LAS VEGAS, Nevada, September 16, 2017 – When boxing fans start talking about a rematch minutes after seeing a championship fight, it reflects a close, entertaining fight.
The middleweight championship bout between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin delivered all the action and excitement fans could have asked for, leaving 22,358 people in the sold-out T-Mobile Arena cheering and on their feet at the final bell.
After 12 rounds of a fight the majority saw going to Golovkin, the judges’ scores sent a shockwave through the building. Adelaide Byrd scored it 118-110 for Alvarez; while Dave Moretti had it 115-113 for Golovkin; and Don Trella ruled it 114-114 for a draw. Horrified booing rained down from every seat. Despite the crowd being a pro-Canelo Alvarez crowd, they are also fair fans and recognized the outrage for what it was.
Nevertheless, Alvarez thought he won. “I thought I won the fight. I was superior inside the ring. I won at least seven, eight of the rounds. I was able to counterpunch and even make Gennady Golovkin wobble a couple of times.”
Numbers aren’t everything but numbers do help flesh out the story. Golovkin landed 218 total punches to Alvarez’ 169 total punches. While they were nearly even in power punches (114 for Golovkin to 110 for Alvarez), Golovkin landed double the jabs, 108 to 55. The jab controlled the fight and it should have won Golovkin the fight, as it has in previous bouts. (See Lemieux, David).
“I saw the computer’s total punches, I saw the fans’ reaction. This is terrible, this is not good for boxing,” said Golovkin.
HBO Boxing will replay the full fight on Saturday, September 23, at 10 p.m. ET and will also be available via HBO Go and HBO On Demand.
Alvarez suffers more from a questionable outcome like this than an honorable loss. It was a close contest, and Alvarez was never out of it. He contributed equally to an exciting, entertaining 12 rounds with give and take that flew by. But to be gifted this outcome when he didn’t deserve brings him dishonor.
Golovkin’s record remains undefeated at 37-0-1 with 34 knockouts. He still remains the WBC, WBA, IBF, and IBO unified middleweight champion. Alvarez is 49-0-3 with 34 knockouts. His only recorded loss came to Floyd Mayweather.
And as Golovkin pointed out after the fight, “Look I still have all the belts, I’m still the champion.”
It was a fight boxing sorely needed as a palate cleanser from the exhibition contest in the same T-Mobile Arena two weeks ago. Both Golovkin and Canelo are purists when it comes to taking their sport seriously. They deliver pure boxing skills, technique, and heart, sometimes in similar ways. This is what caused fans to be so enthusiastic about the fight.
Golovkin, age 35, a native of Kazakhstan now relocated to Los Angeles, started the fight deploying his signature jab. It won him the first round, but as Alvarez, age 27 from Guadalajara, Mexico adjusted, he started landing body shots to Golovkin. After three rounds, all three judges had Alvarez ahead 2-1 or 3-0.
This is where most people began to part company with the judges. Golovkin began to close the distance to Alvarez and started getting a little rougher behind his jab. Through the middle rounds, Golovkin was winning by boxing, controlling the ring, and moving Alvarez backward. Alvarez has superb upper body movement and it allowed him to avoid being hit hard several times. But this also saps your energy when forced to keep it up round after round.
In the fifth round, a firefight broke out. Golovkin and Alvarez both shook their heads at each other after being hit; at times, Golovkin seemed to be smiling, relishing the excitement and the action. Canelo never broke his expression.
By round seven, the fight had turned Golovkin’s way. After six rounds focusing on boxing skills, he stepped on the gas. He was directing the action, and his body language said it all. It was fun for him. Alvarez was still a live dog, and he continued to avoid the worst Triple G tried to dish out.
Canelo seemed to tire by the ninth round. At times he had a dismayed look on his face, but there is no giving up in the Mexican star. He went for broke in round 10, and it appeared he rocked Golovkin. Instead of playing it safe, Golovkin fired back and the fans went wild. This was the fight they all had in their imagination.
In the 11th round, Golovkin returned to the jab, which served him so well all night. He swung the round in his favor. With three minutes left, Alvarez must have believed he was behind, and gave it everything he had left. He hit GGG hard early in the round. This was no time for Golovkin to throw caution to the wind, but he is a showman and he didn’t clench or back down. The fight ended with every fan in the T-Mobile Arena on his or her feet.
Then… everyone heard the scores. Balloon, meet pin. There should have been one man standing with his hand raised at the end of the evening. Even the partisan Canelo Alvarez fans could agree, it should have been Golovkin.
“This is terrible for sport, for boxing. These judges, this is unbelievable,” said Golovkin after the fight.
His trainer, Abel Sanchez, said he was concerned from the moment he saw the judges assigned. He suggested Adelaide Byrd, who rendered the 118-110 score, “filled out her scorecard before she came to the fight,” and hopes she is investigated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“A lot of people aren’t understading 118-110, like myself. Byrd is a competent judge, she’s been doing a lot of world titles for many years. But I can understand 115-113 and the draw. Personally I had it 7-5 Canelo,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya. “It’s one of the best fights we’ve seen in recent years, these guys fought their hearts out.
“I think boxing won today, it was a win-win-win for everyone. We needed a fight like this.”
“It was a terrific fight, but if the judge had scored that wide for Triple G, no one would have liked it either. Frankly, it’s not good for the sport of boxing,” said Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions. “(Golovkin’s) a champion and he’ll be happy to defend his title many more times.”
Bob Bennett of the Nevada State Athletic Commission admitted after the fight that Judge Byrd had “a bad night. “I’ll go over the fight with Adelaide round by round, she’ll have to articulate to me how she scored it. There isn’t a person here who hasn’t had a bad night. She had a bad night tonight. We train very hard here, I do a lot of background before I make my recommendation for the officials. I’m responsible for it. Adelaide had a bad night.”
The obvious question: Will there be a Canelo vs. Golovkin 2 to right this wrong?
If it’s up to Golovkin: “Of course I want a rematch, this was a real fight.” But he added after the fight it wasn’t up to him. “I’m a fighter, I’m a boxer. Second fight, it’s the same. My job is only in the ring.
Alvarez was less enthusiastic: “It’s up to the people if we fight again, I feel frustrated over this draw.”
Whatever happens in the ring, the Nevada State Athletic Commission needs to have a serious discussion about scoring and how judges are trained and disciplined. There is not an individual who watched the fight and scored it as Adelaide Byrd did, even if they believe Alvarez narrowly won. This hurts boxing and hurts the fans, more than any loss to a favorite fighter.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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