Three weeks earlier, De La Hoya tweeted a harsh expletive about the Aug. 26 Floyd Mayweather Jr. novelty boxing match against UFC champion Conor McGregor. He called it an insult to boxing and promised that Alvarez-Golovkin would showcase the best traits of the sport.
He could've avoided tweeting because the fury, skill and drama of Saturday's bout eloquently communicated that separation in quality.
"Canelo was going for broke in the end," De La Hoya said. "We didn't get the knockout, but the fans got a great fight and that's what matters."
It has been a tremendous year for the sport that has included the emergence of heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua of England, strong showings by multi-belt unbeatens Andre Ward and Terence Crawford and rising stars such as Mikey Garcia, Errol Spence and Vasyl Lomachenko.
Golovkin (37-0-1) seemed to be nearing his 34th knockout during the middle rounds, rocking Alvarez in the fifth and seventh and unquestionably operating as the pursuer.
"Gennady pressed the action on a continual basis and I thought it was pretty clear for him," Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler said. "He's still the champion."
Yet Alvarez rallied impressively in the championship rounds and belted Golovkin in the 10th with one of his power punches.
Golovkin, long considered one of the sport's most indestructible fighters, stumbled left and backward, then also lost the 11th and 12th.
"He's not the monster everybody made him out to be," Alvarez said. "I'm not afraid of anyone."
Alvarez simply smiled when asked if he believes the performance down the stretch leaves the impression he won this fight while boding well for the next fight.
"I know how to recognize when my fighter wins or loses," said Chepo Reynoso, Alvarez's veteran trainer. "And today was a victory."
Former middleweight champion and current Golden Boy Promotions executive Bernard Hopkins said: "One thing I saw tonight is that Triple-G (Golovkin) is on the decline. He didn't get better. He fought a guy who was quicker. If he fought (Alvarez) again, it'll be easier" for Alvarez.
Alvarez said he "definitely" can envision a rematch and revealed he'll rest until May, depriving Miguel Cotto of a planned shot at Saturday's winner in what the six-time world champion said would be his final fight, Dec. 2 at Madison Square Garden.
"Of course I want the rematch," Golovkin said. "Real Mexican-style fighters do not run from best fight, from history."
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