Column Despite obvious drawbacks, the GGG-Canelo fight was all that

 latimes.com  9/17/2017 5:30:16 AM   Dylan Hernandez
Alvarez vs. Golovkin

Didn’t agree with the decision Saturday night? Believe that Gennady Golovkin won the fight? Outraged by the 118-110 scorecard for Canelo Alvarez that was turned in by judge Adalaide Byrd?

There’s nothing wrong with that.

What’s wrong is to point to the split draw between Alvarez and Golovkin as a miscarriage of justice, the latest example of what’s wrong with boxing.

The result didn’t provide the closure fans want at the conclusion of a fight. But the verdict was nonetheless fair — or, at the very least, reasonable.

This was a close fight that was hard to score.

I scored the fight for Alvarez, 115-113. Lance Pugmire saw the fight even, 114-114. I didn’t have any strong objections to Pugmire’s scorecard, or that of anyone who scored the fight in favor of Golovkin.

Golovkin thought he won the fight.

“I put pressure on every round,” he said.

Alvarez thought he won, too.

“I feel frustrated with the draw,” he said.

It was that kind of fight.

The controversy over scoring shouldn’t overshadow what was a spectacular night of boxing. The sport that disappoints more than any other finally delivered a violent masterpiece that was promised.

Alvarez departed the ring to a chorus of boos from the crowd that backed him throughout the night, an unfortunate and cruel twist for a courageous fighter who performed better than he ever had in a boxing ring.

Observers who viewed Golovkin as the rightful winner were clearly influenced by the sight of him advancing and Alvarez retreating.

Perhaps they failed to see how Alvarez often made Golovkin miss, how he countered his opponent. Perhaps they forgot how he rocked Golovkin with a two-punch combination upstairs.

When the Mexico-born Alvarez started fighting in the United States nine years ago, it was hard to imagine he would ever perform like this.

He was something of a novelty, a red-haired Mexican with movie star looks. He looked like a star, but didn’t always fight like one. He was a hard puncher, but his feet were painfully slow. Many questioned if he was anything more than a media creation.

Alvarez was paid handsomely for doing relatively little. He could have settled for a comfortable life as a good but not great fighter, but didn’t. He improved his defense. He became lighter on his feet. He wasn’t afraid to take on elusive fighters who figured to give him trouble, including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout.

Alvarez took on his greatest challenge Saturday night, when he stepped into the ring with a destroyer from Kazakhstan with 18 consecutive defenses of his middleweight championship.

Alvarez won the first three rounds on my scorecard. He outboxed Golovkin, slipping punches and landing quick counters. Golovkin looked cautious, flicking his jab instead of using it to inflict damage, as he typically does.

Golovkin never stopped advancing, however, and the momentum of the fight shifted in the fourth round.

Golovkin started landing hard shots and backing Alvarez up against the ropes. The way Golovkin applied pressure was somehow reminiscent of Felix Trinidad, the Puerto Rican knockout artist who dominated the 147- to 160-pound divisions in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Alvarez had trouble slowing down Golovkin, but, unlike many of the Golovkin’s previous opponents, he didn’t give in.

Near the end of the eighth round, Alvarez fought back, landing solid counters.

The ninth round was particularly vicious, with the fighters trading uppercuts in the opening minute. Golovkin appeared to get the better of the exchange and won the round.

Alvarez fired back in the 10th. He made Golovkin wobble with a hard two-punch combination to the head. Golovkin pressed the action in the second half of the round, but Alvarez stayed away and won the round.

Alvarez won a close 11th round. A strong first minute of the 12th gave him the final round as well.

Alvarez won the final three rounds on all three scorecards. He won the last three rounds on my card as well.

“This is terrible,” Golovkin said. “Unbelievable.”

Golovkin couldn’t be blamed for feeling like that. He risked his health and absorbed considerable punishment in search of victory.

The disgust over Byrd’s scorecard was understandable, too.

“The first score we saw was a little bit rough,” Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, said in the understatement of the night.

Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, also acknowledged Byrd’s score was out of line.

Both fighters said they would welcome a rematch.

The next fight could be even better than this one, as it could provide something the initial encounter couldn’t produce: A clear outcome.

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