Split Decision Series: Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin I

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

By Michael Walsh

It’s quite possibly the most controversial super-fight to divide fans in recent history, Canelo Alvarez v Gennady Golovkin for all the middleweight marbles in September 2017. There are some big fights where fans are quite happy to just see the better man win on the night and are able to stay emotionally neutral throughout. However, with this bout, most fans seemed to pick a side and have a preferred winner.

Canelo is arguably the face of boxing; he is the money-making machine representing the fanatical boxing fans of Mexico, bringing all the bells and whistles to the fight game. Golovkin, on the other hand, is a throwback, offering an old-fashioned representation of the sport. A no-nonsense, fan-friendly fighter.

This was more than a clash between the two best middleweights in the world, it was a clash of cultures. While writing a series looking at controversial decisions, there was no way this bout could be ignored.


With murmurs of this fight taking place beginning back in 2015, it was inevitable that the pair were going to meet in order to once and truly discover who the best middleweight of recent times was.

The bout was finally agreed and announced after Canelo’s victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in May 2017 and as Golovkin joined him in the ring, Alvarez declared “You are next, my friend. I’ve never feared anyone.”

There was a reason why Canelo felt the need to say that, because Golovkin was possible the most feared fighter in the sport at that point, he had left a trail of destruction behind him heading into this fight. That included the likes of Martin Murray, Willie Munroe Jr, David Lemieux, Kell Brook and Daniel Jacobs. He responded to Canelo’s comments by promising another iconic “big drama show”.

Billed as ‘Supremacy’, Golovkin was defending his unified WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight titles against The Ring magazines and the former lineal middleweight champion.

In addition, after knocking out Amir Khan in devastating fashion, Canelo vacated the WBC middleweight title, which was immediately awarded to Golovkin, so there was obviously genuine middleweight credibility on either side of the ring.

Details of the deal would later emerge as the fight drew closer and it was revealed that negotiations went in Canelo’s favour with a re-match clause included in the event he lost but not one for Golovkin if he came up short. Many also felt that having no-hydration clauses meant an advantage for Canelo as he would be able to gain more weight than GGG in the time between the weigh-in and the fight itself.

The fight

A composed figure, Golovkin made his way to the ring first, looking very relaxed and at ease at the task which lies ahead. A visibly bigger Canelo looked equally focused and relaxed as he headed to the ring in ominous fashion.

Round one began as many expected it to, GGG marching forward and taking the centre of the ring while Canelo looked to box on the back foot. Not much of note went down in the first session, but Canelo landed a stern body counter shot after evading a Golovkin hook. The Mexican certainly looked sharper early on and landed the cleaner work.

More of the same followed in the second, more endeavour from GGG but the cleaner and more effective shots coming from a controlled Canelo. Golovkin was starting to look predictable in his approach.

I made it a clean sweep for Canelo after another shrewd display in the third round, Golovkin finding it hard to find his range with Canelo fighting so well on the back foot, his uppercut the pick of the punches in the round.