AL­VAREZ KEEN ON RE­MATCH

Mex­i­can out­lasts Golovkin for mid­dleweight belts; open to a third fight with Kaza­khstani

The Straits Times - - BUSINESS -

LAS VE­GAS Saul “Canelo” Al­varez is eye­ing a tril­ogy with Gen­nady Golovkin af­ter end­ing the mid­dleweight cham­pion’s un­beaten reign on Satur­day.

Mex­i­can star Al­varez pro­duced a dis­play of guts and re­silience to in­flict the first de­feat of Golovkin’s ca­reer with a ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion at the T-Mo­bile Arena.

The win wiped away months of sim­mer­ing ac­ri­mony which stemmed from Al­varez’s failed drug test in Fe­bru­ary, then scup­per­ing hopes of a May re­match.

Al­varez, who fought a con­tro­ver­sial draw with Golovkin a year ago, said he would be ready for a third in­stal­ment, pos­si­bly later this year.

“If the peo­ple want an­other round, I’ll do it again,” said Al­varez, who im­proved to 50-1-2.

For 12 rounds, drama fi­nally eclipsed con­tro­versy, and the two fight­ers ex­changed blow af­ter blow, each man des­per­ate to win on his own terms this time.

While the fi­nal three min­utes were close, two of the three judges gave the fi­nal round to Al­varez (115-113, 115-113, 114-114), all that was needed to avoid an­other draw.

Although statis­tics af­ter­wards showed Golovkin had thrown more punches, it was Al­varez who landed more con­sis­tently, outscor­ing his ri­val 143-116 in power punches.

With his nar­row win, the 28-yearold be­came the new uni­fied ti­tle holder, as he took own­er­ship of the World Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and World Box­ing Coun­cil mid- dleweight cham­pi­onship belts.

Golovkin (38-1-1) saw his streak of suc­cess­ful ti­tle de­fences halted at 20, leav­ing him tied with Bernard Hop­kins for the mid­dleweight record.

“I am a great fighter, and I showed it tonight. We knew the best way to beat him was to make him go back­wards,” Al­varez said.

“It was my plan from the be­gin- ning. At first I aimed for the knock­out, I didn’t. I’m sat­is­fied with the way we did it to­day.”

The 36-year-old Golovkin, who needed eight stitches in a cut above his right eye, in­sisted he did not feel un­der pres­sure dur­ing 12 pun­ish­ing rounds de­spite his loss.

“I felt very com­fort­able,” the Kaza­khstani said. “I think we con­trolled the fight.”

His trainer Abel Sanchez admit­ted that he hoped to see a third meet­ing be­tween the duo.

“Canelo is a cham­pion to­day, he de­serves it, he fought a great fight,” Sanchez said. “It’s ob­vi­ous th­ese two guys can make great fights. Hope­fully there’ll be a third fight.”

An ar­ray of movie and sports stars were among a crowd of 21,965, with Le­Bron James rub­bing shoul­ders with ac­tors such as Den­zel Wash­ing­ton and Will Smith.

Since Floyd May­weather’s re­tire­ment, box­ing has been a sport with­out a tran­scen­dent su­per­star.

But, in 12 ex­cit­ing rounds, Al­varez made a com­pelling case that de­spite re­cent con­tro­ver­sies, he’s a wor­thy torch­bearer-in-wait­ing.

PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Saul Al­varez lands a right hook on Gen­nady Golovkin dur­ing their WBC/WBA mid­dleweight ti­tle fight at the T-Mo­bile Arena in Las Ve­gas on Satur­day. Al­varez won by a ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion af­ter 12 rounds.

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