Judges and the scoring of a boxing match have long since been an area for debate, long before social media came into being. The problem with the introduction of platforms such as Twitter, is that they permit anyone to add insults and vitriol to their opinions. I’ve quickly learned that you’ll never get everyone to agree with you about boxing. Even when voicing what I believe to a reasonable viewpoint, someone will always find a counterpoint or introduce another perspective. I’ve got no problem with this. In fact, I enjoy engaging in debates with total strangers and trying to squeeze attempted eloquence into 140 characters (as frustrating as this can be). What I don’t enjoy is the ever growing culture that anyone who disagrees doesn’t know anything and is a [insert expletive here].
The same is true about judging. As the scores came in for GGG-Canelo last week, you knew exactly what storm was brewing. 115-113 Golovkin – fair enough, 114-114 – generous to Canelo but not inconceivable, 118-110 Canelo – complete and utter meltdown of the internet! If you had a bingo card for the vocabulary whizzing around social media you’d have hoped it contained ‘ROBBERY!’, ‘CORRUPTION’, ‘RUINING THE SPORT’, ‘SHOT ITSELF IN THE FOOT!’ among many other expletive laden rants.
The same was true on the multiple podcasts released not long after. I only listen to a few, and most of them shared the same view. Adelaide Byrd should be struck off and never allowed to judge so much as a pie eating contest ever again. One brought a slightly more reasonable thought process to proceedings. Terry Chapendama (@the7wolves on Twitter) calmly, for him, noted that all 3 judges agreed on 6 separate rounds. So the officials all scored half of the fight 5-1 in Alavarez’ favour. This means that for Golovkin to win, he had to get the nod in all of the remaining stanzas. And he did so on one of the cards. The other gave him 5, resulting in the draw.
Obviously Byrd scored 5 for Canelo which goes against the grain. Most people seem to agree that the fight was competitive so it couldn’t possibly have been a 118-110…
This is where my mind boggles. If you clearly scored rounds for Golovkin then obviously you’ll disagree with my logic. I feel at this point I need to admit that I did score the bout in favour of Golovkin too. What I’m saying is that many of the rounds could be viewed as competitive and close. When watching boxing, I always find it hard to isolate rounds unless I’m actively scoring it. It’s much easier to watch a bout, enjoy it and give a general idea of who has done well over the distance. This isn’t how they are officially judged. In theory, you could have a highly competitive, close 12 rounds of boxing and still score it 120-109, depending on how you mark each individual round.
We, at BBB, have both been ringside at bouts where we’ve disagreed on scorecards while sitting literally next to each other. We’ve had others from a different side of the ring agree and disagree entirely. Some landing shots are obscured. Some appear more damaging than they are. I imagine everyone reading this has watched a live event either on TV or in the arena. If so, you’ll have heard the cliches about how scoring is ‘subjective’ and it’s a case of ‘what you like’, yes I’m looking at you Adam Smith. The most infuriating aspect of this language is that it’s true. How is it fair though? Adelaide Byrd (just one recent example) defended her scorecard by stating what she looks for in a boxer. So because she prefers defensive boxing, one of the combatants is at a disadvantage. By pressing the action and looking to be the aggressor, Kazakhstan’s Golovkin was automatically less likely to be successful in her eyes. Even if he and his team felt that was the best tactic on the night.
On the other side, 2 of the 3 judges obviously favoured the aggressor as Joseph Parker retained his WBO heavyweight strap last night. The challenger, Hughie Fury, boxed and moved and seemingly did enough to win in the eyes of a large proportion of the viewers. While comparisons to Ali are far fetched, Fury obviously boxed to a game plan that he and his trainer (and father) felt was their best chance of winning. If Byrd was judging she’d have given him the win according to her criteria. Yet those actually deciding the outcome last night clearly prefer a boxer coming forward and pressing the action. Boxers have enough to battle against without worrying about who specifically is scoring their work.
Now is the point where I’d love to say how unfair the current system is and I have the ultimate solution. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to rectify what is clearly a major issue. I don’t believe it is entirely corrupt or incompetent judges that are impacting what seems like most big bouts. If Byrd had been paid off to ensure a Canelo win, surely she would’ve been less blatant. A 115-113 card for example would’ve gone relatively under the radar and attracted little attention, in comparison.
And for the judges to be incompetent, they’d have to be failing to meet set criteria and standards. As it is, they’re openly allowed to operate within their own parameters and that is the problem.