Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin fight to controversial split draw in thriller

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist

LAS VEGAS – It wasn’t anywhere close to Hagler-Hearns, and it’s probably not the Fight of the Year, but Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez gave the sell-out crowd of 22,358 at T-Mobile Arena its money’s worth in their heavily hyped middleweight title fight Saturday despite a deflating outcome.

A hard-fought, close and competitive fight was a split draw, with Adalaide Byrd favoring Alvarez 118-110, Dave Moretti taking Golovkin 115-113 and Don Trella calling it even 114-114. Yahoo Sports had it 115-113 for Golovkin.

Byrd’s card appeared way out of line in a fight in which Golovkin attacked all night and repeatedly backed Alvarez to the ropes. Byrd only gave the fourth and the seventh to Golovkin and appeared to see a different fight than everyone else.

The heavily pro-Alvarez crowd booed as he was interviewed by HBO Sports’ Max Kellerman in the ring after the bout.

There were no knockdowns, but there were plenty of hard shots landed by each man.

After a relatively slow start, the fight picked up a pace by the third round and its flow was similar. Golovkin would race after Alvarez and fire rights. But Alvarez boxed smartly, backing up but countering well.

Canelo Alvarez, right, throws a right at Gennady Golovkin during their fight in Las Vegas on Saturday. (AP)

Alvarez landed a series of good body shots, including one in the 10th that appeared to make Golovkin wince. Golovkin went hard to the body as well, but he landed more head shots and several times appeared to hurt Alvarez.

The fight was billed as a throwback match and it was compared to many great middleweight bouts, such as Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns and Bernard Hopkins-Felix Trinidad.

The heavyweight title fight in April between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko will keep its grip on the Fight of the Year award, though no one was complaining about what they saw on Saturday.

It was the judging, though, that will be the story of this fight. Golovkin’s aggressiveness and his right hands apparently weren’t seen by Byrd, who tolled off round after round for Alvarez.

Golovkin seemed to pick up the pace after Alvarez got off well early, but she gave him no credit for it.

Ironically a draw opened at 30-1 at the MGM Grand sports book and was bet down to 15-1.

It is hard to argue with the work of either Moretti or Trella, because the fight was close and it could have gone 7-5 for either man. A draw certainly is not unreasonable.

Byrd’s card, though, took the energy out of a crowd which was on its feet and roaring its heart out as the fight came down the stretch.

There is a rematch clause in favor of Alvarez, and it seems logical that it will be exercised given the unsatisfying result.

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