T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV, Sept. 16
TV: Showtime Pay-Per-View
By Peter Lim
To label this fight as a skills-versus-power matchup would simply be an overgeneralization. True, Alvarez has the edge in skills and Golovkin in power. But Canelo is no slouch in the power department and GGG, a former Olympic gold medalist, might have lost a mere 10 rounds in his previous 17 title defenses.
Canelo's superior hand and foot speed befuddles GGG for the first half of the fight. Fluidly sidestepping GGG's charges, Canelo rattles the Kazakh with picturesque and rapid-fire combinations to the head and ribcage like no other boxer has done before. GGG finds sporadic moments of success with his jab and by investing in well-placed crunching shots to the torso, but they are too few and far between to win any of the first six rounds.
The power differential begins to mark a shift in momentum in the seventh round. While Canelo is a natural 154-pounder who hits like a middleweight, GGG is a natural 160-pounder who hits like a light heavyweight. As flashy and crowd-pleasing as Canelo's flurries were in the first half of the fight, GGG's more deliberate and educated punches has exacted more of a toll on Canelo than vice versa.
Pumping his sledgehammer jab overtime, GGG presses the action with calculated pressure and begins to land the more debilitating blows with increasing frequency. Canelo feistily continues to box and bang but it becomes clear that his punches don't pack the same TNT as those of GGG.
Going into the ninth round, it appears Canelo has built enough of a lead to simply stay on his feet, cruise and perhaps steal one more round to win the fight. But his Mexican DNA refuses to let him turn into a Mayweather. He meets GGG head on and pays a high price as GGG gets the better of the exchanges with bludgeoning punches upstairs and down.
GGG drops Canelo for the first time in his career with a body shot at the end of the tenth round that appears to sap him of whatever reserves he has left in his tank. Rather than resorting to survival mode, Canelo decides to go for broke and comes out firing with both fists in the eleventh round. GGG easily absorbs the incoming fire and drops Canelo three more times but the brave Mexican beats the count each time and miraculously survives the round.
Coming out for the final round, Canelo is an exhausted fighter but GGG has also depleted most of his firepower. He goes through the motions of chasing Canelo around the ring, doing enough to win the round but unable to land a fight-ending punch. At the end of the day, all judges have Canelo winning more rounds but GGG is declared the victor by close but unanimous decision courtesy of the multiple knockdowns.