x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Alvarez v Golovkin draw the right outcome, but one ringside judge has turned boxing back into a laughing stock

Just when we thought the circus had left town, Adalaide Byrd happened

When the sport of boxing was crying out for credibility to be restored, who better than the sport's two best to do just that?

The pre-fight hype promised us the real thing, and boy did we get it. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez v "GGG" Gennady Golovkin, the two best boxers in the world battling for the latter's IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight belts, put the sugar back in the sweet science with a 12-round slobber-knocker that resulted in a split draw. They remain the two best boxers in the world.

Last month's match-up between Floyd Mayweather, the greatest boxer in a generation, against a master of the mixed martial arts but a complete novice when it comes to the Queensbury Rules in Conor McGregor, still leaves a sour taste in the mouth. An exhibition match at best designed to make two millionaires even richer. Time has a way of distorting perceptions, but in this case, even though it is still a very short space of time, the sham of the spectacle remains undiluted.

Alvarez v Golovkin was everything Mayweather v McGregor was not and everything both fighters promised it would be. It ebbed and flowed, Canelo edged the early rounds, Golovkin the middle sector and the championship rounds were back and forth, with many concluding that the pendulum had just swung back the Mexican challenger's way.

The fight went to the judges' scorecards. Dave Moretti scored the tense battle 114-114. Dan Trella saw it 115-113 for Golovkin. But just when we thought the Mayweather-McGregor circus had packed up and rolled out of town, it seems one impish clown was left behind. Adalaide Byrd had it one-sided, 118-110, for Alvarez.

For the record, The National scored the fight 114-116 in favour of the champion, Golovkin.

The first two scorecards you can argue either way. It was a close fight and, while Golovkin relentlessly pressured and stalked his prey, few punches had Alvarez's head snapping backwards.

However, Byrd's judgement that Alvarez was the winner by eight clear rounds suggests a trip to the opticians may be long overdue. Whatever fight she was watching on Saturday, it seemed a completely different one to the rest of us.

Gennady Golovkin retained his IBF, WBA, and WBC middleweight titles after a split draw with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in Las Vegas. Joe Camporeale / USA Today
Gennady Golovkin retained his IBF, WBA, and WBC middleweight titles after a split draw with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in Las Vegas. Joe Camporeale / USA Today

Byrd has history for this type of thing, renown in boxing circles for some lop-sided scorecards. She scored Alvarez's one-sided victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr with a 120-108 card. In Alvarez's sixth-round knockout of Amir Khan, she had scored it 48–47 in favour of Khan before he was brutally knocked out.

Top Rank Promotions have made clear their objections to Byrd judging their fights on at least two occasions.

It seems repressive to call someone out on their opinion, but by judging Alvarez such an overwhelming winner in such a close-fought contest merits debate. The furore over Byrd's scorecard has stolen both fighters' thunder.

As brave as Alvarez was, as slick as he looked in defence, as much as he connected with the Kazakh's now customary static head, Golovkin was able to absorb the Mexican's bombs and barely flinch.

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, right, attempts to break through Gennady Golovkin's defence. Joe Camporeale / USA Today
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, right, attempts to break through Gennady Golovkin's defence. Joe Camporeale / USA Today

By Round 4 it was obvious the smaller Alvarez did not carry the same brute force at 160Ibs as he does at light middleweight. Golovkin walked through his punches confident there was nothing in the Alvarez arsenal that would see him defeated for the first time in 38 bouts.

So why the talk should be about what a great spectacle the fight witnessed by the 22,358 in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena and the millions watching worldwide, instead it is about Byrd, a judge whose scoring of too many fights has veered too wildly from her other ringside panelists as to be farcical.

There will be a rematch - both fighters agreed straight after the decision to take up the cudgels once again - but Byrd is unlikely to have the outcome of that fight determined by her scorecard.