LAS VEGAS • Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is eyeing a trilogy with Gennady Golovkin after ending the middleweight champion's unbeaten reign on Saturday.
Mexican star Alvarez produced a display of guts and resilience to inflict the first defeat of Golovkin's career with a majority decision at the T-Mobile Arena.
The win wiped away months of simmering acrimony which stemmed from Alvarez's failed drug test in February, then scuppering hopes of a May rematch.
Alvarez, who fought a controversial draw with Golovkin a year ago, said he would be ready for a third instalment, possibly later this year.
"If the people want another round, I'll do it again," said Alvarez, who improved to 50-1-2.
For 12 rounds, drama finally eclipsed controversy, and the two fighters exchanged blow after blow, each man desperate to win on his own terms this time.
While the final three minutes were close, two of the three judges gave the final round to Alvarez (115-113, 115-113, 114-114), all that was needed to avoid another draw.
Although statistics afterwards showed Golovkin had thrown more punches, it was Alvarez who landed more consistently, outscoring his rival 143-116 in power punches.
With his narrow win, the 28-year-old became the new unified title holder, as he took ownership of the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council middleweight championship belts.
Golovkin (38-1-1) saw his streak of successful title defences halted at 20, leaving him tied with Bernard Hopkins for the middleweight record.
"I am a great fighter, and I showed it tonight. We knew the best way to beat him was to make him go backwards," Alvarez said.
"It was my plan from the beginning. At first I aimed for the knockout, I didn't. I'm satisfied with the way we did it today."
The 36-year-old Golovkin, who needed eight stitches in a cut above his right eye, insisted he did not feel under pressure during 12 punishing rounds despite his loss.
"I felt very comfortable," the Kazakhstani said. "I think we controlled the fight."
His trainer Abel Sanchez admitted that he hoped to see a third meeting between the duo.
"Canelo is a champion today, he deserves it, he fought a great fight," Sanchez said. "It's obvious these two guys can make great fights. Hopefully there'll be a third fight."
An array of movie and sports stars were among a crowd of 21,965, with LeBron James rubbing shoulders with actors such as Denzel Washington and Will Smith.
Since Floyd Mayweather's retirement, boxing has been a sport without a transcendent superstar.
But, in 12 exciting rounds, Alvarez made a compelling case that despite recent controversies, he's a worthy torchbearer-in-waiting.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST