Canelo, Golovkin, and The Truth

By Paul Magno on September 19, 2017
Canelo, Golovkin, and The Truth
It’s hard to shed tears for Adalaide Byrd and the likely end of a career full of awfulness.

The entire system is flawed to the point of being inherently corrupt—and very few boxing businessmen would have it any other way…

Last Saturday’s middleweight bout between Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin was a proper draw. An argument could be made for a 115-113 score, but it was hardly the robbery some fans and media are claiming.

Keep in mind that many of those crying foul—media and fans alike—are those who have carried “Triple G” on their shoulders for the last five years or so, championing the cause of a man they felt to be the living embodiment of what a fighter SHOULD be. A lot of people came into this fight carrying agendas, not just Adalaide Byrd.

Speaking of Byrd—Yes, 118-110 was awful. But her awfulness doesn’t make a draw anything other than a draw…and the fight was a draw, or pretty damn near one for those scoring the fight like a judge and not a starry-eyed fan.

Maybe Byrd should never be allowed near another boxing scorecard again. The same, however, could be said for lots and lots of boxing judges. Actually, as any real boxing fan knows, the entire system is flawed to the point of being inherently corrupt—and very few boxing businessmen would have it any other way.

“You can’t just constantly say that these judges don’t know what they’re doing,” two-time former world champ Steve Cunningham told this writer when interviewed for another website. “They know what they’re doing. It would be easy to say that that they’re not on the take, that they’re mistaken, but it’s like ‘how come it’s always the house fighter that gets the benefit of the doubt?’”

“I’ve seen things with judges and promoters that are against the rules,” Cunningham added. “I’ve seen promoters take judges out to dinner…they ain’t supposed to do that…‘we’re gonna treat you good’…you know that’s an underhanded, that’s an under the table handshake saying, ‘alright, I’m gonna go with your guy, no matter what.’ I’ve seen [it]…you guys [in the media] have seen [it].”

Seeing the way the business works behind the scenes, it’s actually pretty amazing things aren’t worse and even more corrupt.

“Believe it or not, the promoters pay the judges,” affirmed former two-division world champ and TV commentator Bobby Czyz in a 2009 Fight Hype interview. “The judges are appointed by the commission and the promoter pays them. That’s part of his responsibility. Now, the sanctioning bodies, what they’ll do is say, ‘Any one of these 12 judges, we’ll accept’ because the sanctioning bodies have to accept the judges or they won’t sanction it as a title fight.”

For those not familiar with the judging system in boxing, here’s how it works:

A list of judges, pre-approved by the lead promoter, is taken by the sanctioning body to the commission (which is also often filled with buddies and old cronies of the promoter) and, from that list, three judges are appointed for the bout. The promoter is then responsible for not only providing payment to the judges, but in some states, required to provide for food, accommodations, and a small per diem to cover the judges’ expenses. In other words, the current system is one where the promoter is in control—either directly or indirectly—of virtually every aspect when it comes to selection and compensation of the officials.

So, in short, the person with the most to win or lose from a fight has pretty much ultimate say as to who will judge and officiate a bout featuring his fighter.

Mitch Abramson, then of the New York Daily News, had this to say about the incestuous relationship between promoters and judges in a 2009 article:

“…it’s the relationship between the judges and the promoters that should be examined.”

In the dense world of boxing, judges who score these fights are on the payroll of the event’s promoter.

For appearances sake, the promoter hands the check over to the commission, who then delivers it to the judges. But the result is the same: The promoter is paying the judge to make a decision in a fight the promoter has a financial stake in…This is outrageous. In no other major professional sport is a team owner responsible for the salary and housing of its officials.”

Again, given the way the business runs itself, it’s truly amazing that it runs as smoothly as it does.

Anyone with even a somewhat semi-complete grasp on the business behind the fights understands why bad decisions happen at the worst possible moments and almost always to the benefit of the “money” fighter.

The problem is that fans and media have proven themselves to be part of the problem by abdicating their responsibility in holding the sport’s powerbrokers’ feet to the flames over perceived offenses. Just as often as not, these same outraged Sunday morning moralists seem just fine with rotten scorecards that work out in favor of “their” guy.

Golovkin fans crying foul over last Saturday’s decision played dumb when Golovkin got the same benefits of scoring doubts against Daniel Jacobs this past March. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Very few fans are consistent in dealing with dubious judging and nobody in the media is even remotely diligent in pushing back against a diseased system that encourages big cheats when big money is on the line. None of that should come as a surprise in a sport where most of the biggest media voices are directly employed (or have been directly employed) by promoters who benefit the most from maintaining the status quo.

Sure, Adalaide Byrd will be offered up as a sacrifice to appease the masses—and it’s hard to muster any tears for her and the likely end of a career full of awfulness—but Byrd is more a symptom than the disease.

Boxing loves judges like Byrd. And it doesn’t matter one bit whether the sport adopts any of the half-assed concepts out there aimed at improving judging. Add more judges, elevate them above the ring, place them backstage, give them instant replay, increase the length of instructional seminars. None of that will work. Anything that fails to address the underlying reality of promoters paying for their own judging is just a waste of time.

