LAS VEGAS — If Gennady “GGG” Golovkin agrees to a third fight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, he would likely want a change of venue after enduring two decisions at T-Mobile Arena that didn’t go his way. Madison Square Garden needs to get that fight.
The morning after Alvarez claimed a majority decision in a rugged 12-round battle, Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, said he would seek a change of scenery for a potential third fight. The first fight a year ago at T-Mobile Arena ended in a controversial draw in which one judge favored Alvarez 118-110. Judge Glenn Feldman had it a 114-114 draw Saturday night, but Steve Weisfeld and Dave Moretti favored Alvarez 115-113, earning him Golovkin’s WBA, WBC and IBO middleweight titles.
“We all felt Gennady won the fight and at worst it would have been a draw where he kept his titles,” Loeffler told The Post on Sunday morning. “For some reason, he can’t seem to get a decision against Canelo in Vegas. We’re not blaming the judges, but at worst he should have kept his titles. Madison Square Garden, in my opinion, for a third fight would make a lot of sense.”
Both fighters seem agreeable to a trilogy after taking a break to rest and heal their wounds. Both suffered cuts over their eyes, wounds from their heavy-handed exchanges that made the second fight better than the first. Either could have been declared the winner and a draw was equally reasonable. Moretti and Weisfeld gave Alvarez the 12th round, which proved the margin of victory.
“I didn’t knock him out, but I’m happy with the victory,” said Alvarez, who becomes the linear middleweight champion. “It’s very important for my career and for my country.”
The first loss of his career denied Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) a chance to set a record with 21 straight middleweight title defenses. It also ended his eight-year reign as a champion.
Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, disagreed with, but didn’t argue, the decision.
“We can’t be hypocritical and stand here and complain about every decision we lose,” he said. “The judges were good judges. They saw the fight in Canelo’s favor. Maybe the next time they’ll see it in our favor.”
A replay of the fight will be shown Saturday at 10:05 p.m. ET on HBO. It was good enough to warrant a third meeting. Unlike the first bout, where Alvarez stayed on his toes and used movement to avoid heavy exchanges, the Mexican stood in the center of the ring and went toe-to-toe with Golovkin. Alvarez didn’t just stand and trade, he forced Golovkin to fight while backing up.
“We saw the best way to defeat him was to make him fight backward,” said Alvarez’s trainer, Eddy Reynoso. “We started in the center of the ring and slowly moved him back.”
Golovkin deserves home court this time. The Garden has been a good venue for the native of Kazakhstan, having fought there five times over the past four years. He won four by knockout before claiming a unanimous decision over Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs in March 2017.
The Garden, still very much in the boxing business, made a significant bid on the rematch. According to sources, the offer would have matched the revenue from the gate from Saturday night’s fight, which would have been around $27 million-$30 million.
“The Garden really wants to have Triple-G back,” Loeffler said, “and a third fight at Madison Square Garden would make a lot of sense. We’ve seen the fight twice in Vegas.”
It didn’t help Golovkin that more than three-quarter of the 21,965 fans Saturday night were pro-Alvarez, wildly cheering every punch he landed. Golovkin would have more of a following if the fight were held at the Garden.
“Madison Square Garden would make a lot of sense,” Loeffler said. “Vegas certainly has a lot of attractive points. We’ll see how it plays out, but if the second fight was better than the first fight and if the third fight is better than the second fight, then I think fans are really in for a treat.”