By: Sean Crose
Saul Canelo Alvarez had earned back a lot of the good will he had lost. After more than a little time looking as if he were avoiding middleweight terror Gennady Golovkin, the Mexican star pleased the fight world immensely by finally agreeing to face the feared Kazakh. For the fans who fretted that perhaps, no, Canelo really might not be eager to take on all comers, it was time to breathe a sigh of relief. The fighter truly was a sportsman through and through. The intensely measured practicality that so many modern boxers employed at the expense of the good ‘ol competitive spirit would, in the end, not control the young superstar from Guadalajara. Canelo really was, it seemed, the warrior fans had hoped he would be.
And, sure enough, Canelo proved to be some kind of fighter this past Saturday night at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, where he traded shots with Golovkin for twelve straight rounds. It was a terrific affair, one which more than lived up to its pre fight hype. The bout ended in a draw, but it was the scoring of judge Adalaide Byrd, not the outcome, that ended up leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths. For the veteran official’s jarringly wide conclusion in Canelo’s favor sent Twitter into a tizzy and Teddy Atlas into a rant. Little surprise. The Canelo-GGG fight was many things, but a 10 round to 2 blowout – which is what Byrd scored the match – it most certainly was not.
Even without the controversy, however, it seemed after the fight that a rematch would clearly be in order. Golovkin, who still reigns as the king of the middleweight hill with numerous belts around his waist, looked eager to get it on with Canelo once more. And, to be fair, Canelo seemed eager for a rematch, too – at least on the surface of things. Looking a little more closely at the man’s words, though, it appears as if he might be willing to put a second go round with Golovkin off for at least a bit. Saying you want a rematch is one thing. Saying you want one if it’s “what the fans want” makes it all seem a bit less unequivocal.
“Look, right now I want to take some time off. I want to rest the rest of the year and then, yes, definitely, we’ll sit down with our team and decide what’s next.”
These were Canelo’s words during Saturday’s post fight press conference, after he was asked directly if he wanted a rematch on Cinco de Mayo weekend next spring. Needless to say, those words were not exactly a ringing endorsement for what would undoubtedly be the biggest fight in boxing. Those who know boxing, frankly, know how to translate such statements. They tend to mean: “Look, right now, I’m of a mind to put this thing off for at least a while.” Why, one might ask, would Canelo be less than interested in engaging in another superfight?
Perhaps it’s because he feels he dodged a figurative bullet Saturday, thanks to Vegas being Vegas. Or perhaps he really doesn’t think fighting Golovkin is that big a deal and he’s an aloof dude by nature. Or perhaps he knows that GGG is going to be thirty six next year, that GGG’s been having trouble with recent opponents (himself included) and that it will help his cause to age GGG out further. This, of course, would be less than honorable, especially when one considers the fact that boxing’s powers that be seem to some to favor Canelo already. In fairness, though, no one knows what’s going through Canelo’s mind right now.
He more than delivered on Saturday, after all. And for all anyone knows, the fighter will deliver again – and promptly at that.