Canelo Alvarez edges Gennady Golovkin to win world middleweight championship
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez received a majority decision win over Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in their rematch, Saturday night, and, much like their first fight a year ago, there was debate to be had about whom won and what certain rounds were scored respectively. However unlike their first encounter that sparked a contemptuous rivalry, the lasting impression wasn’t that of an outright robbery but the adrenaline rush of watching a thrilling fight.
“That was a great fight but, in the end, it was a victory for Mexico,” said Alvarez after the fight. “And again, it was an opportunity and I want to shout out to my opponent, the best in the sport of boxing. I am a great fighter and I showed it tonight. If the people want another round, I’ll do it again. But for right now, I will enjoy time with my family.”
Two scores of 115-113 in favor of Alvarez overruled the lone card of a 114-114 draw and the victory made the Mexican superstar the new unified WBA/WBC middleweight champion.
“I’m not going to say who won tonight because the victory belongs to Canelo, according to the judges,” Golovkin said after his first defeat. “I thought it was a very good fight for the fans and very exciting.”
Alvarez, 50-1-2 (34), was willing to stand toe-to-toe with his nemesis for the entire fight – something for which he was criticized for not doing the first time around – and the orthodox stylist fought effectively under those conditions, especially in the beginning. They felt each other out in the opening three minutes but Alvarez who was first to dictate anything that went on in the ring, starting in round two. The hand speed gave Golovkin some trouble and Canelo was keen enough to overshadow the constant jab coming at him by throwing more power shots, ending the round with a big left hand to the head. The fight started to open up in the third but Canelo’s subtle body work was enough to warrant him having the most important punches landed, when Golovkin first started to throw power shots.
Golovkin, 38-1-1 (34), constantly threw his jab throughout the entire fight but was slow getting into his offensive groove. All that changed in the fourth round, when he first landed his most meaningful shots. Left hooks, right crosses and uppercuts were starting to come at Alvarez and, in the following round, one of them – along with that jab – forced a small cut near the left brow of his foe. Once receiving pushback, Canelo fought fire with fire in the sixth and did so with more great body work and savvy head movement that made Golovkin miss. Alvarez followed that up in the seventh with big uppercuts of his own, spraying GGG’s sweat in the air and, perhaps for the first time ever, forcing Golovkin to take a step back or two. After a clear eighth round in his favor, Alvarez seemed poised to outbox Golovkin to a clear win but GGG wouldn’t go out like that.
The final four rounds of the fight were certainly the best and with both men not as fresh as when it started, it went from high level chess to a quality game of checkers. They began trading punches, trying to one-up the shot they just ate and the fight became a palpable one, which anyone can enjoy and follow exactly what was happening. In round 10, Golovkin had one of his better rounds, in which there was the first sense of reeling from Canelo but there was no running around or clinching to thwart it. The only time Canelo’s back – or either man’s, for that matter – ever touched the ropes was in the 11th round for a quick instant, when Golovkin pressed forward with his power crosses and left hooks. He quickly got them off, however, and proceeded to gather everything he had left to finish the round on a high note, setting up a final round in which everything seemed to hang in the balance.
In those final three minutes, Golovkin and Alvarez let everything they had remaining go and the fight ended with a great ovation from the 21,965 in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the first fight happened last year. Then there were plenty of boos, once the decision was read but, this time, there wasn’t much pushback – and how could there be after such a great contest, in which the best fought the best? Any qualms about the result can be directed to the loser of the evening, Golovkin, who held his head high and said in English before leaving the stage:
“It was a great fight, seriously. Today, he’s champion. I’ll be back, guys. Don’t worry.”
Tijuana, Mexico’s Jaime Munguia showcased himself well by blasting out Brandon Cook within three rounds to successfully defend his WBO junior middleweight title a second time.
“This was part of my development,” said Munguia after the knockout win. “I was not as focused as in my last fight but this time, I came more relaxed. I was looking for the knockout too much. But now you’ve seen the results of my work. With each fight, you will see me getting better. I just want to show that I can get better and that I want to face the best, so I can show that I am the best.”
