He rolled the dice with his surprise strategy of pushing Golovkin back, pressing the action and boxing on the front foot for the vast majority of the contest.
Saul "Canelo" Álvarez says he is open to the idea of a third fight against Gennady Golovkin after taking a points decision - and the Kazakh's WBC and WBA middleweight titles - in a thrilling bout in Las Vegas last night.
Triple G was disappointed again, with two judges scoring the fight 115-113 in favour of Canelo and the third had it at 114-114. The AP scored it 114-114.
With his reputation on the line and his career at an interesting crossroads in the eyes of many, the 28-year-old Alvarez put forth the performance of his lifetime on a night - later called "one of the greatest days of my life" by Alvarez - that anything less would have rendered defeat.
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"He's a great fighter but I'm a great fighter and I showed it tonight", Alvarez said. Originally, the pair fought a year ago in September in Las Vegas.
The weigh-in on Friday was rather heated, with Alvarez attempting to headbutt Golovkin before the pair were restrained by their respective trainers.
Those sessions were very close and simply based on what you like, with the CompuBox stats making interesting reading.
Khan was impressed by the quality of the fight and lauded Canelo for his gameplan.
Canelo stayed on his bike the first time around but this time fought fire-with-fire, planted his feet and stood his ground.
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For the Kazakh Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), a first defeat in a long and storied career was hard to take and he trudged back to his dressing room without speaking to the press in the ring.
"Canelo did what he said he was going to do", Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler said.
"It was I who pushed [Golovkin] back, it was I who was most aggressive", Alvarez said.
"If the people want another round, I'll do it again", said Alvarez, who improves to 50-1-2.
Former world heavyweight champion George Foreman: "Canelo Brave as a Bull! We saw the best way to defeat him was to force him to fight backwards".
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He fought valiantly in the 12th round, opening with a big right uppercut, and then kept firing until the closing bell. And it came at the hands of the red-headed Alvarez, a Mexican star whose positive test for clenbuterol forced the rematch to be postponed from May.