So, it finally happened. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin finally had his big fight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and the fight somewhat lived up to my expectations. Most people familiar with boxing knew the outcome would have to end in a KO in GGG’s favor for him to win because of a trend of judging malpractice. The In pretty much every single one of Canelo’s biggest match ups, we’ve seen at least one scorecard that warrants a scratch of the head. Against Austin Trout, Stanley Christodoulou scored it 118-109, a far larger margin than most onlookers saw. Against Floyd Mayweather Jr., C.J. Ross scored it 114-114 despite Mayweather Jr. dominating the match, and most would agree he had more success landing and pressuring Canelo than GGG did. Against Erislanda Lara, whom I believed defeated Canelo, Levi Martinez scored the bout 117-111, obviously a much larger margin than what most people saw and somewhat reminiscent of Canelo’s performance against GGG.
Lara mostly fought off the back foot and landed with great accuracy—he dictated the terms of the fight for the most part. As for Canelo, while he spent most of his time on the back foot, he did not fight off the back foot as I predicted a year and a half ago. While it may be similar that there was one obvious aggressor and one obvious defensive counter fighter, one had much clearer success in this venture. Lara did enough to win against Canelo with his ability to remain active and in the fight despite being on the defensive. Though Canelo had success in spurts against GGG, he largely remained focused on being defensive and staying alive and hardly fought for the full 3 minutes per round. If you think Canelo did enough to defeat Lara, then you should definitely believe GGG did enough to defeat Canelo. If not, then you and I both know you are not intellectually honest.
Continuing with questionable score cards, against Miguel Cotto, Dave Moretti scored the fight 119-109, giving Cotto ONE round. That fight was one of the most competitive fights I’ve seen yet somehow the judge saw it as a landslide win for Canelo. Against Amir Khan, Glenn Trowbridge scored the fight 49-46 before the fight ended in Khan’s KO loss. Most people saw Khan dominating the fight before he got countered into oblivion yet this judge somehow saw the complete opposite. And finally we have the infamous Adalaide Byrd scoring the bout 118-110 in Canelo’s bout against GGG.
With all this information available before the actual match and most people often associating boxing with robberies, this result isn’t too surprising. I’m actually surprised they didn’t just rob GGG outright and give the nod to Canelo, but there is more money in a rematch and Canelo’s prospects don’t look too big after GGG retires anyway. This fight wasn’t as close as some people would have you believe. A close fight and a competitive fight are two different things. While most close fights are indeed competitive I wouldn’t extrapolate that to saying most competitive fights should have close results. This fight, while a bit underwhelming for me, did surprise me in some ways. Canelo showed me that he did grow a bit in terms of footwork and patience, other than that he didn’t show much. Anyone that knows boxing knew Canelo would never be willing to trade. He’s always been a boxer/counter puncher, he doesn’t create his own opportunities he waits for the gift to fall in his lap, and that’s why I ultimately can’t support him. He does have skills and he can be exciting, but the constant gifts from judges and his unwillingness to be honest with himself or his fans is quite annoying.
He vowed to fight like a Mexican and that he’d knock GGG out, yet he fought on the back foot for most of the fight, unwilling to trade, unwilling to engage and show the heart of a Mexican. His fans are quite aware of it now. If him being booed after the contest by a largely Mexican crowd was any indication of how his fans now view him. He disparaged Lara and Mayweather for being unwilling to trade, yet he himself did the same thing (albeit more amateurish) and remains on his high horse believing he did enough to win a fight of which he spent on average 2 minutes a round resting on the ropes or backpedaling. To become a true star literally all his trainers have to do is improve his conditioning. The few times he decided to open up and show he had heart, he was able to contend with GGG and I was impressed. If he was willing to abandon his fears and go for the KO he could’ve revived boxing and made me a fan. I am a fan of his skills and his style, but I’m not a fan of him as whole, if that makes sense. I know people will deem me a hater—well I am, to an extent. I have clear cut reasons and if they were to be proven wrong, then by all means sign me up for the fan club.
I scored the fight 8 rounds to 4 in favor of GGG. The thing is he never entirely dominated a round. In any given round, it could be argued either way to an extent. Most people that score it a draw or in Canelo’s favor give him rounds 1-3 and 10-12, which I believe is ridiculous. They are all (for the most part) swing rounds, or highly competitive ones that are difficult to argue 100% for one fighter. Generally, when a champion is being challenged, the tough or competitive rounds go to the champion, because he gets the benefit of the doubt so to speak. You must outshine the champ to be the champ. In this endeavor Canelo was not successful. After round 3 he was tapped out. His cardio has always been in question and rounds are largely scored on activity—the fighter that controls the pace and fights his fight normally gets the nod from the judges. Against GGG, an aggressive counter puncher, this flaw in Canelo’s game was evident. He only fought in spurts of brilliance before being driven down under the wave of GGG’s jab and aggressive footwork.
I’ll break down the fight briefly using scoring criteria. Clean punching favors GGG overall. He landed more punches, mainly his trademark jab and only scored 4 fewer power punches than Canelo. While Canelo at times scored some eye-catching power shots, they were not too effective at changing the tides because of GGG’s durability and they were too few and far between to have any meaningful impact on the early or late rounds. Ring generalship without question goes to GGG. Canelo was on his bike and on the ropes for 80% of the fight. GGG had Canelo where he wanted most of the time and landed enough punches to be awarded with effective work—thanks mostly to his accurate power jab—easily awarding him Ring Generalship. I would’ve liked if he mixed in uppercuts and threw more to the body but it seems age took the win in terms of GGG’s usually excellent punch choices. Defense also goes to GGG. HERE ME OUT. Here is a simple explanation. Yes, Canelo did display good head and hip movement, but I believe defense has to factor in one’s position and mindset.
If any of you reading this have stepped into a boxing ring or MMA cage, you know it’s much easier to avoid being hit if you have little to no intention to fire back. All you have to do is sit back, react and get on your bicycle and you feel like Mohammad Ali, that is until you want to return fire. It’s much more difficult to avoid and display defensive prowess while also looking to be on the offensive. Canelo did not have much success landing on GGG cleanly and consistently. GGG’s defense has always been underrated because he is an aggressive counter puncher rather than a passive one. You WILL eat some clean punches when you’re the aggressor even if you’re a defensive genius like Mayweather. GGG was able to smother, deflect and block a lot of Canelo’s punches despite being on the front foot most of the match. If you factor in what position each boxer was in when displaying their defensive capabilities, I give GGG the edge. Even if you give Canelo the edge in defense it does not change the fact that GGG landed more consistently, dictated the pace of the fight and controlled the center of the ring. GGG made this into a fight, therefore he won. The fight was competitive as far as Canelo’s ability to counter punch when he had the energy and to keep GGG guessing while on the ropes, but was it difficult to choose a winner of the fight? Absolutely not. GGG without a doubt won the fight by out-landing and controlling his opponent. Any argument for this fight to be a draw is quite ludicrous. Considering Daniel Jacobs displayed better footwork and a stronger will to fight back and throw combinations than Canelo, if anyone deserved a draw against GGG it’s him.
While the fight was entertaining, it did fall below my expectations as far as how GGG performed. His punch choice (overuse of the overhand right) and lack of body work really disappointed me as well as Canelo’s unwillingness to stand his ground and exchange punches. He lost the chance to truly display his heart and counter punching ability. I expected this to join the conversation for Fight of the Year, but it still unequivocally goes to Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko with Badou Jack vs. James Degale in second place. The press and fans alike focused on one of the major flaws in boxing, the influence of promoters on the judges, rather than the skillful display by Canelo and GGG.
2017 was one of the best years in boxing as far as match ups go. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez vs. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Duology, a new king of the Heavyweights crowned in spectacular fashion, the World Boxing Super Series kicking off to a great start, the prospect of two of the best pound-for-pound fighters fighting on December 9th (Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Vasyl Lomachenko) and more. GGG and Canelo were going to be the closer on a great year for boxing, and following Mayweather and Conor McGregor lacing up the gloves, a lot of attention was on Oscar De La Hoya bringing dignity back to boxing after trashing the Mayweather-McGregor fight occurring right before his Golden Boy fight. And it’s evident that a lot of MMA fans and fighters descended upon the GGG-Canelo fight to see the best of what boxing had to offer. We needed a true display that boxing is not dying and that the best of the best produce results when they do finally come head to head. This fight failed as far as fully displaying what boxing has to offer.
