LAS VEGAS – Lineal and Ring Magazine Middleweight World Champion Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) and WBC/WBA/IBF/IBO Middleweight World Champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) retained their respective titles in a back-in-forth war that was ruled a draw on Mexican Independence Day in front of a sold-out crowd of 22,358 raucous fans at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas presented live by HBO Pay-Per-View and before 17,931 Closed Circuit attendees.
The action-packed fight featured everything a boxing fan would hope for in a battle that not only featured the two best middleweights in the world, but the two of the best pound-for-pound fighters. Canelo took an early lead, outboxing Golovkin from the outside with lateral movement, a quick jab and hard counterpunches to the body. As the rounds progressed, Golovkin returned fire, tapping through the middle of Canelo’s guard before ripping left and right hands around it. The action reached its peak in the championship rounds, where both men went back and forth, exchanging bomb after bomb in an explosive attempt to avoid scorecards. Adalaide Byrd scored the fight 118-110 for Canelo. Dave Moretti scored the fight 115-113 for Golovkin, and Don Trella scored the fight a 114-114 draw.
Celebrities in attendance for this sold-out event included LL Cool J, George Lopez, Randy Orton, Chris Brown, Mario Lopez, Micheal Strahan, Jamie Foxx, Dave Chapelle, Chris Walhberg, Victor Espinoza, and former world champions Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and Miguel Cotto.
“I thought I won the fight,” said Canelo Alvarez. “I think I was superior inside the ring. I won at least seven or eight rounds. I was able to counterpunch, and even make Gennady wobble a couple times. It’s up to the people if we fight again. I feel frustrated over this draw.” When asked if he felt Golovkin’s power, Canelo said, “No, truthfully, not really. There wasn’t any power that surprised me. In the first rounds, I came out to see what he had. Then I was building from there. Yes, of course I want the rematch. Obviously, if the people want it, then yes.”
“It’s a big drama show,” said Gennady Golovkin. “I want to thank all my fans. I want to thank all my Kazakhstan fans for supporting me, for coming out. Of course I want a rematch. This was a real fight. Look, I still have all the belts. I’m still the champion.”
Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz, Jr. (25-0, 13 KOs) scored a dominant 12-round unanimous decision victory against Rafael “Big Bang” Rivera (25-1-2, 16 KOs) to earn a shot at the WBC Featherweight title. Diaz, a native of South El Monte, California, boxed comfortably from his southpaw stance throughout the fight, pawing with his right hand before unleashing powerful right hooks and straight left hands on Rivera, a native of Tijuana, Mexico. Diaz won with two scores of 119-109 and one score of 120-108.
“I feel like I had a good performance overall,” said Joseph Diaz. “I was able to put pressure and dictate the pace of the fight, and be able to enter into a lot of exchanges. Rivera is strong, has good body shots, and had good speed. I think we gave them a good show tonight.”
“I feel that trying to make weight in time for the fight really drained me,” said Rafael Rivera. “I wasn’t able to perform at my tiptop best. Other than that, I believe we did good despite the circumstances.”
Diego De La Hoya (20-0, 9 KOs) outclassed Randy “El Matador” Caballero (24-1, 14 KOs) over 10 rounds to win the NABF and NABO Super Bantamweight titles by unanimous decision. De La Hoya, of Mexicali, Mexico, started off explosively by landing a fusillade of punches that caused Caballero’s left eye to swell by the third round. Caballero, who fights out of Coachella, California, was the aggressor for much of the fight, but De La Hoya’s speed and size advantage nullified Caballero’s offense. De La Hoya won with scores of 90-100, 92-98, and 92-98.
Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin (20-0, 11 KOs) opened the HBO Pay-Per-View telecast with a 10-round split decision victory against Francisco Rojo (19-3, 12 KOs) to unify his WBC Continental Americas and the vacant WBA Intercontinental Lightweight titles. Martin, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, used his footwork and high-guard defense to box from the outside, while Rojo cut off the ring to land hooks to the body and head of the Mexico, City, Mexico native. As the rounds progressed, Martin and Rojo exchanged more and more explosively, though Martin was deducted a point in the ninth round for excessive low-blows. By the end of the fight, Rojo was coming on stronger, though it was not enough to win on all the judge scorecards. Martin won with scores of 95-94 and 96-93, while one judge scored it 98-91 for Rojo.
“I didn’t feel 100% tonight, even though I got the split decision,” said Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin. “I know I fought a good fight despite the adversity in the ring. I know the judge that scored in favor of Rojo recognized good boxing in him. I’m glad I have this new belt and it’s on to the next.”
Serhii Bohachuk (5-0, 5 KOs), the rising Ukrainian super welterweight prospect trained by Abel Sanchez, defeated Joan Valenzuela (5-9-1, 5 KOs) via second-round technical knockout in a fight scheduled for four rounds. Bohachuk overwhelmed Valenzuela with hard shots to the body and head before stopping him at 1:58 of the second round.
“He was a good opponent, I’m happy I won,” said Serhii Bohachuk. It was a tough fight, but I kept working at it and came out on top.”
Super lightweight prospect Vergil Ortiz, Jr. (7-0, 7 KOs) of Dallas, Texas scored an impressive second-round technical knockout victory against Cesar Valenzuela (7-2, 2 KOs) in a scheduled six-round fight. Ortiz unleashed a vicious body attack on the body of Valenzuela, forcing the Mexican-born resident of Phoenix, Arizona to drop to his knees twice before the referee called the fight at 1:22 of the second round.
“I just do what my coaches tell me to do,” said Vergil Ortiz Jr. “They knew how this fight was going to end, and kept reminding me to go towards the body. I’m super happy to get the win, and this is just another fight on the way.”
In the first bout of the evening, Marlen Esparza (3-0), the 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist of Houston, Texas, scored a six-round unanimous decision victory against Aracely Palacios (8-8, 1 KO) in the flyweight division. Esparza showed the influence of her world-renowned trainer, Virgil Hunter, as she intelligently used her left hand to jab and gauge distance before landing combinations from the outside on Palacios, a native of Durango, Mexico. Esparza cruised to her win with three scores of 60-54.