During the early days of the gloved era and probably before, managers and promoters would slip reporters money or buy them dinners and drinks – with a wink and a smile — to get their fighters some needed positive publicity. Today things are too regulated to go that route, although it seems some writers give certain fighters, for one reason or another, more glowing praise than they warrant. Regardless, every boxing insider knows who wields the power and what it takes to get on their good side. The judges who worked the Canelo-Golovkin bout this past weekend knew that it was better for boxing if Canelo won, or at least didn’t lose.
It’s more than a coincidence, as I see it, that Stanley Christodoulou scored Canelo’s fight with Austin Trout 118-109, that C.J. Ross scored his fight with Floyd Mayweather 114-114, that Levi Martinez scored his bout with Erislandy Lara 117-111, and that Dave Moretti scored his highly anticipated meeting with Miguel Cotto 119-109. This highlights how institutional this kind of scoring is.
Canelo is the biggest cash cow in boxing right now. A judge who works his bout is at the top of the food chain for a judge and most likely gets paid the most.
Adalaide Byrd scored the Canelo-Golovkin bout in favor of Canelo 118-110 or 10-2 in rounds. The other judges saw it 115-113 Golovkin and 114-114. Among those in attendance who were surveyed after the bout, the only ones with scores favoring Canelo were his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, and Bernard Hopkins, who has a financial stake and executive position in Oscar’s company, Golden Boy Promotions. They both had it 115-113 or 7-5 in rounds for Canelo, which sways me to believe that they actually thought that their fighter lost. Giving Canelo the benefit of doubt in the close rounds, as one would expect from them, is how they got to 115-113 to save face.
From the moment the 118-110 score was read, fans and insiders have excoriated Adalaide Byrd, calling her either corrupt or inept. I’m not going there, but I do think there’s a reason as to why her card looked as if it were tabulated before the bout.
I think it’s plausible that Byrd was biased and perhaps had an agenda. I have no doubt she knew that Canelo winning was better for the business of boxing and perhaps better for her. This led her to score every round in which there wasn’t a dominant winner for Canelo. She obviously didn’t intend to score it so decidedly in Canelo’s favor but in the end she was tripped up by the circumstance of the fight. She got caught in a bind and had no way out…and here’s how that may have unfolded.
If I were scoring the bout and wanted a certain fighter to come out ahead, in this case Canelo, I would score every close round for him until I had eight rounds banked in his column. The fight had many close rounds. Golovkin, due to his pressure and work-rate, won them, but it’s not like he put a huge gap between he and Canelo. Even in the rounds that Golovkin clearly won, Canelo had good moments so it wasn’t as if he was shellacked for three minutes. Once I had eight rounds in Canelo’s column, and could see by the flow of the fight that it was competitive, I’d start scoring for Golovkin to make it closer and less obvious. And the reason I’d start after scoring eight rounds for Canelo is because it would leave a little room to nullify a 10-8 round if GGG dropped him down the stretch.
After 10 rounds Byrd had Canelo up 8-2 in rounds, meaning that short of a stoppage or Canelo going down a few times (something he was never close to doing through the first 10 rounds), the right fighter would net the decision. Also, with Canelo’s history of tiring late in his fights, it’s plausible Golovkin might come on and win the last two rounds soundly, in which case my card would read 116-112 Canelo. Sure I might get some heat for it but it’s not like I could be called inept, just maybe favoring a particular fighter’s style.
Here’s where the whole thing blew up and put Byrd in a bind. Unexpectedly, it was Golovkin that tired in the final two rounds, not Canelo. The 11th and 12th rounds were the two best rounds of the fight for Canelo and there was no way she couldn’t award them to him. How would it look that you scored the eighth and ninth rounds for Canelo — rounds in which the consensus was he lost – and yet scored his two best rounds for Golovkin? The answer is you can’t as that would’ve made it look even more underhanded — so Byrd was in a real catch-22 being that she never anticipated after Canelo looked defeated and tired during patches of the bout that he’d fight with so much urgency in the final two rounds.
I’m not calling anyone crooked or on the take, but human beings can be biased with an agenda. Judge Byrd has been scoring fights too long to not know what’s going on when two fighters battle in the ring. It’s very plausible she had an agenda and submitting a final tabulation for Canelo in the biggest fight of his career could only help her down the road for the next big fight. The problem was that once she had the fight won on her card for Canelo, he actually started winning rounds legitimately and her want to balance the scorecard couldn’t be realized. And that’s how she arrived at 118-110. The 11th and 12th rounds threw her a monkey wrench and she had no choice but to live with it. Had she scored the last two rounds for Golovkin to even things out, it would’ve looked even worse.
Had there been a case for Golovkin winning the final two rounds, her 116-112 score for Canelo would still be out of line, but with so many looking to find an avenue that led to Canelo winning, the controversy wouldn’t look so bad and the fallout would have been over within a week.
Other than Adalaide Byrd being given a respite from working again, nothing else will change. There will be no reform pertaining to who gets to judge boxing matches, and — as it has always been — the fighters who generate the most money and are seen as superstars will continue to have the edge when their fights are close and go to the scorecards.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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