The War Report: Pretzel Logic (Week 37, 2017)
Four months ago – in the broken down ring of the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas – Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya gloated to the media about the fight he had just announced in the post-fight presser of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s domination of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. There was good reason for his triumph and little-to-no discussion about the fight that had just taken place because that wasn’t the story, at the end of the night. The fight everyone wanted was made official but fast-forward to the post-fight presser of last Saturday evening’s super-fight between Gennady Golovkin and Alvarez under the same setting, De La Hoya sat there looking somewhat bothered that the focus wasn’t on the fight that had just happened.
The lone score in favor of Alvarez - 118-110 by Adalaide Byrd – was the story and, like it or not, it was the conversation after a very good fight that ended in a draw (115-113 for Golovkin and 114-114 rounded out the night). The draw was a fair result, although an overwhelming majority of the media had Golovkin winning. However Byrd’s score was so out of touch, it left a bad taste in the mouths of those who follow the sport closely, and, for those who watch occasionally, it perhaps confirmed their reasoning to not religiously follow boxing in the first place.
Once looking at the scorecards closely, Byrd’s portrayal of the fight wasn’t the only mishap on this night. Judge Don Trella, who scored the fight a 114–114 draw, gave Alvarez a seventh round, in which Golovkin had one of his best three-minute span, and not even Byrd could justify Canelo winning it (one of only two rounds, she scored for “GGG,” the entire fight). Had Trella seen what everyone else saw in that seventh round, Golovkin would’ve earned a split decision win and would’ve perhaps changed the narrative a bit after the fight.
For all intents and purposes, the fight delivered. Golovkin and Alvarez had an extremely competitive squabble, in which, to put it swiftly, Alvarez started and ended the fight on a higher note, thanks to his accurate counterpunching and mindful defense, but, in the middle rounds, Golovkin sustained an offensive pace that had Canelo in retreat and often times stuck with his back to the ropes. Golovkin’s strong jab was the most consistent punch of the fight. The 35-year-old constantly led the dance by pressing forward and, for that reason, it seemed like he was the only one imposing his will. Neither man was seriously hurt in the fight but there were a few intense exchanges that had the 22,358 in attendance on the edge of their seats and, by the fight’s end, they were all on their feet for a deserved applause.
On the 36th anniversary of Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns I, Canelo-GGG wasn’t a war by any stretch, nor the best fight of the year, for that matter. However it was a contest in which connoisseurs of the Sweet Science could thoroughly enjoy a tactical chess match, while being palatable enough for the novice onlooker to enjoy. Conceivably so, even the menial moments that happen in a ring between two fighters like Alvarez and Golovkin are heightened because of their status, and that also happens in the aftermath, especially when there’s any sort of controversy.
“A lot of people are not understanding 118-110, just like myself,” said De La Hoya, at one point in the post-fight presser. “But I have to say that Byrd is a competent judge. She’s been doing lots of world title (bouts) for many years…Las Vegas is one of the best commissions in the world.”
Bob Bennett, head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, was up there on the rope-less ring for the larger part of the presser and, after already getting grilled by reporters ringside beforehand, Michael Montero, of “Montero on Boxing,” (and an ally and contemporary of UCNLive.com) put Bennett on the spot for the world to see when inquiring if anything will be done about Byrd’s steady string of bad judgments, and what process will there be going forward. Bennett said he would sit Byrd down and give the fight a second look with her but still had her back and took responsibility for his team’s call. This isn’t the first time a bad score had left a dark cloud over a good night of boxing. In fact, it’s fairly consistent over the sport’s history, and seeing how not much has been done about it up until September 16, it’s reasonable to believe mere slaps of the wrist will be the only result - because that’s just the way it’s always been. As Bennett was in a tug-o-war with Montero, De La Hoya could be seen with his hands in his pockets, looking worried about the narrative of this fight coming from the media.
“But what I am hearing – chatter and social media – I’m hearing, look, it was close fight – it was a great fight actually – because we haven’t seen this type of action in long time,” De La Hoya went on to also say, “It was a win/win/win for everyone.”
The main point he and the President of Golden Boy Promotions Eric Gomez wanted to get across to the media, in the wake of Canelo-GGG, was not to let a bad scorecard take away from what they called a tremendous fight but evidently that wasn’t the case. Maybe it was because the fight wasn’t thrilling enough to overshadow a wide scorecard of a close fight or maybe everyone is just fed up with the pretzel logic some of these judges have when scoring a prizefight. With the fight being a draw – again, not an outrageous result – a rematch is obvious to set up but, had Golovkin gotten the win, that would still be the case. With that in mind, this is the perfect opportunity to shed more light on the problems of boxing, especially when it’s momentarily under the spotlight of mainstream coverage. It would help the conversation grow and, maybe, by the end of it, new ideas would arise, with hopes of helping the imperfect process better itself. By next May, if the two do rematch immediately, there will be a closer eye on what ensues but, whatever happens or doesn’t happen, hopefully the fighters realize they have the power to take it out of the judges’ hands. Not only would those kinds of intentions make for a better fight, they would certainly perfume the stench left by the first contest.