Guadalajara boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was crowned world middleweight champion Saturday after inflicting the first ever defeat on holder Gennady Golovkin in a furious, close fight in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The most anticipated fight of 2018 went the full 12 rounds, with one judge calling it 114-114, and two going in favor of the Tapatio, 115-113.
Spurred on by a raucous, predominantly Mexican crowd, Alvarez showed far more aggression than in the pair’s first fight in May, 2017, which ended in a contentious draw, with most pundits believing Golovkin had easily outclassed his rival.
The Kazakhstani fighter – eight years older than Alvarez – was made to work much harder in the rematch. And although he landed more punches – 234 of 879, compared to Alvarez’s 202 of 622 – the Mexican’s blows packed more power.
Following the fight, Golovkin told the media that he thought he was “controlling” the fight with his jab, despite being on the back foot for much of the time.
For Alvarez, the victory was “clear-cut” and especially sweet after a hostile buildup to the fight, culminating in a mini-brawl at Friday’s weigh-in. He had become incensed at his rival’s unwillingness to accept that his testing positive for a banned substance (clembuterol) earlier in the year had been an error of judgment, caused by eating contaminated meat. Alvarez served a six-month ban but fiercely protested his innocence. (The use of clembuterol to fatten livestock in Mexico is illegal but still widespread, according to sources close to the farming sector.)
The 28-year-old Guadalajara native said he will dedicate time for his family, but intends to defend his title in December. While talk of a third encounter quickly surfaced soon after Saturday’s fight, Alvarez played down the possibility, without ruling it out. Golovkin, on the other hand, said he would welcome a rematch, although doubts will be raised whether the 36-year-old would have the stamina to take on Canelo for a third time.
Some pundits, however, believe Golovkin will always be at a disadvantage when fighting Alvarez in Las Vegas in front of thousands of hot-blooded Mexican fans. Writing in the Daily Mail, Jeff Powell said: “The Viva Mexico frenzy in the T-Mobile Arena applies pressure which ringside judges find too much to fully resist, however hard they try.”
It is unclear exactly how much money Alvarez will make from the Golovkin fight but it could exceed US$30 million. According to sports daily Cancha, Canelo has earned around US$102 million in the past four year, the highest amount of any Mexican athlete. Forbes magazine listed Alvarez as sports’ 15th biggest earner between July 2017 and July 2018, with an income of $US44.5 million.
That’s a million light years away from the 10 to 20 pesos he used to earn as a kid at his father’s side, helping out with family’s ice cream and popsicle business in the Guadalajara suburb of Juanacatlán.