In fight sports there is a popular parlance: “Never let it go to the judges.” If you need an explanation as to why just ask Gennady “GGG” Golovkin after last night’s controversial draw ruling. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went the distance against Golovkin in a particularly brutal match of even skill. While Golden Boy Promotions really wanted you to believe this was going to be an all-out, ugly slug fest it was anything but one. Golovkin and Canelo each put the other to the test in a very skilled match-up.
Both have been accused of looking good on paper but a.) in Canelo’s case having yet to beat a great, still haunted by the specter of his 2013 loss to Mayweather and b.) Golovkin, while a certifiable wrecking ball, had yet to contend against “elite” fighters. In this case, the bout was to prove both their claims as elite, if there was ever any serious doubt.
The fight was ruled by judge Adalaide Byrd 118-110 Canelo, Dave Moretti 115-113 Golovkin and Don Trella 114-114 for the split draw. Most under fire is Adalaide Byrd who is probably not having a great morning right now. Last night Bob Bennett, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, went ringside afterward to try and address Byrd’s decision:
“Unfortunately, Adalaide was a little wide. I’m not making any excuses. I think she’s an outstanding judge, and in any business, sometimes you have a bad day. She saw the fight differently [than the other judges]. It happens.“
True we all have bad days. For example, I ripped my pants right down the middle bending down at work the other day (true story). Though to dismiss this as a bad day for Byrd does Golovkin and Canelo disservice, especially after the two gave no ground and took the fight 12 rounds. While Canelo played careful tactician throughout most of the fight, picking his shots and primarily acting on counter-offense, Golovkin had volume. The numbers don’t lie, Canelo slowed down and GGG simply did not.
To a certain extent the fight was very much a draw as neither man gave ground to the other. Canelo carefully chose his spots for counter-attack, but Golovkin was absolutely relentless with his jabs which proved too much for Canelo at times. Hard shots were thrown but both men knew the other had an iron chin. Canelo set a fast pace for Golovkin early on, but around the third/fourth round the tide began to change and Golovkin found his rhythm just stifling Canelo with his barrage of jabs.
So went the majority of the fight, with Canelo finding enough gas within to push back against Golovkin, reminding him that he too hits fucking hard and Golovkin pushing Canelo back into the ropes with his barrage of hard jabs. Canelo for his credit faced Golovkin head-on nearly every time never having been knocked down once. He ultimately didn’t land or throw enough either. It did get a bit chippy though, with Canelo throwing a cheap shot and GGG immediately returning the favor.
Oscar De La Hoya literally cannot wait for a rematch as he, of course, immediately demanded one. In all likelihood he’ll get what he wants, as it seems neither fighter was happy to let this be a split draw. Miguel Cotto wants his absolute final fight to be against last night’s winner but who knows how that’ll pan out now.
This was definitely the fight boxing desperately needed after this summer’s other spectacle, but not at all the ending it was hoping for. Hard to believe a rematch won’t loom next year, but in the interim, what do we do with my man Cotto? And will Adalaide Byrd find respite from being the rogue judge once again? Probably not.
Here are some choice moments from last night’s brutal bout.