Box

The Corruption of Boxing

Last night, the biggest fight in boxing took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The match-up, one that many anticipated, provided fans with the opportunity to see arguably the best two pound-for-pound fighters in the sport square off to determine a unified middleweight champion. Undoubtedly, Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was the latest addition to a banner year for boxing, a year that proved that the once stagnant sport can generate a buzz among the main stream public when bouts are made that fans want to watch.

In fact, this year might be the first in past decade that boxing is definitively ahead of mixed martial arts with the amount of anticipated bout delivered. Not surprisingly, the surge in popularity of mixed martial arts, and more specifically when the UFC took a considerable piece of the pay-per-view pie with names like Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, and others, was what prompted boxing promoters to make an organized effort to rejuvenate the sport. As is always the case, when money was left on the table, suddenly management was able to get fights signed. Along with that, the Premier Boxing Championship series, an experiment that yielded mixed results thus far, was at least an attempt to give some names more main stream exposure. Perhaps the most direct exposure to the general public was the recent trio of fights that aired on ESPN, including the dramatic Manny Pacquiao/Jeff Horn fight, a contest that generated an average of 3.1 million viewers for the network. With an increase in sports coverage from nearly every media outlet, ESPN had a well-documented dip in viewership, and a much-criticized mass layoff of many employees. The network needed the ratings and boxing needed the exposure so it was a win-win for everyone.

The pair of thrilling Kovalev-Ward bouts, the heavyweight slug fest of Jousha/Kiltchkso, and another Deontay Wilder KO all made headlines within the genre. So, why did boxing repeat the same mistake that hindered its progress for decades?

Canelo, the 27-year-old protegé, is arguably the most popular fighter in the sport, bringing with him the dedicated Latino fan base. Ironically, his opponent Saturday night, is also extremely popular with the Hispanic fans because of his Mexican-influenced style by trainer Abel Sanchez. While Alvarez might be the most technically skilled in boxing, many consider Triple G the most dangerous fighter in the sport today. The two athletes went back and forth over the course of twelve solid rounds, a path that saw the narrative of the bout shift on more than one occasion. Quite simply, this was an entertaining prize-fight that is a prime example of the display in the ring when the top two competitors sign for a contest.

Golovkin used his trademark jab often while Alvarez landed counter punches. As the bout progressed, Triple G displayed his iron chin, walking through Canelo’s punches and pressuring the younger athlete. The native of Kazakhstan won the majority of the rounds in the middle of the contest with a constant series of combinations. In the latter stages, Alvarez’s corner wisely told him that he needed the last three rounds to keep it close on the score cards. The Mexican superstar surged toward the conclusion of the bout, fighting with a sense of purpose in the final rounds. Clearly, he acknowledged that he might’ve been behind on the cards. The dramatic final bell saw the fighters embrace in a show of respect, and viewers anticipated the decision.

So, how exactly did this contest become so tainted?

In truth, I had the fight scored a draw because of Alvarez’s ability to probably secure the last three rounds. Still, it’s very logical to see a two or three round difference depending on prospective. Official judge Don Trella scored it 114-114, a total that I obviously agree with because I calculated the same score as I watched the live fight. Dave Moretti had it 115-113 for Golovkin. Again, as I said, that is a completely possible score, especially depending on the view of effective punching, effective aggression, etc. Somehow, Adalaide Byrd saw it 118-110 for Alvarez, which translates to awarding Golovkin just two rounds.

HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?! WHAT FIGHT DID ADALAIDE BYRD ACTUALLY WATCH?!

If she had awarded the contest to Canelo by anywhere close to a logical margin then this draw doesn’t affect the conversation about a great fight. However, instead of discussing the classic prize-fight that Triple G and Alvarez had on Saturday night, the narrative is strictly about the corrupt judging in boxing. In many ways, Adalaide Byrd ruined the perception of this fight and took the focus away from the tremendous effort that both competitors showed in the ring. Once again, just as in many years in the past, the discussion of boxing is around the same corruption that plagued the sport for decades. Despite the great fights this year, the biggest spotlight on the sport will focus on one judge’s illogical score card.

Adaladie Byrd should never judge a professional fight of any importance ever again, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if she’s sitting ringside to total the score cards for the rematch next year because those are the politics of boxing. Six-division world champion Oscar De La Hoya founded Golden Boy Promotions in 2002 and he is the promoter for Saul Alvarez. Canelo is the promotional organization’s top star, earning the company major cash on his way to become the most popular Mexican fighter in boxing, a spot previously held by De La Hoya himself. Make no mistake, Golden Boy Promotions wants to protect the golden goose. Oscar promoted the Canelo/Triple G fight, which would appear to be a conflict since he has a literal vested interest in one of the competitors, but it’s business as usual for boxing.

It’s ironic that De La Hoya, a gold medalist in the 1992 Olympics, called the Mayweather/McGregor spectacle last month a disgrace to boxing, because you can bet that he will gleefully promote the Canelo/Triple G rematch and justify the corrupt score card to sell another pay-per-view card. Let’s be honest here, De La Hoya’s complaints had nothing to do with the integrity of boxing, but rather his concern that the UFC star’s boxing debut just a few weeks before a Golden Boy card would take a piece of the pay-per-view pie. If Oscar had a chance to make some cash from Mayweather vs. McGregor, his opinion would be very different. The reality is, Triple G/Canelo was going to sell to boxing fans because it was the bout with substance, not just sizzle. At the same time, Mayweather and McGregor made the right business decision and put an entertainment spectacle on pay-per-view that made money for everyone involved.

Perhaps Oscar should make sure his own cards are legitimate before he criticizes someone’s venture. You can’t blame Alvarez for this either, he fought a very dangerous opponent, and he didn’t score the fight. The bottom line is, during a year when it looked as though boxing was going to rebuild itself, the corruption that has always played a role made headlines again. It’s very disappointing that instead of the discussion of Canleo and Triple G’s action packed fight, the headlines are about Adalaide Byrd’s corrupt score card.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta

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