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Canelo Alvarez Puts to Bed One of Boxing's Best Rivalries

Alvarez cemented himself as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters against Gennady Golovkin—and made it look easy.

Canelo Alvarez dominated Gennady Golovkin in their trilogy bout, resoundingly putting an end to their long-standing rivalry.

The 12-round bout was never in doubt, with Alvarez (58-2-2) attacking early. He controlled the first eight rounds, until Golovkin (42-2-1) finally showed signs of life in the ninth round. Age played a factor, as the 40-year-old Golovkin lacked the speed that made him such a force throughout his career. Prior to Saturday’s fight, the eight years separating him and Alvarez never served as a major factor in their first two bouts—but it certainly did last night.

Alvarez boxes in a captivating manner, and he has influenced a plethora of fighters. One, in particular, is emerging Bellator star Aaron Pico, who continues to learn from every round Alvarez fights.

“I’ve been inspired by Canelo for years, and I have so much respect for him,” Pico says. “It was really cool to see how he set the tone early against Golovkin.”

Speaking from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Pico spoke with Sports Illustrated moments after Alvarez successfully defended his undisputed super middleweight title.

“Early on in the fight for Canelo, he was the hunter,” Pico says. “He had a lot to prove given the fact that he lost his last fight. Props to him for going up to 175, but that extra weight played a factor [in the loss at light heavyweight this May to Dmitry Bivol]. This is the perfect weight class for Canelo. Now that he’s back to 160, his speed and timing flowed, and those were problems for Golovkin. And he set the tone very early, making Golovkin feel his power right from the start.”

Canelo Alvarez vs. GGG in Saturday’s trilogy.

Alvarez’s hand is raised after 12 rounds, officially ending his long-standing rivalry with Golovkin.

As the fight extended into the later rounds, Alvarez did not look as sharp as he did early on. While this was not his greatest masterpiece, it was an extremely meaningful victory. He avenged that loss in May, and did so by putting an end to one of boxing’s best rivalries.

“Canelo needed to prove to himself that he’s still one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters on the planet,” Pico says. “And that’s what he did.”

Surprisingly, despite the one-sided affair in the ring, two of the judges scored this fight one round apart with scorecards of 115-113. It is a mystery how they reached that conclusion, and Pico shared his frustration.

“Maybe Triple G won two or three rounds, but 115-113, that’s crazy,” Pico says. “Boxing really needs to tighten up their scoring system because that’s absolutely ridiculous. People’s livelihoods depend on this, so it needs to be better. I don’t know the answer—I would never want to be a judge—but they need to tighten things up. This was clearly Canelo’s fight.”

After 36 rounds in five years, Alvarez and Golovkin embrace after the unanimous decision. 

After 36 rounds in five years, Alvarez and Golovkin embrace after the unanimous decision. 

Pico (10-3) next fights on Oct. 1 at Bellator 286 in a featherweight bout against Jeremy Kennedy. Riding a six-fight win streak, the 25-year-old Pico overwhelms opponents with a blend of grappling and power that few others in the sport possess.

“My goal is to push the pace and break Jeremy Kennedy,” Pico says. “With the power I have, I feel I can knock him out early. I think it’s going to be a great night for us.”

It is only a matter of time before Pico challenges for the featherweight title. That is a crowded scene that also includes reigning champ Patrício “Pitbull” Freire, AJ McKee, Adam Borics, and Mads Burnell—but he believes he is the one to redefine the division.

“I’m mentally and physically ready to be champion,” Pico says. “I’m waiting for that phone call. There is only one man standing in my way right now, and that’s Jeremy Kennedy, but I feel like I could fight for the title right now and win it. When I get that phone call, myself and my team, we’ll be ready. I don’t want to just be a good champion. I want to be a great champion.”

Pico drew further inspiration from Saturday night’s performance by Alvarez, who left no doubt he was the better fighter against Golovkin.

“My mindset in a fight is, ‘Don’t let it happen, make it happen,’” Pico says. “Canelo made that known from the start by coming after Golovkin. He let his hands go and executed his game plan. He had a chip on his shoulder, and he went out and proved he is still the king.”

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