Clash of Middleweight Titans Ends in Draw

By Caryn A. Tate on September 16, 2017
Clash of Middleweight Titans Ends in Draw
One wonders if crowd reactions possibly interfered with the scorecards. (John Locher/AP)

While it was a relatively close fight, it’s hard not to think the result of this bout was a business strategy—and not only for HBO…

LAS VEGAS, Nevada—In a phenomenal, competitive bout, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) faced Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) in a 12-round middleweight title unification. Some thought Golovkin, famed for his outstanding power, would knock Alvarez out within a matter of rounds. Still others thought it would be a war to rival the famed 1980’s middleweight wars like Hagler-Hearns or Hagler-Duran. What it ended up being was one of the best fights of the year thanks to the two fighters’ fantastic boxing skills, heart, and durability.

The event took place in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena, in front of an audience of 22,358. The venue was electric as the main event approached, and once the fight got underway, the action did not disappoint.

Fighting out of the red corner in blue and gold trunks, Alvarez started out in the first round by slipping almost all of Golovkin’s shots, but not throwing much of his own until later in the round. Golovkin, wearing the gray trunks and fighting out of the blue corner, stalked Canelo but missed a lot of his shots. Both fighters seemed tense in the first round, and as the first few rounds progressed, their tension seemed to ease but it was clearly becoming a very tactical bout. Neither man wanted to make a big mistake, and both wanted to be first with their punches.

In the early rounds, Canelo’s superior hand speed showed up as he fired in combination. He was mobile throughout the fight, something unusual for the young Mexican star, but he did it very well. The speed of his hands, and his defensive skills, seemed to surprise Golovkin a bit early on. By round 3, Golovkin was looking a bit winded but still coming on strong.

Some of the rounds were very close in the number of punches landed; so the next criteria as explained in my article from last year is effective aggressiveness. In some rounds GGG did display better effective aggressiveness than Canelo did; but in some, Golovkin could be seen following his opponent around the ring, occasionally even jogging to catch up with him.

Still, Golovkin’s shots always look sharp and punishing, and even when Canelo would roll back with a shot or block it entirely, the crowd typically reacted. Much like Sergey Kovalev’s punches, which always look damaging even if they aren’t scoring blows (as in the above examples), Golovkin’s punches in the early rounds, and in a few of the later rounds, were often not scoring punches and therefore shouldn’t be counted when scoring. But an excited crowd understandably isn’t necessarily looking at it this way, but one does wonder if crowd reactions—and the expectations of those watching—ended up interfering with the judges’ final scorecards.

In the middle rounds Canelo appeared to take some time off. He looked a little winded himself, breathing through his mouth, and wasn’t throwing as much. Golovkin came on in these rounds, and as he tends to do so well, sensed when his opponent was weakening. There were a couple of times in the middle rounds when it looked like GGG may have hurt Canelo a bit, but when the smoke cleared, Canelo’s legs were fine. But there’s no mistaking Golovkin’s shots, if landed cleanly, are always felt.

But as the rounds wore on, Canelo continued his good boxing, and it did throw Golovkin off. When Canelo picked his combinations back up, he again had great success as he would typically land cleanly the majority of his combination shots on Golovkin. GGG answered back in every round, and in some rounds it was enough to possibly score them for him, but in some it wasn’t—there were several rounds where Canelo clearly landed more clean punches.

In the late rounds there were more exchanges. It seemed both fighters knew they had to fight harder, to make it more clear, and perhaps they were also too tired to keep moving as much as they had earlier.

But after the final bell rang, the scorecards were read and it turned out that the boxers fighting harder didn’t help. Adelaide Byrd scored it 118-110 for Canelo. Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 for Golovkin. And Don Trella scored it 114-114. The result was a draw. While it was a relatively close fight, or at least had close rounds, it’s hard not to think the result of this bout was a business strategy—not only for HBO and the fighters in question, but for the sport. And it’s a shame, because if the sport would support better and more accurate judging and we could get more consistently good scores, nothing would benefit the sport more. Not even another big money fight. Good judging is a long-term improvement; a big money fight is very short-term.

