Canelo Alvarez has provided a conclusive conclusion to his trilogy with Gennadiy Golovkin.
He won a clear and unanimous decision to defend his undisputed super middleweight championship at T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Alvarez from Mexico and Golovkin from Kazakhstan share a checkered history. They had two great middleweight title fights in 2017 and 2018.
But their first fight ended in a hard-fought draw. Their second fight was delayed when Alvarez was suspended for six months for an abnormal result in a drug test which he blamed on eating tainted meat.
The Mexican won this second meeting by a narrow majority decision, but never completely got the better of Golovkin.
He did, however, on Saturday in their third and surely their last fight.
Golovkin had moved up to 168 pounds to challenge Alvarez for the WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF super middleweight titles he now holds. But at 40, the Kazakh could not compete with the dynamism and speed of his great rival.
In the first round, the two fought to their core, looking to tag the other with solid leading lefts.
It was Alvarez, however, who got on the front foot, holding the center of the ring and forcing Golovkin back. Giving ground meant Golovkin couldn’t shake off the power punches his fearsome reputation is based on.
Instead, Alvarez worked, picking up round after round as he fired quick lefts to the head and launched his right through the openings. These quick, accurate shots scarred Golovkin and made him uncharacteristically reluctant to let go of his own hands.
After targeting the head mostly in the first half of the fight, Alvarez began to vary the level of his attacks as the fight progressed, occasionally hitting the body with left hooks. These shots came less often than expected, but when they landed, they hit with such force that Golovkin clearly felt their weight and had to step back once more.
As the fight entered its final stages, Alvarez had built a nearly unassailable lead. He found answers when Golovkin caught him, putting together quality combinations and slamming the odd spectacular right uppercut into the Kazakh’s jaw.
As time ticked away from the fight and opportunities slipped away from him, Golovkin applied more pressure in the 11th round, finally bustling behind repeated punches and his hard hooks.
But it was too little too late. At this point, the challenger needed a knockout to win, and that never seemed likely to happen.
The final scores were 116-112 and 115-113 twice, all for Alvarez.
Their rivalry has finally come to an end.
“He’s strong, he’s a great fighter,” said the Mexican. “For me, I’m just happy to share the ring with him. We give the fans three really good fights. I’m happy to be involved in this kind of fight.”
Golovkin replied, “I want to shake Canelo’s hand and congratulate his whole team.”
After the unique violence of their first two fights, of course, the third ended peacefully.
Even at 40, Golovkin has no intention of retiring. “Absolutely [I’ll carry on]. I have a great plan, a lot of opponents,” he said. “I’ll be back, I’m still a champion.
Alvarez was coming into this fight after a loss. A foray into light heavyweight in May had ended with Russian WBA 175-pound titlist Dmitry Bivol beating him. The Mexican wants this rematch, after recovering from a ‘really serious’ left-hand injury.
“I have to get my hand and my body back and come back stronger than ever,” he said.
When it comes to avenging that loss to Bivol, Alvarez insisted: “It’s very important for me, for my heritage, for my country, for everyone.
“I have been through some very difficult things in my life,” he added. “I actually showed that defeats are great because they allow you to come back and be humble.
“I will continue to carry on my legacy.”
This third Alvarez-Golovkin matchup did not match the excitement or intensity of their first two battles. But there could be no disputing the result this time.
For Canelo Alvarez, it will make this win all the sweeter.