Coming off a defeat to Dmitry Bivol at light heavyweight, the job for Alvarez was to defend the super middleweight title and finally defeat Golovkin without debate. It was a mission accomplished. Alvarez used his speed to outjab Golovkin and use largely single pot shots to the head and body to handcuff his foe.
It didn’t have to be a great fight and wasn’t. The outcome was clear though and now everyone knows the window has closed on a saga that really started the night Alvarez won the lineal middleweight crown from Miguel Cotto. Golovkin may not have (officially) received the outcome that polished his run as the best middleweight of his era but he got the monster paydays that eluded him for a long time.
Alvarez got to come into his full prime through the years of the rivalry, elevating his regard as a professional and securing his place among the legends of Mexican boxing. Alvarez might not be the best his home country has ever produced, but his name will come up in those conversations long after we’re gone.
His name will keep coming up in conversations about the immediate future as well.
Futures: Alvarez said after the fight he’s taking a break. Now 32, the guess here is that break will extend no further than Cinco De Mayo weekend 2023. Keen eyes will turn to Bivol’s light heavyweight defense against Gilberto Ramirez later this year. Alvarez said he still wants that rematch. Bivol is in with a live opponent and has a real task ahead of him.
The brain trust around Alvarez may want to encourage him to look elsewhere if Bivol retains. The younger, longer, larger Bivol is likely to be better in a return and their first fight wasn’t exactly a barnburner. There is also the case of the crown Alvarez wears.
Alvarez is the undisputed super middleweight champion. At some point, he should defend those unified titles against a super middleweight. The consensus number one threat is David Benavidez and Benavidez has a style that meshes with anyone. It’s a potential fight of the year if it can be made and while Alvarez has scoffed at it, history indicates we might get there anyways. Alvarez has made a habit of fighting guys his critics insist he won’t, even if he makes them wait sometimes.
Alvarez was never going to face Mayweather, Lara, or Golovkin either, right? He did and there won’t be any never’s here about Benavidez.
For Golovkin, retirement wouldn’t be a bad idea but he insisted after the fight that he will continue with his middleweight titles (he holds two). If his goal is still to finally unify the crown, a tall order at 40, there are two fights to make. One likely pays a lot more right now.
Janibek Alimkhanuly has the WBO belt and would pose a young, physical challenge. The bigger clash, and the one that might better feed future superfights, would be a showdown with WBC titlist Jermall Charlo. Even after Saturday, Golovkin-Charlo would be a potential stadium show. Golovkin doesn’t look like he can still win that fight but he would make a bundle.
Jesse Rodriguez had his hands full with Israel Gonzalez, a good reminder that the 22-year old isn’t as good as he’s going to be. Those rounds will serve him well in the future. The talent gap was too much to overcome for a determined Gonzalez but he gave a hell of an effort…Ali Akhmedov looked good against Gabe Rosado but we won’t know what his ceiling is until he sees real resistance again…Joe Joyce-Joseph Parker should be a lot of fun this weekend.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com