Like just about everybody else, HBO boxing commentator Max Kellerman believes that the scorecard handed in by judge Adalaide Byrd at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night, which favoured Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez over Gennady Golovkin by an astounding eight-point margin, was significantly wide of the mark.
Kellerman, however, wasn’t necessarily outraged by the end result of the massive middleweight title fight – a draw.
“The fact of the matter is, any scorecard between six rounds to six, or eight rounds to four for ‘Triple G’ – like if you had it 6-6, 7-5 or 8-4 ‘Triple G’ – those are all reasonable ranges,” Kellerman said on a recent edition of ESPN’s First Take. “And considering one judge had it even and one judge had it for ‘Triple G’, if Adalaide Byrd had it 6-6 – which would have been reasonable – it would have been a majority draw anyway. So her scorecard was outrageous, but it didn’t necessarily change the outcome of the fight.”
“Here’s the bottom line, ‘Triple G’ had to put his nose in there and keep it in there and not worry as much about the counters that were coming from ‘Canelo,'” added Kellerman, who did score the fight 115-113 in favour of Golovkin. “‘Canelo’ fought an excellent fight, to the point where he was the smaller guy, he was the underdog, he has less punching power, but he was able to box well enough in spots and turn it on when he needed to. You could have given the first three rounds to ‘Canelo’, or two out of the three. You could have given the last three rounds, or two out of the three, to ‘Canelo’. [It’s] perfectly reasonable for people to say, ‘I gave the first and last three to ‘Canelo’ and had a draw.'”
Kellerman’s slight criticism of Golovkin’s approach was interesting, nay, tantalizing. Luckily, he expanded upon the point during a subsequent appearance on his First Take colleague Stephen A. Smith’s radio show.
Despite the fact that Golovkin had spoken pre-fight of his intention to impose the ‘Mexican style’ upon one of Mexico’s greatest boxing sons – who himself is not a purveyor of the style – Kellerman feels that ‘Triple G’ didn’t fully embrace the mentality or ethos that goes with said approach.
“I thought ‘Triple G’ may have been showing his age,” Kellerman suggested to Smith. “Maybe it’s that when you fight Danny Jacobs, the second best middleweight in the world, when you fight ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, on that night the second best middleweight in the world, it’s different than fighting just regular top ten guys. You don’t look like the same kind of world-beater. Maybe it’s that combined with the fact that he’s 35.
“But, Stephen A., when you’re fighting a great counter-puncher, if you want to win decisively, you got to fight the way that Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. fought Edwin Rosario – who was a much bigger puncher than ‘Canelo’, for a lightweight. You have to be willing to put your nose in there, risk getting knocked out yourself – which is humiliating, especially when ‘Triple G’ has worked his entire life for this moment – in order to pin the guy on the ropes and keep working him.”
Though he pressed the action and consequently took plenty of shots throughout the gripping twelve-rounder, there were moments in which Golovkin seemed surprisingly and uncharacteristically hesitant. In the fourth – the round in which Golovkin started to really find his range – he landed a heavy right hand on Alvarez along the ropes. The 27-year-old Mexican took it well and beckoned Golovkin in. It was obvious that ‘Canelo’ was trying to lure ‘Triple G’ into traps and onto counters, and the Kazakh neglected to really open up as a result. It may have seemed like an intelligent move but it was also a cautious one, and it was caution that Kellerman feels robbed Golovkin of the chance to score a truly decisive victory.
“When ‘Triple G’ got ‘Canelo’ to the ropes, he still boxed from a distance because he has an Eastern European influence on his style, not just Mexican,” said Kellerman of Golovkin, who is trained by Mexican coach Abel Sanchez. “And in so doing – yes, I thought he won the fight – but he also gave ‘Canelo’ some escape routes. He didn’t get in there and muscle him and keep him on those ropes and in that corner, which is what I thought he needed to do to maybe even score a knockout – which I thought was possible from him.”
“If you want to be a great pressure fighter – and ‘Triple G’ talks about ‘Mexican style’, and I love ‘Triple G’, I’m a huge ‘Triple G’ fan – but if you want to win your super-fight that way, you have to be willing to take those risks. You might get knocked out, but that’s the risk you have to be willing to take.”
You can listen to the full interview below…