Officials must be graded to end glut of shameful decisions
They say “never leave the fight in the hands of the judges”, and with due reason. Some of the biggest fight nights have been dishonoured by incompetence, and Gennady Golovkin versus Saul “Canelo” Alvarez can now be added to that list.
There has been outrage at the judges’ scoring of the bout. It simply is not good enough when a fight of the magnitude of Golovkin-Alvarez, which will have grossed more than $100 million (£73.6 million), and was seen as one of boxing’s fights of the year, is thrown under the bus through appalling judging. There is no truth in some of the accusations being thrown around on social media that the result was fixed – in order for an even more lucrative rematch next year. It was merely another case of incompetence.
And this is not just about Adalaide Byrd. Don Trella, who returned the drawn 114-114 card, clearly made a mistake in the seventh round, awarding it to Alvarez. It was a dominant round for Golovkin. Had Trella got that round right, the Kazakh would have won by split-decision.
Yet Byrd’s card stood out as the greater travesty. Some media members did score the fight for Alvarez on Saturday night, but by narrow margins – the 118-110 score returned by Byrd requires action. Indeed, prominent boxing figures, including Lennox Lewis, Audley Harrison and respected trainer and analyst Teddy Atlas, ridiculed Byrd’s analysis of the fight.
Her skewed score for Alvarez, awarding the Mexican 10 of the 12 rounds, is close to unforgivable. In other sports, officials would be removed from the roster.
The athletic commissions in the United States are government departments, and it is time for transparency. A new system is required. One suggestion would be to compile a list of the best, most consistent judges not in the individual state – but in the country – and have a top 10 or 15 and fly them in for the major bouts. They should also be ranked, and rise and fall on that list on their work.
Both fighters going into a contest are permitted to object to judges, and there was no dispute over the trio with the cards going into this debacle. Yet there have been previous complaints about Byrd. Four years ago, another judge, CJ Ross, was struck off when she scored the Floyd Mayweather-Alvarez fight a draw. Mayweather won hands down. It was incomprehensible.
There have been calls for a similar decision on Byrd, who has faced criticism in the past, both in boxing and the MMA world. Last year, leasing executives at Top Rank protested over Byrd’s appointment for the Vasyl Lomachenko versus Nicholas Walters bout.
“We respectfully requested that Adalaide Byrd not be assigned to this fight,” Carl Moretti, Top Rank’s VP of Boxing Operations, said. “Some judges can have good nights and can have bad nights. But when she has bad nights, she seems to be too far away from the score. [Bob] Bennett [executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission] defended her left and right. He didn’t want to listen to our objection.”
After this latest farce, it is time he did. Bennett claimed that “a lot of research” is done to choose the best judges, but it matters not when that list includes judges who are not up to the job.
Boxing has had too many of these nights – three of which I have reported on in the last four years – where judging brought the sport into disrepute: this one, Manny Pacquiao v Timothy Bradley and Floyd Mayweather v Alvarez.
It should not continue. It is time for change.