After the fight, Golovkin said, “It’s a big drama show. I want to thank all my fans, I want to thank all my Kazakhstan fans for supporting me, for coming out. Of course I want a rematch, this was a real fight. Look I still have all the belts, I’m still the champion.”

Canelo, on the other hand, stated, “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.”

While Byrd’s scorecard is too wide, and the draw result is disappointing and frustrating for anyone who had a clear winner, it’s important to remember what matters most tonight: we were promised an excellent fight, and we got one. Canelo-Golovkin can be counted among the best middleweight fights, and we got the fight when both boxers are still in their primes. They gave it all they had in the ring, and they displayed phenomenal boxing ability, intelligence, and heart. They gave great action as well as technical drama. This is the sort of fight that reminds us why we love boxing. What more can boxing fans ask for?

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  1. David 01:17pm, 09/18/2017

    Now everyone knows why Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward refused to fight Gennady Golovkin.

  2. Mike 07:11am, 09/18/2017

    I’m with Timothy A. Carey on this one.  Moretti and Trella must have been looking at another fight.  A draw says Trella, bull.  7 rounds for GGG and 5 for Canelo.  Nope Mr. Moretti.  Canelo took himself out of almost half the fight while running or simply standing along the ropes.  It’s the same thing that haunted him all through his career, he simply doesn’t have the body to go full out over 12 rounds.  Not his fault, just his biology. He gets in as best shape as he can. 
    Adelaide Byrd is nutty, but actually a cover for the other 2.
    This is only a guess: I think Moretti and Trella were semi consciously leaning toward Canelo and naturally gave him a little more than he was entitled to.  It wasn’t dishonesty I don’t think, just a kind of natural and slight pull for someone you favor.  Mike from Brooklyn

  3. JJ Austin 02:10pm, 09/17/2017

    And another thing.. Canelo is no “Middleweight Titan”. He’s a puffed up Welterweight who was really beaten by Austin Trout AND Erislandry Lara not to mention the Ass whopping he got from Triple G last night. He really has 4 losses, not 1. If you writers in the boxing media aren’t going to call out THE TRUTH like you should then I’ll do it for you! He was manufactured bc he’s a huge draw in Mexico which equals MONEY!!  Daniel Jacobs would beat the everliving Shit out of the redhead and is the Real other middleweight Titan. Unfortunately he has no crazed following so he doesn’t get the fame he deserves. True for many other boxers unfortunately. J. Charlo would be a better test vs GGG than another fight with the redhead. Hopefully real boxing fans demand that fight instead of a rematch

  4. Valentine Belfiglio 10:56am, 09/17/2017

    The cost of this fight prohibited me from viewing it. I hope pay-per-view can do better for ordinary people next time.

  5. Old Yank 10:44am, 09/17/2017

    All three official scorecards (and most unofficial scorecards), gave Canelo all three championship rounds—far from gassing out. I only gave him the 11th and 12th—not much controversy here as the overwhelming post-fight analysis saw at least the final two for Canelo.
    Without question both fighters were winded after 6. Both were reaching deep. In fact, I’ve never seen GGG gasping for air as much as I did last night.
    I had GGG winning 116-112—Dave Moretti’s card with the exception of seeing the 10th differently.
    Great bout - bad official outcome.

  6. Koolz 10:12am, 09/17/2017

    The people around me went nutz when it was a draw.

    I on the other hand.  Said they will rig it and make it a draw half way through the fight.

    “be calm in the eye of the storm”

  7. Timothy Agoglia Carey 09:59am, 09/17/2017

    Masterleo or someone else with half a brain on this site posited that all you need is one judge in the bag….not all three like some seem to think. So the favored fuk/son is already one third of the way there….as long as he doesn’t get KTFO!

  8. Timothy Agoglia Carey 09:48am, 09/17/2017

    All three judges had it wrong…. it wasn’t just Adalaide….Moretti and Trella just couldn’t wait to start running up the score for Canelo! All three gave the last three rounds to Saul like it was a landslide! They won’t be able to dump Byrd like they did C J Ross and anyone on this site that isn’t brain dead knows why! Her score was pure alternate universe….if she scored GGG it still would have been totally wack at 118-110 This is all in your face, fuk you shit anyway just like that clusterfuk two weeks ago!