In the meantime, the sport’s promoters will continue to maintain a system that produces judges ready and willing to score fights with a generous degree of gratitude towards whoever keeps them working.

For those with money on the line, this is good business—especially in a sport where nobody but nobody really seems to care about making any real, positive changes.

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  1. bikermike 08:25am, 09/24/2017

    The winner….IMHO…was GGG…by close decision.
    However…a draw is digestible as Golovkin remains the CHampion.
    THat 118-110 judge score card did not reflect anything close to what occurred throughout the match.

  2. wal man 07:16pm, 09/20/2017

    Daniel Jacobs didn’t win that fight and Alvarez didn’t gain a draw by fighting since he was on his horse for most of the fight and all of the middle rounds. He was out landed in the first round which he was awarded on the cards too. But we’re just know-nothing boxing fans. It’s our fault apparently that the judges get paid off. Nothing like blaming the VICTIM!

    I don’t know why GGG would give him another chance to rip him off because you’ll see they will given another chance.

    Oh yeah, I forgot…the money! I guess they will fight again.

  3. Steven Stahler 10:37am, 09/20/2017

    The writer is obviously not a real fan or very coherent on how to score a boxing match. Garbage article.

  4. nicolas 09:25pm, 09/19/2017

    TOM SMITH: I wanted GGG to win. but I really disagree with you that this was his night. Yes he is still middleweight champ, but he did not get the victory, Unlike the 115-113 and 114-114 verdicts, I thought that GGG won the 10gth. But think about this, had thee 114-114 judge given GGG that tenth round, there would act least be a feeling of justice that GGG got the win despite Byrd’s card. In many ways though, that GGG could not win one of the last three rounds on those two fair judges score cards is really for me Glolovkin’s failure to close the show. Credit to the man behind Alvarez for telling him to fight the last three rounds perfectly.

  5. David 01:59pm, 09/19/2017

    Everyone knows, and it’s no big secret, that boxing is mobbed-up. It’s all about the money, stupid.

  6. Koolz 12:57pm, 09/19/2017

    Canelo not fighting GGG now.  Not fighting till May 2018.  Not talking about rematch in 2018.
    GGG looking to fight in Dec.

    Canelo couldn’t hang with GGG hence why he backed up and got on his bike.
    Nice counters though.
    Hell of a fight I watched it again.  Still giving GGG the match.

  7. Timothy Agoglia Carey 09:08am, 09/19/2017

    Everything here was stacked against GGG…..all of his bullshit aside….. Sanchez knew it and guess what…..GGG did too and it showed big time on GGG’s face in every step that night leading up to the opening bell and his performance in the first two rounds. All of that shit about no worries about the ring size or the judges or anything and let’s just get it on was driven by good old fashioned greed….it was time to finally get paid and that as they say was that! Memo to Team GGG get up on your hind legs and stop acting like beggars…..starting with this….the champion enters the ring last!

  8. Tom Smith 08:50am, 09/19/2017

    No matter how you attempt to spin it, Canelo got outfought on Saturday night. GGG is now the people’s champ. He probably has more Mexican fans than Canelo at this point. Bad night for boxing. Bad night for Canelo (even though he fought a valiant fight), but this was a good night for GGG.

  9. Timothy Agoglia Carey 08:31am, 09/19/2017

    Not to worry….Adalaide says she feels bad about her card! You’re dealing with human beings here Boss…aside from not wanting to bite the hand that feeds her and hubby, her woman’s intuition probably was telling her that since this was a Golden Boy party the other two judges had to be leaning Canelo….so why not score everything close for the Saul! Kinda’ like bubbling in “C” on the answer sheet for every question on a multiple choice quiz!

  10. Sam Young 07:50am, 09/19/2017

    Paul Mango, you must be a Leftist Liberal Democrat. GGG won the fight 7 rounds to 5. Why do you participate in Boxing when obviously it’s something you know very little about ? Stick maybe to politics, talk about how much you hate Donald Trump and you love Communism.

  11. Koolz 05:45am, 09/19/2017

    Paul Magno
    we all have opinions.

  12. Norm Marcus 05:32am, 09/19/2017

    Paul:  I would love to see us eliminate judges all together. Go back to the turn of the century when you had to KO orTKO an opponent to get a win in the record books. Just two fighters in the ring with a referee. If no KO then it goes down as a NO CONTEST in the record book. Then the sports writers can decide in the media who they think won. It used to be called “a newspaper decision”. Remember? I think you would get better fights, more fan participation and less control by the businessmen who run the sport!
    Remember Promoter Mike Jacobs had Referee Arthur Donovan on his payroll and he refereed all of Louis’s fights in NY. Donovan was there for insurance to protect Jacobs meal ticket Joe Louis. Just in case..
    So while you can still get to a referee at least it would be harder to pull off.

  13. Antonio Morales Ortega 05:27am, 09/19/2017

    mr magno,  you’re blind.  it wasn’t close.  you’re just another biased pro mexican fighter.

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