WBN scored it 115-113 in favor of Golovkin, although all three judges agreed with eight rounds on every cards (including the WBN card). And he was stunned again with a tight decision favouring Mexico's Canelo, on the eve of his country's Independence Day.
Alvarez was the more aggressive of the fighters and waded forward in the early rounds. I feel satisfied because I gave a great fight. "It was a clear victory".
But Alvarez - who sustained a cut above his left eye which worsened as the bout developed - began to close distance in order to nullify Golovkin's jab.
He later said he believed he had done enough to win - and opened the door for a possible third instalment. I gave the fight to Canelo.
A replay of the fight will be shown Saturday at 10:05 p.m. ET on HBO.
While Golovkin appeared to take issue with the result, there was little sense of controversy about Saturday's outcome.
"Look, the judges were good judges", said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin's trainer.
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"I had it close going into the 12th round", Sanchez said.
Golovkin told reporters afterwards: "I'm not going to say who won tonight, because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges. He fought a great fight".
Both fighters fought cagily from the outset, reluctant to trade heavy blows. Golden Boy, who promotes Canelo Alvarez also chose to celebrate both men, even though they had a vested interest in seeing their man come out the victor.
Golovkin deserves home court this time.
"I showed my victory with facts", Alvarez said in his postfight interview. Golovkin threw more punches (879 to Alvarez's 622) and landed more (234 to 202), but Alvarez connected on 143 of his 366 power punches, compared with Golovkin's 116 of 332. Per tradition with a Las Vegas championship fight, stars were aplenty in the crowd. It was a technical battle in which Alvarez's skill and quickness edged it out.
The truth is, Canelo didn't deserve a draw a year ago and then failed a drugs test, meaning his win leaves a bad taste in the mouth of a lot of people. Undoubtedly. And after 24 rounds of of action and dueling intensity, did the 36-year-old Golovkin deserve better from his two trips to Las Vegas over the past year? Called a diva and a heel by many in recent months, Alvarez very much acted the part of a must-see performer as the biggest pay-per-view draw in American boxing.
Between 2009 and 2016, Golovkin knocked out 22 consecutive opponents.
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