  9. buddhabob 09:10am, 09/17/2017

    Boxing is a mans’ sport and women should never ever be allowed anywhere near a judging booth. They are too hysterical and emotional. Its absurd. Screw the PC world. A woman completely screwed up the Bradley-Pac fight as well. ENough is enough.

    GGG did not look his best. He looked oldish and slow in the first 3 rounds, tentative and not sticking his jab hard. Not good. He still won the fight and pounded on the Red Head. The Red Head is a good,slick counterpuncher but he’s no middleweight champion, no way. He does not deserve to be. There is not enough Mexican in him. You want real Mexican look at Hagler-Mugabi or

  10. Don from Prov 08:49am, 09/17/2017

    Sorrry, I forgot to add my name to that post.

  11. Your Name 08:47am, 09/17/2017

    I agree, underwhelming fight—GGG should have finished him or taken the last out of Canelo in those middle/middle late rounds.  Has he forgotten how to body punch?  Canelo, as expected winded big time, and Golovking—as I imagined might happen based on recent history also ran out of (at least punching steam) late when he once again was not in complete control of a fight’s pace and allowed Alvarez to win a couple of rounds late.  Yet GGG still won eight of the twelve rounds.  Jacobs “loss” to Golovkin to allow last night’s fight, and then the Alvarez draw to set up big money rematch stink of corruption. When boxing is no longer a retreat to but a repeat of the corrupt running of everything in this country—when I feel that decisions have been made before events take place—then my long love affair with boxing is finally over.  I’ll stick around, like a lot of us do in bad marriages.
    But the love affair is definitely and finally over.

  12. NYirish 08:01am, 09/17/2017

    It was the Anchor Punch, passed down by Steppin’ Fetchit, that won the fight for Canelo. CLEARLY.

  13. Joe Masterleo 07:58am, 09/17/2017

    Boxing, not Alvarez and Golovkin, got what it deserved regarding uncorrected irregularities in the judging department, particularly in championship bouts, and where big money is involved. I can hear the fervently outspoken Teddy Atlas now, the only voice with any semblance of credibility crying out in the seedy wilderness that remains boxing.

  14. Kid Blast 07:51am, 09/17/2017

    Underwhelmed except for Byrd who should be fired forthwith.Disgusting that an incompetence judge can steal the show.

  15. Norm Marcus 07:18am, 09/17/2017

    Having bought the Mayweather/ Pacquiao fight years ago I should have known better.
    The lady judge here gave GGG 2 rounds! I counted 8 /4 for GGG.
    Teddy Atlas says “follow the money” on last nights fight. Maybe he is right.
    Maybe we should go back to boxing rules at the turn of the century. No judges, just a referee and the press there. If you knock a guy out it’s a win for you. If not it’s a newspaper decision as to who won. But not a win or loss in the books! Read about it in the papers.
    Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.
    I’ll watch these mega fights for free two weeks later on cable from now on!

  16. Don 06:12am, 09/17/2017

    Aggressiveness does not win you a fight if you are not landing CLEAN punches - Canelo landed the CLEAN punches and produced a masterclass overall - at MOST Golovkin won 5 rounds
    It was clearly a Canelo victory - anyone who thought otherwise should watch the fight AGAIN and count the CLEAN punches on either side
    8 rounds to 4 in favor of Canelo - CLEARLY

  17. Yogi Berra 05:07am, 09/17/2017

    It’s deja vu all over again.  (If you don’t think so, check out Bowe-Holyfield I draw decision and the controversy surounding Eugenia Williams’ card.

  18. NYIrish 04:49am, 09/17/2017

    It was a good fight. Golovkin dominated inside the ropes. Corruption dominated outside. The promoters continued to spit in the faces of the fans. Decisions had more integrity when Frankie Carbo and the Mob controlled boxing. The commentators are in on it and played up his actions. Golovkin hits Canelo four unanswered punches and you hear “Good counterpunch by Canelo.” when he finally lashes out. This morning writers suck up and bend reality to accommodate the outrage. It was a good fight, yes. A close fight? No. Adelaide Byrd is a disgrace and has been for years. Trella knew how it was supposed to turn out. I’ve been a fan and a participant since I was a kid. I’ve bought my last pay per view.

  19. Michael 04:34am, 09/17/2017

    I’m a lifelong boxing fan but I’ve given up hoping for integrity in this sport. As long as promoters have complete control without any checks on corruption, boxing has gone from “must see” to “if there’s nothing better to do” like clean the toilet. I feel badly for the athletes and fans who would like to love this sport.

  20. bobby pierce 03:22am, 09/17/2017

    AS A PERSON WHO HAS REASON TO KNOW A LITTLE ABOUT BOXING——-IVE BEEN—had—again—i thought this fight would be the real deal—-wrong—-i have seen ms. byrd score many fights before and i wonder where and why she came up with that score—-surely it couldnt be about rematch money—-but i can tell you it wont be any of my money—my wife and i always buy the pay-per-view fights because we love boxing—-no more—i wonder how many other suckers like me feel the same way——as far as the fight is concerned—it may have been staged—i dont know—-i do know that we must give up on our favorite sport—-just so the judges know—the score was 8 rounds to 4—triple g -the winner—and dont talk to me about ring generalship etc.-i know all about that stuff—sad day for us—-goodbye boxing—-bobby pierce….

  21. Buster 11:18pm, 09/16/2017

    What a disgraceful decision. GGG clearly won the fight. No question! We the fans are played like the fools that we are. And writers like the above who do not call out the blatant corruption are part of the problem. Canelo turned out to be a disappointment. He seemed winded early and thereafter only fought in spurts. GGG forced the action continuously and landed more punches.
    Somebody should flush that corrupt judge who voted 118-110 for Alavarez down a toilet. If she ever judges another fight shame on boxing! Oh, almost forgot, the scumbags who run this so called “sport” have no shame. So you can expect more of the same.

  22. Koolz 11:18pm, 09/16/2017

    Golovkin might still get the win?  There is going to be a full investigation into the crazy score card.  So they say.
    Yes I agree GGG didn’t look good coming into the fight or the first three rounds.
    should have taken Canelo out on the ropes.
    was an exciting fight though.

    Everyone in the fight world things GGG won.

  23. Timothy Agoglia Carey 10:44pm, 09/16/2017

    GGG didn’t look good walking into T-Mobile….he didn’t look any better in the dressing room….he didn’t look right in the ring walk…. he couldn’t get untracked early. He kept letting that short legged bugger slide away along the ropes under his many right hand misses…..too many….but he won this fight….but it was too damn close and he only has himself to blame for that! NSAC asshat/Director Bennet defending ringer Adalaide Byrd’s screwed card is just more of the same stinkin’ ass corruption!

  24. JJ Austin 09:46pm, 09/16/2017

    Come on Caryn, I usually like your articles but your story is as out of line as A. Bird’s scorecard! The biggest problem in boxing is the crooked corruption and an even Bigger problem is when boxing people like you (writers, announcers, etc) don’t stand up like adults and call it the F-ck out!!!  You and any other person downplaying this CROOKED, BULLSHIT decision should be ashamed of yourselves. Watch Teddy Atlas on espn tonight. That’s a guy who cares about boxing and us THE FANS. And furthermore he isn’t afraid to tell the Truth which is more than I can say about the rest of you Cowards. To anyone with Eyes and common sense, that fight was 118 - 110 for GGG!!!  not cinnamon. 116-112 if you are Extremely generous but no way was it a draw or did Alvarez win. No way at all.

  25. bikermike 09:45pm, 09/16/2017

    the judges may have been ‘homers’...but they weren’t insane enough to take the title from Golovkin….. I can’t say the same about the ROJO VS MARTIN judgement…
    ...I can digest a draw….with Golovkin ...although strongly disagree.  Hope the rematch is in a smaller ring.!!!
    That a bantamweight title was won by an eleven pound over the weight fighter…I call bullshit !!
    Rivera took too much punishment….and referee could not have been faulted for stopping it much earlier…....and his corner should be shot with a ball of their own shit !!!

  26. Koolz 08:59pm, 09/16/2017

    yes I gave Canelo 4 rounds in what was a really close fight?

    Canelo did a lot better then I thought he would do.  I think GGG should have TKO’d him or knocked him out on the ropes though.

    Draw…116-112 GGG….

    A Draw?

    set up to create a rematch for next year.

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