Golovkin-Canelo classic fight marred by controversy

Tim Caplan-Anchor Contributor

Corruption is a black mark that has stained the history of boxing since its inception more than 100 years ago. Every boxing fan knows the story of Jake La Motta taking a fall so that he would be able to get a shot at the title. Whether it was the mafia telling athletes to take a fall due to gambling, or a champion being held away from the contenders because of politics, boxing has long held a reputation for being one of the sleaziest sports when it comes to money and corruption.

On Saturday Sept. 16, 2017, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez met at the T- Mobile Center in Las Vegas, commencing the most anticipated boxing fight of the past three years.

The anticipation to find the best 160lb middleweight boxer in the world swept the boxing community. Golovkin was the lineal middleweight champion, meaning that he held the WBO, WBA, and IBF world championships at 160 pounds. For his entire career, Canelo had fought at junior middleweight, 154 pounds, until his last fight. While this match was a slight step up in weight for Canelo, his victory against Julio Caesar Chavez in May had given him a taste of fighting at the weight class, in addition to the visible changes to Canelo made to his body in this training camp, looking much more muscular than before.

The fight began slowly. Golovkin was very cautious of Canelo’s power, as he knew Canelo was the quicker fighter, while Golovkin has never been the flashiest boxer. He has never thrown the most stylish combinations and he’s never been the fastest puncher or had the slickest footwork. Instead, Golovkin likes to take steps forward, put the jab in his opponent’s face, pressure him onto the ropes, and try to land his lethal right hand cross.

Canelo showed his athleticism and strength early, landing hooks to the body and head of Golovkin while slipping most of his strikes. HBO Commentator and former boxing world champion, Roy Jones Jr., said that Canelo’s defense had never looked so good. Even though Canelo was coming up a weight class, it seemed like he was the larger, stockier fighter in the ring. Canelo used his quickness, shoulder roll, and hooks to win the first few rounds.

Golovkin had never started this slow in a fight before. He took until round three to get comfortable, sending Canelo against the ropes to receive a barrage of strikes that only Golovkin could deliver. Canelo would occasionally starch “GGG” with a hard overhand right or a hard hook to the body. Golovkin’s work-horse type attitude kept his jab in Canelo’s face, placing pressure on Canelo like he’d never experienced before.

Golovkin kept this pace through the entire rest of the fight, constantly backing up Canelo, keeping him against the ropes for almost every round until round 11, when Canelo began swinging for the fences to close out the fight.

The final bell rang and both fighters raised their hands, as is tradition. The scores were then read out loud, the rounds were scored by the judges 8-4 Golovkin, 6-6, and 10-2 Canelo. This sent the boxing community into an outrage. Referee Addelaide Byrd was the one who scored it 10 rounds to 2 for Canelo. Byrd has been criticized in the past for producing awful scorecards, like a tie between Mayweather and Canelo and Tim Bradley’s victory over Manny Paquiao.

Former world class trainer Teddy Atlas, along with Super Flyweight contender Dwayne Beamon made claims that Byrd had received a bribe to make sure Canelo won, because Canelo’s fan base was much larger, and a Canelo win would result in more eyes on the sport of boxing in the future.   

Chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission Bob Bennet was questioned at the post fight press conference, in which he defended Byrd, claiming she had judged over 115 world title fights. Three days later, Bennet removed Byrd from the next big combat sports card in Las Vegas, UFC 216, claiming that she was going to “take a break from the bigger fights.”