LAS VEGAS — Gennady Golovkin and trainer Abel Sanchez mocked Canelo Alvarez at every turn in the vitriolic lead-up to the rematch.
They complimented him on his track shoes; claimed that the Mexican “ran” during the first meeting (that ended in a draw) last September and said he didn’t try to win.
Golovkin and Sanchez begged Canelo to be more aggressive in the return encounter in an attempt to lure him into a firefight with the brick-fisted GGG. They got exactly what they wished for.
Alvarez eked out a majority decision victory over GGG in the hotly anticipated rematch on Saturday before 21,965 at T-Mobile Arena and claimed the vacant Ring middleweight championship in an action-packed matchup. One judge scored it even, 114-114, while the other two scorecards favored Alvarez via tallies of 115-113.
He let out a primal roar as he was announced as the new champion, seemingly exorcising himself of all the demons that surely haunted him following his positive test result for the banned substance clenbuterol. The adverse finding cancelled the rematch that was scheduled for May 5 and set the wheels in motion for a heated promotion that featured plenty of name-calling.
GGG claimed afterward that he noticed injection marks on Canelo’s biceps and abs in the first fight, proof that Canelo was doping. Canelo was adamant: it was now personal, and he backed up his words with his fighting style.
Alvarez applied non-stop pressure in the HBO Pay-Per-View main event, a departure from his proclivity for counter-punching in the first bout that ended in controversy. GGG — and the majority of the public — felt he deserved the nod last year, and the Kazakh was stung by the decision.
He was seething again Saturday, and fled the ring before HBO’s Max Kellerman could interview him. Prior to the reveal of the judges’ decision, it was clear the fighters finally found mutual respect. When the 12th round began, Canelo and Golovkin slowly met and touched both gloves. When the vicious final frame concluded, they shared a long embrace.
How could they not find respect after such a violent affair?
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger