GGG-Canelo: The Best & Worst of Boxing

On Saturday night, the middleweight title fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin illustrated the best and worst of the sport of boxing.

The fight was an instant classic and lived up to its lofty expectations. Despite speculation that he may be slipping from his prime, Gennady Golovkin put on a stellar performance. He cut off the ring and stalked Canelo for the majority of the twelve rounds, and he showed better defense than he had in his previous two bouts.

Canelo was sharp in the early rounds before giving the middle portion of the fight to Golovkin, but he came on strong in the last ten minutes of the fight. He landed crisp counters while avoiding many of GGG’s destructive blows. If it wasn’t for Golovkin’s otherworldly ability to take punishment and keep moving forward, Canelo very well may have won the fight.

But after the final bell rang, there was still one opportunity for the night to be tarnished, and that’s an opportunity that judge Adalaide Byrd took.

The fight was ruled a draw, with one judge having it even, the other for Golovkin by a slim margin, and Byrd having Canelo winning 118-110. She only gave Golovkin two rounds.

Canelo vs. Golovkin being scored a draw is not in itself an egregious injustice. Most spectators believed that Golovkin certainly did enough to win, as he dominated the middle portion of the fight and the only rounds that could be given to Canelo were effectively tossups. But given how evenly matched the two were, giving each fighter six rounds is not unreasonable.

But Byrd’s scorecard goes beyond unreasonable. Giving Golovkin two rounds implies a stunning level of incompetence. Her card was so outlandishly off from the general consensus that many fans, and even people in the industry like Teddy Atlas, are throwing around a word that isn’t new to boxing: corruption.

Following the fight, Golovkin was understandably angry with the result.

“This is terrible for the sport of boxing,” he said in the post-fight press conference. “I’m a champion, this is the biggest fight for boxing. Today, this is terrible. Unbelievable.”

For fans, the draw between Golovkin and Canelo means that a rematch is around the corner. Given how great the fight turned out to be, a second one will be even bigger and more successful.

But even if Golovkin had won, he and Canelo likely would have fought again immediately anyway. Instead, the thing that ‘GGG’ has been working his whole life for was taken from him by incompetent Las Vegas judging. Today, the storyline could be that Gennady Golovkin finally got his chance to shine on the biggest stage and he rose to the occasion. Instead, we’re talking less about the great fighters themselves and more about Adalaide Byrd.

Hopefully Golovkin will look just as sharp in the rematch against Canelo, and he and the Mexican star can put on a great show with a more definitive conclusion. If that is the case, then this unfortunate scoring will be looked back on as a bump in the road rather than a disaster. But for now, the general public that enjoyed the fight are scratching their heads, collectively wondering how boxing got it wrong yet again.

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