By Frank Warren
TWO OF THE finest middleweights in the land showed the world what boxing is all about in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday morning.
It was a demonstration – from both Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin – of skill, strength, stealth, brutality, durability and incredible heart, among many other attributes you might care to mention.
It was a fight that had nearly everything between two gladiators at the top of their game.
Of course, with great evenly-matched fights there is generally nothing much to choose between the participants, which results in a dash of controversy being added to the cocktail.
Opinions are naturally divided over the outcome and, for the record, I had Golovkin winning by three rounds. My take on proceedings – give or take a round – is a view shared by many, but it matters little because only the opinions of the three wise men at ringside count when it comes to the final reckoning.
That is not to say that Golovkin does not have the right to feel a bit hard done by and the policy of the Nevada commission of insisting on appointing in-house judges is always going to lead to accusations of favouring the home fighter in close rounds.
That is what we got once again at the T-Mobile Arena and you have to credit Canelo for his switch of approach from the first encounter in taking the fight to Golovkin, who is usually the aggressor.
Nobody wants to say that you are up against it getting a decision as the away fighter in Vegas, but when judges from outside the State are not allowed to officiate there will always be questions. Impartiality is paramount in boxing and Nevada doesn’t help itself in this respect by barring the appointment of neutral officials. It is not something I agree with.
I am not having a pop at the judges from the weekend – although two of those in the first fight were awful – but to be transparent I don’t think the state commission should be appointing the officials for a marquee fight of such importance in our sport.
The fact that over two fights only one card out of six was returned in favour of Golovkin tells its own story. How can that be?
It is a shame because the first fight was also fantastic and all we talked about after was the judging. There is not such a sense of injustice this time around because it was a close run thing and we can focus on that we witnessed two master exponents of the trade at work against each other.
They are two of the top guys in the business at the weight and I believe we are going to get more the same with the featherweights when Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton go at it in Manchester on December 22.
Golovkin and Canelo are so good at what they do and such tough operators that, barring the need for a few running repairs, they couldn’t put a dent in one another. That is what you get when you match the best with the best.
Looking ahead, I imagine a rematch is inevitable at some stage and although age is not on Golovkin’s side he didn’t look tired or shop-worn to me. It will happen at some point and the tell-tale sign when fighters get older is when they lose the ability to get out of the way.
The only one who managed to remain, elusive and not get caught or clipped was Floyd Mayweather. It catches up with the rest and the legs are the first thing to go.
We’ve now got Britain’s superfight two look forward to between Josh and Carl who, like Canelo and Golovkin, are also at the top of their game and as somebody said to me, it is like the apex of the sport.
It is two guys right in their pomp, who have not been bashed up or seen better days. Carl has lost one fight, which is not the end of the world, and has come back and shown he has got plenty left in the tank. Josh is on the up and we have a fight between two guys who are bang in form and that is what it is all about.
We’re not talking about a fight between people who are being recycled and are not even the best in Britain, we are talking about one where both fighters are in the top four in the world in their division.
You’ve got to hand it to Josh for being prepared to jump straight from the frying pan of defeating Lee Selby – which most observers said he wouldn’t – and into the fire of Frampton when he could have bided his time.
He wants to be in the biggest fights and that is what he’s got, and Carl for accepting the challenge to determine who is the best. The rest of us are in for another fistic treat just before our Christmas feast.