With the 118-110 score submitted for Canelo-Golovkin by judge Adalaide Byrd a few weeks ago, it’s been open season on boxing officials. As someone who has found fault with some recent scorecards tabulated by a select few during the past year, I can see why. I disagreed with the decision in the first Gonzalez-Rungvisai bout that went to Rungvisai and the decision rendered in the first Ward-Kovalev bout favoring Ward. Sure, a fight between two world class fighters can be close but that doesn’t necessarily mean there wasn’t a conclusive winner.
Sometimes fighters use a close scorecard that went against them as a testament to suggest they were robbed by the judges. Others use a stoppage loss in which they were on their feet when the fight ended as an excuse for their loss – claiming they weren’t hurt or in as much trouble as the referee thought they were. The latest fighter to adopt the latter is Conor McGregor. The MMA fighter turned boxer was stopped in the 10th round when referee Robert Byrd halted his bout with Floyd Mayweather this past August. At the time of the stoppage McGregor was still on his feet.
“The referee was a weird one now the more I look back on it,” McGregor said. “Especially after Adalaide Bird had that thing with the Canelo and GGG fight that was her. Adalaide and Robert Byrd are husband and wife, that’s a bit weird, that’s when I started looking back on the fight.”
Leave it to McGregor to never let an opportunity slip by without taking a cheap shot, looking to make fans forget about how hurt and defenseless he was after getting caught by Mayweather on Floyd’s worst night and least impressive showing of his career. Sure, align Robert Byrd with his wife’s terrible scorecard in a fight that took place three weeks later, as if one has something to do with the other. This is one time in which an official shouldn’t be excoriated.
“I thought it was an early stoppage. How the f*** can you stop a fight if there were no knockdowns or nothing previous? The round before that I almost had him dropped. I hurt him to the body in the round before. How the f*** can you stop it like that at the first sign of a wobble? You’ve got to let these fights go on,” McGregor told interviewer Caroline Pearce.
If Conor thinks he had Floyd hurt from a body shot at any time during the fight, his recollection is distorted. Moreover, Conor was hurt beyond a wobble in the closing seconds of the fight.
McGregor may have what’s considered a good chin in MMA, but as a boxer, not so much and that’s being generous. And that also applies to his “brick hands” and punching power, qualities ascribed to him by some MMA observers and fans. McGregor out-weighed an old, under-trained and rusty Mayweather by close to 25 pounds, but never once hurt him. Conversely, every time Mayweather hit McGregor clean with his right hand, Conor was either hurt or tried to clinch and hold.
No one has really touched on this, but Conor McGregor should get on his hands and knees thanking Robert Byrd for stopping the fight at the exact moment he did as it saved McGregor a year’s worth of embarrassment and preserved his marketability and earning potential. McGregor, who trades on marketing himself as a tough guy, was spared from being counted out and photographed on the canvas with Mayweather looking down at him.
At the time of the stoppage, McGregor was completely helpless and on unsteady legs. Mayweather was about to line him up for a few big right hands that would have no doubt dropped him and finished him off. If by chance he beat the 10-count and was allowed to continue (which is quite a reach), he may have been badly injured.
Instead of having pictures of himself plastered all over the Internet on the canvas, looking devastated, which would have been the case had Robert Byrd let the fight continue, he can cry he wasn’t hurt and the referee stopped the fight prematurely, as he’s been doing since the day after the fight. Can you imagine the memes and pictures that would be circulating today with McGregor on the canvas, looking like the ultimate loser? Mayweather’s fans, who usually don’t have the luxury of posting pics of Floyd’s opponents down or being counted out, would have had a field day….not to mention the magazine covers and pictures of McGregor down that wouldn’t fade away like things do on the Internet and social media.
Had McGregor gone down against Mayweather, it would’ve really separated them as fighters that night. Instead, by sparing Conor from being dropped and possibly counted out, Byrd, in a way, gave the false impression that they were near equals and that McGregor was more competitive than he was. And that goes a long way perception-wise in enhancing McGregor’s brand, especially in the mind of those who didn’t see the bout.
Granted, boxing officials haven’t had a great year. But Conor McGregor is the last fighter in the world who should have a complaint with referee Robert Byrd. When his bout with Mayweather was stopped with two minutes left in the 10th round, Conor was a beaten, tired and completely dejected fighter who had nothing left to hold Mayweather off. He was within a clean punch or two from being dropped and stopped and ultimately humiliated. Mayweather was still fresh and in complete control and on the verge of unloading on McGregor like an alley cat would on a church mouse.
Robert Byrd did McGregor a big favor by stopping it when he did as Mayweather, realizing the peril McGregor was in, may have toyed with him and mocked him unmercifully before deciding to end the fight. Either way, Byrd helped McGregor save face and afforded him the luxury to further promote his brand as a badass by bragging that in his boxing debut he was never off his feet against the best pound-for-pound boxer of the era.
Admonishing Byrd because of the terrible scoring of Byrd’s wife in the Canelo-Golovkin fight is a cheap shot. McGregor should thank him for perpetuating the myth that he gave Mayweather a tough fight, thereby allowing the Conor McGregor show to continue. Had Byrd not stepped in and saved him from a knockout, his stardom wouldn’t be what it is today!
Photo credit: Esther Lin / Showtime
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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