Depending on one’s perspective, the answer to the question was either a simple or a complex one. Ideally, when one thinks of a trilogy in combat sports, the third fight more often than not serves as a tiebreaker after two fighters subsequently split the first two encounters. There are rare instances where three fights are not enough to settle matters and scenarios where the set up for a trilogy is not ideal. In this case, there was a controversial draw in the first bout between Alvarez and Golovkin and a debated outcome in the second fight where Alvarez was declared the winner by majority decision, but many felt that Golovkin should have won the fight. This won't with the added opinion of many that Golovkin had done enough to win the first fight, and you have a set up for a trilogy that was fast from ideal.
The four years between the second fight and the third fight however, created more questions, primarily surrounding the now forty year old Golovkin and perceived decline he seemed to show in recent fights. Although those questions were fair to ask, I found myself in the days prior to the third fight wondering if, despite his age and seeming decline, if this would simply be ae of the saying that goes hand and hand with the sport of Boxing, “Styles Make Fights.” Perhaps Golovkin's age, assumed decline, and the lengthy period between fights two and three would not matter, and it may have been a scenario where Golovkin's style was something that would always pose problems for Saul Alvarez and result in a very competitive fight that would always be subject to debate.
On September 17th, Alvarez and Golovkin returned to the scene of their previous two encounters the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV for what turned out to be the finale of a great rivalry. Despite the bad blood between the two fighters that had been simmering since before the second fight, the third either l encounter was simply anti-climatic.
This was because of a reluctance of Golovkin, a fighter known for an ability to apply pressure and breaking his opponents down, to engage with Alvarez from the standpoint of letting his hands go consistently.
Whether it was because of his forty years of age, the effects of a long and illustrious career as an amateur and a professional, having only fought twice since the inception of the COVID-19 global epidemic, or a combination of all the above, it was clear that the Gennady Golovkin that entered the ring for the third bout against Saul Alvarez, was not the same fighter who carved out what this observer often referred to as “A Path of Destruction “ through the Middleweight division over the last decade. For the first eight rounds of the scheduled twelve round world championship bout, the combat inside the ring frankly resembled a brisk sparring session simply because Golovkin did not throw enough punches and was not able to make a significant impact with the punches he did throw.
At the conclusion of eight rounds, I had Alvarez winning every round as he was more active and more importantly more effective of the two fighters in an uneventful fight to watch. It was also hard for me not to think as someone who has spent a lifetime covering the sport and having seen many fighters at similar stages that Golovkin was showing in some ways a classic sign of an aging fighter. He likely saw openings throughout the fight, but could not pull the trigger.
Whether it was a combination of the aforementioned issues or not, as someone who has observed fighters of similar age in similar circumstances, it seemed at least to my eyes that the great champion that Golovkin has been throughout his career, simply does not have it anymore. To his credit however, Golovkin was able to show signs of the fighter he was in his prime over the pretty last four rounds to the degree that he appeared to be the more effective fighter down the stretch. Although this rally had me questioning for a time whether Golovkin was playing possum, the burst of activity and a slight de l decline in Alvarez’ output resulted in Golovkin being able to win those final four rounds on my scorecard resulting in an eight rounds to four or 116-112 score in favor of Alvarez, but I will concede that the final four rounds should not be an accurate depiction of what occurred in this fight and my score was simply how things ended up at the conclusion of the fight.
The final verdict of a unanimous decision in favor of Alvarez, unlike the previous two fights was not controversial and if one is objective, should not be debated. Although the third fight between the two f did not produce similar intrigue as the previous two bouts and was underwhelming as many high-priced pay-per-view bouts have tended to be in recent years, ultimately, Saul Alvarez did what he needed to do and retained his undisputed world championship in the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division.
While a rematch with WBA Light-Heavyweight world champion Dmitry Bivol, the man who defeated Alvarez convincingly back in May via unanimous decision to retain his WBA crown, remains a goal for Alvarez, the Super-Middleweight champion indicated after his second victory over Golovkin that he likely needs surgery on his left hand and that could result in him being idle for up to a year. This observer certainly does not have to explain the political landscape that Boxing is conducted under and it is logical to expect that the four world championships that Alvarez holds will likely have mandatory challengers amongst the World Boxing Association, (WBA) the World Boxing Council, (WBC) the World Boxing Organization, (WBO) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF) in the time that Alvarez will be out of action and it is debatable as to whether those sanctioning organizations will allow the championships to remain fully unified if Alvarez is out for a longer period of time and/or has intentions on moving back up to the 175lb. Light-Heavyweight division upon his return to competition.
As for Gennady Golovkin, he still holds three of five world titles in the 160lb. Middleweight division an indicated that he will move back down in weight to resume defending his title there. Although the lure of trying to become an undisputed world champion is a strong one that fighters find it hard to resist if they are a unified world champion in a given weight class, having seen what appeared to be signs of decline in Golovkin in recent fights as well as this performance where he seemed to be simply sharing the ring with his opponent for the first eight rounds, perhaps Golovkin and those close to him need to sit down and discuss his future as a fighter. He is a two-time Middleweight champion of the world and has established a legacy that will one day see him enter any Hall of Fame associated with the sport.
As someone who has chronicled his career for over a decade, I feel he has nothing more to prove, his legacy is secure as a true all-time great champion. If this turns out to be the end of the road of a great career Gennady Golovkin can hold his head high as not only a great fighter, but a credit to the sport.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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