Boxing regaled us recently with 2 of its biggest fights for the year. First, there was the flamboyant Floyd Mayweather tangling with MMA’s poster boy, Conor McGregor. And this would be followed closely by the more technically proficient Gennady Golovkin – Canelo Alvarez clash of giants.
As expected, the Mayweather-McGregor fight turned into a big circus, with more noise, more excitement, more drama produced before the first-round bell sounded. Soon as their gloves touched, all illusions of a slam-bang fistfight vanished. What did you expect? The match featured a guy sporting an enviable, spotless no-loss record tangling with a guy who had a preposterous, pathetic no-win record in boxing!
The outcome was not only predictable, it was at times comical. The wily Money May allowed an amateurish McG a few ho-hum rounds of hapless, futile chasing and grabbing. McG threw punch after wild punch, alternately hitting air or glove or arm cover. McG would unleash his arsenal of bombs – what pitifully little he had – during the early rounds, hoping to get one good hit at the slick Money May. He even generated some hilarious moments as he tried pounding his fists MMA-style on Money May’s head a couple of times. Alas, all to no avail. At the end of the 3rd round, he could be seen huffing and puffing in his corner; clearly outmatched, utterly outwitted, ignobly confused. McG sat sorrily on his stool, shoulder slouched, breathing heavily, stripped of all pretenses of being an above-average boxer.
By the 5th round, the barrage of artillery fires had shifted. Money May’s occasional swipes were now hitting the mark, while McG’s blasts were starting to sputter. As McG’s arms got heavier in the next rounds, May made McG’s head look like a marksman’s target paper, hitting the bull’s eye a million times.
To McG’s credit, he was willing to wade in for more punishment, just for a chinaman’s chance to score a knockout punch. But it was Money May’s powder-puff paws dominating McG’s often-silly, often-crude, downright futile haymaker attempts.
By the end of the ninth round, the writing was clearly on the wall. Referee Robert Byrd thankfully put a stop to the one-sided spectacle at the 1-minute mark of the 10th round.
The last time Floyd scored a stoppage was when he sucker-punched Victor Ortiz way back in 2011. (And this was clearly a controversial KO.) That he beat up McG by TKO was not in anyway a confirmation of his punching prowess; rather, it was more indicative of McG’s utter lack of boxing skills. Floyd couldn’t put the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Marcos Maidana (twice) or Canelo Alvarez down the canvas. But with McG?
With McG, he was very comfortable going on the offense by the latter rounds. It was like pitting a 6th grader against a professor; a trainee against a veteran; a year-old pup against the big bad wolf. Clearly, it was a simple ‘money fight’ pitting arguably the best boxer in the world against an unqualified, inadequate, but gutsy warrior.
The Gennady Golovkin – Canelo Alvarez fight, billed as ‘Supremacy’, was professional boxing’s supposed superfight of the year. That it was overshadowed in the media by the Mayweather – McGregor circus does not diminish the quality and the intensity of the fight.
Here we had 2 of the world’s best-known and most prolific active boxers; one undefeated, the other with a single blemish on his similarly spectacular record. The exciting Golovkin from Kazakhstan, Triple G for short, came in with a spotless 39 win, no-loss record; 33 by knockout. The fan-favorite Alvarez from Mexico, fair-haired Canelo to his adoring minions, sported a 49-win, 1-loss, 1-draw record, with 34 smashing knockouts to his credit. Both champions in their own right, this fight was for the middleweight title of the world.
This was a throwback fight, reminiscent of the days when the best middleweights fought the best. Sugar Ray Leonard vs Marvin Hagler. Hagler vs Thomas Hearns. Hearns against Roberto Duran. Duran against Leonard. Those were the golden days of boxing, when gladiators were just so willing to give their all in the boxing arena.
The Triple G – Canelo was a classic, with both fighters producing quality offense and defense, giving boxing fans all over the world a professional treat that lasted all of 12 rounds. With both fighters on top of their games, fans oohed and aahed as the tide of battle swung from one to the other. To the very end, fans were treated to a high-quality exchange worthier than the Mayweather-McGregor misadventure.
And then the cookie crumbled.
While most boxing afficionados saw it a close win by Triple G, or at worst a hard-fought draw, Judge Adalaide Byrd saw it a preposterous 118-110 win by Alvarez. Her ridiculous scoring was widely criticized, and fans clamored for an investigation on the matter.
Boxing had mercifully survived the scare of the MMA onslaught with Mayweather teaching McGregor valuable lessons in retribution. Boxing had once again scored big with the production of the Golovkin-Alvarez fight. This time however, boxing would suffer another black eye, and a step backward, with the spotty scoring which only leads more fans to conclude that boxing’s top fights are perhaps doctored.
Canelo Alvarez is considered boxing’s poster boy today. Some people must think that boxing cannot afford to have him lose. But truth to tell, the bout – supposed to herald the return of topnotch boxing to the world – only left a bad taste in the mouth with Byrd’s lousy judging. Even an 8th-grader could have scored that match much better.
This was probably the best match of the year. That they deserve a rematch is a no-brainer. But to say that a judge scored it by a lopsided 118-110 rout, when most officials would see it otherwise, clearly casts doubts on the integrity not just of the judge in question, but the sport itself. And that is precisely what scares fans away from this wonderful sport.