Munguia, 31-0 (26), started off patient with his jab but it gave him opportunity to open up his power-punching offense in the first round. In the bout’s final moments, Munguia wailed on Cook after trapping him in a corner and referee Tony Weeks was already waiting for his cue to wave it off but the bell rang before his chance came. Cook, 20-2 (13), wasn’t afraid to throw back at the taller man, who was seemingly fighting downward. The 32-year-old Canadian couldn’t get out of harm’s way. However in the third round, Cook was dropped for the first time in the fight after absorbing a flurry of hooks. Upon going down the first time, Munguia accidentally hit Cook while Cook took a knee but Weeks missed it and proceeded with his count. Moments later in the round, Munguia started to punich Cook on the ropes and finally gave Weeks his warrant to stop the fight.
David Lemieux quickly put an end to Spike O’Sullivan’s night, sparking him out in the first round with a perfectly placed left hook to the chin of the mouthy Irishman. The middleweight contest – which was a WBA middleweight title eliminator – was scheduled for 12 rounds.
“This was my lesson to him, to be humble,” proclaimed Lemieux after the short outing. “I’m tired of these world champions smash talking just to promote their fights. I want to be able to teach my kids and the kids that follow me to be respectful and to never call out a fighter and keep it professional. I hope he learns to be humble, or be humbled. I want the winner of tonight’s fight.”
Lemieux, 40-4 (34), looked like the more explosive fighter during the time it lasted. The 29-year-old French-Canadian from Montreal rehydrated to 179 pounds and it showed when compared to the force of the few shots landed by his counterpart. O’Sullivan, 28-3 (20), didn’t offer much of a threat before getting caught by Lemieux’s left hand. The 34-year-old was throwing a right hand in the same instant he fell to the canvas and stayed on a knee, with his senses scrambled. Before O’Sullivan could regain his footing, referee Russell Mora waved it off.
“I was very happy to win – I’m a happy middleweight. I felt great. I’m in superb shape,” Lemieux added. “I always give you guys a great knockout, a great fight. I’m looking forward to doing it again. Don’t mess with me. When O’Sullivan talked, I kept it in me. I bring it to the ring. I don’t disrespect my opponents. I don’t trash-talk. You can’t compare me now with how I was with (WBO middleweight titlist) Billy Joel Saunders. Saunders is an excellent technician but I’m physically 100% in shape now. Canelo and Golovkin are two excellent fighters. I’m looking forward to fighting them both. It’s a 50/50 fight. I fought Golovkin at his peak; maybe Golovkin will fight Lemieux at his peak.”
Opening the HBO Pay-Per-View broadcast, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez delivered a tremendous fifth round knockout of Moises Fuentes to supercharge a comeback at the tail end of a legendary career. The junior bantamweight contest was scheduled for 10 rounds.
Gonzalez, 47-2 (39), took a round to get going but started to showcase his brilliant offensive attack in the second round, in which Fuentes walked to his corner afterward, with a leaking cut and a face of displeasure, once first experiencing the dizzying display. Fuentes, 25-6-1 (14), was the bigger man in the ring and on the scales, at yesterday’s weigh-in, but those advantages were deemed worthless against the Nicaraguan great. Gonzalez, 31, furthered his attack with great footwork that constantly put Fuentes out of position and often times trapped his back on the ropes. There was no shortage of subtle body shots within Gonzalez’s offense and uppercuts on the inside highlighted many exchanges, as they popped Fuentes’ head backward.
Fuentes threw mostly power punches, hoping to test the chin of someone who was brutally knocked out a year ago in his most recent fight. Gonzalez was too smart to let that happen, many times finding a way to make Fuentes miss wildly. There was no miss in the one shot that ended the fight, as Gonzalez landed a perfect right hand to the chin of Fuentes, whose body folded to the canvas neatly in one fell swoop. It had been nearly three years since Gonzalez won a fight by knockout and this one was so brutal, he immediately went to check on his rival to make sure he was OK.
“When he hit the floor, I got very worried for him and I panicked and when he regained consciousness and I prayed for him and I told him that I hope God blesses him, his family and his career, I asked for him to forgive me,because this is the job that we chose and that I didn’t mean to hurt him.” Gonzalez said afterward. A former champion in boxing’s lightest four weight classes, Gonzalez started his comeback 10 years to the day he won his first world title. “I’m very thankful for this opportunity. It’s a great comeback to be on the Canelo vs. Golovkin card. I can’t wait because I am a step closer to becoming a world champion.”
