Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez could not be separated by the judges as their gripping megafight ended in a draw.
The superstars gave it their all in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but after ‘Triple G’ forced the pace throughout, the decision was roundly booed by the sold-out crowd.
Adalaide Byrd’s opening score of 118-110 in Alvarez’s favour stunned those watching, Don Trella gave it 115-113 for Golovkin and after 12 non-stop, fascinating rounds, it was perhaps no surprise when Dave Moretti’s 114-114 confirmed the draw.
It means the pair are expected to meet again to decide the world’s best middleweight, with the IBF, WBA and WBC belts staying with the unbeaten Golovkin, even if he admitted he was unable to play his part in a familiar “drama show”.
‘Canelo’ was booed when he suggested he had won “seven or eight rounds” and it was no surprise when the Mexican called for a rematch and the Kazakhstan icon did exactly the same.
Their reaction summed up an honest and engaging fight between two modern-day greats.
Having made Las Vegas his home, Alvarez made the sharper start, circling and landing an early combination then countering a wild right from Golovkin that didn’t even brush his bushy ginger beard.
The second round followed suit and although Golovkin’s ramrod jab was starting to fire, the fact that the Mexican danced a shuffle as the bell sounded, suggested he was more comfortable as they both left their reputation and legacy on the line.
Golovkin though shot out for the third, intensely driving forward, forcing the pace and pressure that he is known for.
He landed a decent left hook then pinned ‘Canelo’ on the ropes for the first time in the fourth and watching him carefully trying to unlock his guard, rather than batter it open, proved he knew he couldn’t afford to make a single mistake.
A lovely right uppercut showed that the Mexican can mix it when he wants and in the eighth round he even took the centre of the ring and bullied ‘Triple G’ onto his back foot, but it was a momentary lapse in the 35-year-old’s typical onslaught.
The ninth round saw them go head to head for the first time, ‘Canelo’ seemingly short on breath and Golovkin, happy to be entering darker waters, switched from his stalking approach into full-on hunting mode.
‘Canelo’ though was happy to stand there and meet him and the 10th round saw them both open up and swap shots, the crowd off its seats as Golovkin stumbled off balance after a three-punch combination. The fact they ended the round with their first clinch of the night, implied there really was nothing between them.
Golovkin seemed to still be landing more shots as it went into the penultimate round, while Canelo found another gear and sent out an impressive combination to tee up what was a typically ferocious finale.
Not for the first time, they were happy to meet in the middle, ‘Triple G’ going for it, the Mexican this time doing the same.
Both landed big rights just before the bell but with both showing they have solid chins and both feeling they were the winner, the blue touch paper fizzled out with the subjective scoring dampening an expected explosive end.