By Frank Warren
THE BOXING NAYSAYERS had their customary field day in the media on Monday, aiming their well worn slings and arrows in the direction of the sport because a ringside judge got a big call horribly wrong.
To my mind – and probably that of most boxing people, although not all – Gennady Golovkin won the night against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas.
Adalaide Byrd saw it differently and scored ten of the rounds to Canelo, leading to cries of corruption being levelled against boxing.
It wasn’t corruption, it was at best just terrible scoring, the same as in London where one judge deemed Billy Joe Saunders to have won by just a single round against Willie Monroe jr.
I don’t think for one minute that Mrs Byrd is, for want of a better word, bent. It is a question of her competence. On occasions judges do seem to lean towards the house fighters and you could make a comparison with home advantage in football, where the away teams often seem to get the short end of the stick with decisions when they visit grounds such as Old Trafford to play Manchester United.
It is a great frustration that a great fight like Golovkin-Canelo is being overshadowed by ridiculous scoring from one of the officials. Let’s not get into the judge who made it a draw!
You might say it is typical of boxing to shoot itself in the foot, but that doesn’t make it corrupt.
The commission in Las Vegas insist on appointing the officials and I would assume when the fight was made both camps had a pool of judges to select from, with three to be mutually agreed upon. If that didn’t happen I would be very surprised.
The suggestion that the scoring was contrived to bring about a rematch is stupid and a complete non-starter. It is the quality of the fight and the money generated which dictates that – and both were high.
If this was all a grand plan designed to favour the Mexican, then it wasn’t really thought through because the boxer now left without a world title to his name is Canelo.
I don’t know if there was a rematch clause in place in the event of a draw, but the strength now lies with Golovkin because Canelo now operates at middleweight and doesn’t have a belt.
The only belts available are via a rematch or a fight with Billy Joe Saunders. There is nowhere else to go for a world title and having a belt is quite important at that level.
The unfortunate truth is that bad decisions occur in all sports where there is scope for human error.
What we don’t get in boxing, bearing in mind the scrutiny, are people being arrested and charged for various forms of wrongdoing such as fight fixing.
Can the same be said of our national sports of football and cricket?
I was at Lord’s in 2010 to see England play Pakistan when this old fella came up to me and said ‘oh you’re that boxing chap, aren’t you? I don’t go anymore since Henry Cooper, it is all bent now’.
I wish I had bumped into him a couple of months later when the spot-fixing scandal broke.
So many sports such as horse racing, tennis and many others, have had to contend with corruption, but never has anyone in British boxing been accused of fixing a fight in all my time in the game.
Yes, even unintentional bias or favouritism is a blight on the sport because judges are supposed to be completely neutral, but I do not believe Byrd is guilty of anything other than incompetent rank bad scoring.
It has detracted from what should have been our sport’s crowning glory and it is a great shame.
Even coming into this week with Parker-Fury, you’ve got the New Zealanders complaining about some of the officials being British, so I just don’t know where we go with this. There will always be complaints about officials, so you can only hope they will be seen to be fair and just. But you will always get controversies because people don’t always see things the same way.
Nobody saw things the same way as Mrs Byrd, but the whole sport should not be tarnished by the misjudgement of one person.
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