Junior welterweight prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. blew out the experienced Roberto Ortiz, forcing a second round stoppage to earn the 11th win of his career and keep his perfect KO percentage intact.
Vergil Ortiz, 11-0 (11), a product of Dallas, Texas, training out of Riverside, California, began Roberto Ortiz’s unraveling early in the second round, when a right hand to the head dropped the Mexican veteran. Roberto, 32, was clearly shaken by the shot, once making it back to his feet, but once action resumed, Vergil patiently waited for his follow-up attack, knowing his counterpart could still be dangerous. Vergil soon landed a combination that caught Roberto in the same instance in which he was bent at the waist, making the fall to his knees less dramatic than the original knockdown. Ortiz, 35-4-2 (6), got up well in time to beat Vic Drakulich’s 10-count but the Torreon, Mexico, native didn’t look keen on the fight resuming, warranting a referee stoppage with no pushback.
“This win is bittersweet because I won against a great name and record but ‘Massa’ (Roberto Ortiz) was my first ever sparring partner’ when I first turned pro, and now he’s a win on the next step of my career,” said Vergil, 20, who fights out of Robert Garcia’s Boxing Academy. “During my first sparring session, he gave me a swollen lip and, today, I knocked him out, which is a great benchmark for me, as to how I’m progressing as a fighter. I’m excited for the future.”
Alexis Rocha nearly shut out Carlos Ortiz on the cards after eight rounds of welterweight action, receiving a unanimous decision (80-72 twice, 79-73) to remain unbeaten.
“I am satisfied with my performance but I feel I could’ve done a lot more to secure the win,” Rocha admitted afterward. “I wish I would’ve thrown more punches and more combinations. He was really good at catching the shots and countering them and I wish I would’ve had a lot more movement. We stuck to the plan, which was to break the body down and I felt I was able to do that.”
Fighting out of Santa Ana, California, Rocha, 12-0 (8), drew blood in the opening round, after a left hand from the southpaw caught Ortiz on the left eye. Ortiz, 11-3 (11), had trouble with that left cross from Rocha all night, not to mention going up against a fighter who was stronger, younger and faster. The 34-year-old Mexican didn’t waver at fighting the prospect, however, offering a challenge to the 21-year-old with subtle moves on the inside and the determined confidence that came with them.
Jaba Khositashvili earned a unanimous decision (58-56 across the board) win over Lawrence King in a six-round battle of undefeated super middleweights.
“Even though I won tonight, I’m very disappointed because I wasn’t allowed the opportunity to demonstrate my fighting,” said Khositashvili. “My opponent kept holding me and wouldn’t let me fight him. All I want to do is fight. I have over 20 years’ experience fighting; half of that has been spent in the amateurs.”
It was a competitive affair but Khositashvili, 4-0 (2), landed the most meaningful punches of the fight. King, 4-1 (3), a 21-year-old from San Bernardino, California, took those big shots well enough to stay on his feet but could be found many times trying to clinch his way to survival. Khositashvili, a Georgian fighting out Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, looked frustrated for every one of those occasions, as he had trouble getting out, but there was no doubt whom was dictating the narrative over the course of the six rounds.
In the opening bout of the card co-promoted by Golden Boy and GGG Promotions, welterweight Brian Ceballo forced a second round stoppage of David Thomas to earn a dominant TKO victory.
Ceballo, 5-0 (3), of Brooklyn, New York, came out of the gate letting his hands go and forced his foe to step into the fire with him. Thomas, 6-4-1 (2), was not fit to trade with the welterweight prospect, and, after a right hand/left cross combo, was dropped to the mat midway through the opening round. Once getting up, Thomas was put back onto the canvas after a flurry, as he round winded down. Ceballo went right back at Thomas to start the second and just after a few clean shots with both hands rattled him again, referee Jay Nady stepped in to stop the contest at the 34-second mark. The fight was scheduled for six rounds.
“I figured out beforehand that he always fights the exact same way, so I knew to keep my distance and keep a fast pace,” said Ceballo, who’s promoted by Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions. “I saw he couldn’t counter, so I kept pressure and now I’m 5-0. I’m 24 years old and now I’m ready for a tougher opponent.”