LAS VEGAS (AFP) - A sombre Canelo Alvarez was left wondering what more he could have done to wrest the middleweight world titles away from Gennady Golovkin after their controversial 12-round draw on Saturday in Las Vegas.
The 27-year-old Mexican star said he executed his game plan the way he wanted to, but missed his big chance when he failed to knock the champion out in the 10th round.
"I wanted to finish him off, but he was a strong opponent with lot of experience. It didn't unfold the way I wanted it too," Alvarez said.
Former two division champion Alvarez connected with a devastating punch series about 30 seconds into the round.
A rubbery-legged Golovkin then went into a defensive shell, shook the cobwebs off, and managed to stay on his feet.
It was a rare moment of vulnerability for Golovkin who has never been knocked down in his pro career and, before that, in 350 amateur fights.
Until his last two fights, which both went the distance, Golovkin had been jackhammering his way through the middleweight division.
In March, he showed he could go the distance and win over Daniel Jacobs but their 12-round fight snapped a string of 23 consecutive knockouts for Golovkin.
"I thought I won the fight," Alvarez said. "I was superior inside the ring. I won at least seven, eight rounds. I was able to counterpunch and even make Gennady wobble a couple of times.
"It is up to the people if we fight again. I felt frustrated over this draw."
Golovkin and Alvarez now look set to rule the resurgent middleweight division for years after their slugfest ended in a stalemate.
The controversy came via the judges - one of whom scored the nail-biting fight 118-110 in favour of Alvarez.
The evenly-matched fight was so close it could have gone either way. Challenger Alvarez fought well enough to win on his own but Adalaide Byrd's mind-boggling scorecard fuelled conspiracy theories on social media.
Judge Don Trella had it 114-114 while Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 in favour of Golovkin. Golovkin got his first taste of Nevada-style judging in his Sin City boxing debut, but despite the kerfuffle he still managed to keep his World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation titles.
Asked about Byrd's lopsided scorecard, which had Golovkin winning just the fourth and seventh rounds, he replied, "unbelievable".
"Of course I want a rematch. This was a real fight," Golovkin said.
So the stage is set for a Golovkin-Alvarez 2, likely sometime in the first half of 2018.