Canelo Álvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin II

The Álvarez vs. Golovkin II fight was one of the best boxing matches in recent memory. Because the fight was so close, I created the following analysis.

First, here is a short recap of the fight from the Wikipedia article.

Canelo Álvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin II was a professional boxing rematch between Canelo Álvarez and Gennady Golovkin which took place at T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada on September 15, 2018. Alvarez won by majority decision.

In front of a sellout crowd of 21,965, the fight was again not without controversy as Álvarez defeated Golovkin via majority decision after 12 rounds.  Álvarez was favored by judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld, both scoring the bout 115-113, the third judge Glenn Fieldman scored it 114-114. The result was disputed by fans, pundits, and media.  Of the 18 media outlets scoring the bout, 10 ruled in favor of Golovkin, 7 scored it a draw, while 1 scored the bout for Álvarez.  The scorecards showed how close the bout was, with the judges splitting eight rounds.  After 9 rounds, all three judges had their scores reading 87-84 for Álvarez.

Here is my analysis of the fight focusing on the following metrics: 1) punches thrown, 2) jabs landed, and 3) power punches landed.

I’ve taken the CompuBox numbers below and created a few visualizations in Power BI, along with an analysis in Excel.

First, let’s take a look at the CompuBox totals that we will be working with.

Placing the needed metrics into a spreadsheet gives us a better overview of the metrics we will use.

Looking at punches thrown, Golovkin was the more active fighter in each of the 12 rounds, throwing on average 20 more punches.   

However, Álvarez was the more efficient fighter in 9 of the 12 rounds, as his punches were more calculated. 

Often, the more active puncher controls the pace of the fight and is considered the aggressor, which can be favorable in the eyes of the judges.  Note here that punches thrown include both landed and un-landed punches.

The jab is the least powerful punch in boxing but often the most important as it is used to measure distance, setup combinations, and mask movement. 

When viewing jabs landed, Golovkin has the upper hand in this category as well. 

Golovkin landed more jabs in each of the 12 rounds, averaging 5 more landed jabs per round. 

Looking at rounds 3, 6, 9, and 11, the numbers of jabs landed are remarkably close.

Power punches are the most significant punch that causes the most damage; they include the uppercut, hook, and cross punch. 

Golovkin landed more power punches in only 2 of the 12 rounds but largely kept pace in the first 5 rounds with Álvarez’s power punches. 

Beginning in round 6, Álvarez starts to control the fight more with his power punch, landing on average 4 to 5 more power punches in these rounds.

Another interesting note is that Álvarez connected more power punches than jabs in 11 of the 12 rounds. The only round Álvarez threw more jabs was the 1st round, which is generally when boxers throw the fewest punches and are getting a feel for their opponent and measuring distance.  In contrast, Golovkin landed more jabs in 6 of the 12 rounds.

So, who really won?

Boxing uses subjective measurements to determine the winner of the match.  The judges may count total punches, considering aggression, control of the ring, tempo of the fight, damage inflicted, and the boxer’s efficiency.  Boxing matches have 3 judges scoring the bout, and each judge puts different weights on the above measurements.

To create my own scorecard, I created the following weights on each of the punch metrics we discussed above. In this point system, power punches landed are heavily favored.

My rationale for these points is as follows. 

  • 1 point for a punch thrown and 3 points for a landed jab, as this generally shows aggression, control, and tempo.  A landed jab would be worth 3 times as much as a thrown punch, equating to 4 points, as it would include 3 points for the landing and 1 point for the throw.
  • 11 points for a power punch, as these are the most detrimental and desirable punches to land.  A landed power punch would be worth 3 times as much as a landed jab.  The boxer would also get 1 point for the punch thrown in addition to landing the punch.

Adding the points system to each of the punches, we get the following totals.

Rounds 1 and 9 are extremely close and could be considered toss-ups, along with round 11, all of which equate in Golovkin’s favor, given my scorecard system.


Totaling up the results, I have Golovkin winning 9 of the 12 rounds for a score of 117 to 111 (even with the high point value I give to power punches). There were no knockdowns by either boxer in this fight, and 3 of the 12 rounds were extremely close and could have gone either way.