By Tris Dixon
THIS column should begin with me telling you how Scotland’s Josh Taylor came of age in a huge step-up fight. I should be able to point out how he brilliantly demonstrated things he had not needed to before, how he rallied while in trouble, came through a seventh-round hurricane, took hard shots to the head and body, confronted adversity, adapted and ultimately triumphed.
Instead, I could not launch all of the verbal bouquets at Taylor that he earned because I would be neglecting the elephant (three of them, actually) in the room and not discussing the issue that caused a social media meltdown last night.
Taylor undoubtedly proved himself as one of the best in the world at 140lbs, and he did so in what will be considered among the best bouts of the year come December.
But good fights, really good fights are close. They do not conclude with scorecards of 117-110, 118-110 and 119-108. Those tallies would mean the loser had won barely a couple of rounds on two cards and none on the other. They indicate either an exhibition or a rout.
What happened at the SSE Hydra in Glasgow was far better than that. Those scorecards don’t show what Taylor proved or what he had to fight through. And they indicate that Postol may as well have downed tools and gone home after the third.
“He taught me a lot in there,” admitted Taylor via social media today, having posted a picture of the two men in a respectful post-fight handshake.
Shane McGuigan, the Scot’s trainer, said after the bout he felt Josh had won by three rounds.
That was a fair assessment.
In all the views you could witness and hear during and after a fight, I did not see one tally that matched Florida’s Fernando Barbosa (117-110), Scotland’s Victor Loughlin (118-110) and Ghana’s Eddie Pappoe (119-108).
On a Saturday night, with inebriated warriors reaching for their keyboards and experienced heads reporting from ringside, no one’s interpretation of the fight was anything other than close. Even the McGuigan’s, who one could understandably claim to be Taylor’s most partisan supporters, reckoned the totals did not do the fight justice.
“The scores were too wide,” said Barry.
The most common perception was that it was nip and tuck, perhaps even down to the wire and then, when Taylor landed a stunning howitzer blow to fell the California-based Ukrainian in round 10, you could argue that the scales tipped favourably – yet still incredibly narrowly – in the Scot’s favour. The margins were, or one felt, breathtakingly tight.
Until then, Postol had been sturdy under several delectable single shots from Taylor who, as the contest progressed, neglected his promising early body attack.
That will resurface with experience.
There was some tidy bodywork from both in the opening rounds and a Postol right to the stomach seemed to cause Taylor to gulp deeply and then retreat.
It was a moment to learn from and there were plenty of those as he pulled out recklessly from too many exchanges. You learn from lessons, not exhibitions.
And this was no procession. Class was in session, Taylor a willing student, Postol a stubborn, stylish educator. Everyone could tell it was a coming of age fight and performance. You don’t come of age if you have everything your own way. It was hard, competitive, entertaining and intriguing. In other words, it looked nothing like the scorecards.
The only semi-logical explanation for the results, and I’m reaching here, is that the judges scored every close round to the Scot. But in a tight fight, I’ve always felt that subconsciously if you can’t separate the boxers in hard-to-call sessions then you have the ability to reflect a certain closeness on the cards. If you can hardly pick a winner in the sessions, you do not consistently put 10 in the same column. Boxers in the blue corner are worth more than that. They are owed more than that. Postol took his lumps last night. He has paid his dues. He did not deserve scorecards that I could have predicted and distributed after 10 rounds.
We hope there was nothing sinister. But the truth of the matter is before the final round started I tweeted, “Could and maybe should all be down to this round. Suspect we know the scores.”
Why would I write that if I have not seen this crap before?
But how do you explain those cards without making claims, getting in to trouble and saying what you hope is not the case.
How can you explain to Postol that for his efforts in a nip-and-tuck tear up, which both fighters should have been proud to have been involved in, he won next to nothing?
But let us not call for penalties, bans, investigations and recriminations because nothing ever happens. No one ever hears. No one ever takes responsibility. No one holds their hands up and nothing changes. Ever. The vicious cycle goes round like sport’s most pointless hamster wheel.
If we say nothing then we are complicit with the tripe we have to tolerate and try to explain. If we say something we waste our breath. We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
There’s something evil in boxing and it stinks. It’s so repugnant that it can take the gloss off a gleaming example of the sport at its best.
The WBC appointed the judges. The British Boxing Board of Control sanctioned the bout. Yet the cards will be left down to three interpretations, which coincidentally vastly differed from just about every other verdict.
So let us not waste our breath calling for change that boxing’s ‘job-for-the-boys’ leaders pretend they cannot hear and instead savour that Scotland has a world-class 13-0 talent who brilliantly got fresher and fitter in the championship rounds (in his first trip at that distance) and who might turn out to be his country’s best fighter of the last 50 years.