GGG was far too hesitant at the start and Canelo hopped on his bike after the 3rd round and to top it off boxing revealed for all to see just how prone it is to corruption. There is nothing sports fans want more than a decisive win—which we got since GGG was the clear winner—and the fans want that win to come from a hard-fought war as advertised. But we got one fighter pushing the action and that fighter being robbed of his rightful victory. De La Hoya is the real slap in the face to boxing, not an exhibition match. Though he pitched this fight as a throwback to the Golden age, his fighter decided not to fight with pride but with fear and arrogance. Canelo knows that if he just survived without getting knocked out he would be protected by the judges. He’s been repeatedly taught like a child that no matter what, De La Hoya will make sure he is protected and even worse he will always have fans on his side because of his heritage. Many Mexicans, however, have denounced Canelo because he displayed that he is not the macho man he claims to be. He declared that he’d show GGG what the true Mexican style of boxing is and then proceeded to adopt a style he and most Mexicans find cowardly. That is, fighting off the back foot to avoid a melee from breaking out because of your opponent’s power and the fear you cannot KO said opponent. Mexicans have historical been great infighters, willing to take a punch to give one as well as great body punchers. Canelo opted to display his fear of getting KO’d by avoiding exchanges as much as possible and throwing the odd body punch or small flurry here and there.
As some of you may have seen, Teddy Atlas himself had no choice but to rebuke the so-called boxing officiators for allowing robberies like this to continue. Corruption is one of the main reasons people are tuning out of boxing and it’s so rampant that avid fans have no choice but to factor corruption into their estimations to an outcome of a fight. That one fighter has to go above and beyond while the other fighter skips rope for 36 minutes and come out on top. That the fighters that train and put their lives on the line in one of the most dangerous sports on the planet and not get his credit when credit is due. If we want boxing to survive we must take what Atlas has said seriously. We as fans of the sport have to come together and boycott the big promoters. They’re so arrogant they don’t even hide their corruption at this point and it’s insane. A corrupt judge can turn in a card that a child knows is bogus and that judge can keep their job and get paid to scam another fighter out of his paycheck because the promoter wants to protect his fighter’s record and marketability. If anything killed boxing this year it wasn’t Mayweather’s bout with McGregor, but the corrupt aspect of boxing that has plagued the sport since the beginning. The ease with which promoters can influence the outcome of a bout before the fighters even step into the ring has been something the authorities within boxing have refused to address. And why would they?
They continue to line their own pockets and the fans will pay to watch the fights despite the blatant corruption. Promoters like De La Hoya, who have boxed professionally and remain icons, continue to participate in this corruption while pointing the finger at Mayweather. De La Hoya himself has been robbed in boxing matches, notably against Felix Trinidad, and it’s unfortunate that he’d gladly continue the tradition of using his influence to cheat other fighters out of their well-deserved victories. Judges do have a mind of their own and believe that if they score the fight a certain way, a promoter is more likely to select them for another big pay day. The best way to address this issue is to have some agency other than the promoters to select the judges and test them vigorously regarding to how they score fights. At this point, promoters themselves can solve this issue by hiring judges based on their merit and intellectual honesty. This way judges won’t feel pressured to score fights in an obviously biased fashion to secure a future, and they’ll be forced to perform their job well in order to score future fights. For those that believe that there will always be corruption, I don’t disagree with you. There will always be people that are exceedingly greedy and are willing to bend or break the rules for personal gain but we can at least minimize it by making it more difficult for them to corrupt the sport.
This doesn’t exclude the fans either. Stop supporting dirty fighters. Canelo’s team displayed time and again they’re okay with corrupt judges on their side—by refusing to acknowledge or even show humility when there’s a blatantly biased scorecard—and the reason they continue to get the nod from these judges is because of their star power. If they are not a draw, the promoter has no leverage to steer the judges. That would be unfair, however, to the fighter in some circumstance. Canelo has more than earned the right to be boycotted the way he has abused his power and it will only hurt his legacy. He’s young and has room to grow but as of now he and his team are only hurting him. The blatant corruption and his arrogance to boot will only earn him the title of a disgrace and a diva rather than a prideful warrior. While even Julio Cesar Chavez has had some questionable decisions in his favor, namely Pernell Whittaker, he not only talked the talk but walked the walk. In the last 3 years Canelo’s only proved he can talk.
GGG already won a hard fight and at the rate he’s aging, I’m not interested in watching a rematch. Just try to unify the division and move on. He has nothing else to prove, but an extra paycheck couldn’t hurt. Both De La Hoya and Canelo need to shape up and be honest with themselves. Once they get their shit together there’s no doubt in my mind boxing can truly exceed what it once was. Someone must spearhead this change and lord knows Bob Arum won’t, so it’s up to the big promoters and fighters to do something while they have the attention before it’s too late to bring back the fans this event may have turned away.