Canelo, Golovkin and the luck of the draw

“To me judges seem the well paid watch-dogs of Capitalism, making things safe and easy for the devil Mammon.”

Maud Gonne, Irish philanthropist (1865-1953)

Sunday was a long day. Tired from the all-nighter that stretched between my back row seat at the CopperBox Arena in London, where I saw Billy Joe Saunders retain his WBO bauble in a soporific engagement with a subdued, and at times motionless, Willie Monroe Jr., through to 5am back on the sofa for a thudding, if not exhilarating, bout between Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez for the real Middleweight title.

I’d risen after three hours sleep, sought comfort in tea and the balm of contemplating Adalaide Byrd opening her eyes, and blinking her way in to a morning of regret. Perhaps permitting herself the hint of a smile at the word play of her husband Robert, a decorated boxing referee, asking if she wanted him to draw the curtains. 

Unlike me she wouldn’t have had to wrestle with the dilemma of what to say if asked how good Daniel Dubois had looked. I was leaning toward ‘terrifying’ as I sipped my tea, in both the positive and negative sense of the word, but the truth was I missed his knockout of the over-matched AJ Carter because I’d queued for Nachos at just the wrong time.

Nor, I doubt, given the opportunities her two decades as an appointed judge by the Nevada State Athletic Commission will have presented, would Byrd have allowed a moment’s hesitation to prevent her stretching out a hand to the heavyweight champion of the world. I did, as he passed, self-awareness and vulnerability drifting on the breeze from his own ambling mass and that of the travelling coterie of flat-caps and brogue shoes surrounding him.

As with all things with the brevity of a Golovkin and Canelo match up, there are no shortage of opinions, angles and, in the modern era, talking-head videos to consume. I doubt you will find a perspective here not repeated amongst the cacophony of voices you will have already read or listened to. Most will bemoan Byrd’s card and a few will doubtless have defended it, believing in doing so they can join a more sparsely populated island of wisdom and refinement unavailable to the masses.

As an aside, I’ve been guilty of the latter in my travails in the sport. Maturity brings sufficient self-awareness to reflect and recognise this misplaced motivation; when the sub-conscious quest to be contrary led to the nadir of suggesting Clifford Etienne could outwork Mike Tyson to a points decision. Historians will recall Etienne lasted less time than AJ Carter did on Saturday.

Which isn’t to say the democracy of a majority is always right but within the confines of judging and scoring prizefights. The consensus is rarely wrong.

In the midst of this cavalcade of opinion, post-fight statistics, replays, conspiracy theories and a hundred scorecards from trusted writers and a thousand from anonymous tweeters two truths should rest heaviest of all.

The first, the history books are never changed. This fight will always be recorded as a draw. It will travel on through history with the narrative surrounding it of course, in our stories, recollections and in our shared consciousness but along the way the memory will fade and the merit of the outcome will be shared equally.  That will be the great injustice. In the same way it was for contentious and controversial predecessors like Lennox Lewis v Evander Holyfield in 1999, John Heenan and Tom Sayers in 1860 or Jeff Fenech and Azumah Nelson in 1991.

After the frustrations of the night and the tiredness of my Sunday, the second truth this outcome encourages, is to trust your own instincts. However close some parties may claim the fight was, no matter how closely Alvarez’s punch success stacked up statistically in the soulless spreadsheets of Sunday morning. Trust what you see.

And what we all saw, was that the fight was won by Gennady Golovkin. Whether he loses a rematch or gets danced around by Billy Joe Saunders before it happens.

Don’t laugh too hard at the later notion either, otherwise you can’t join me on this island of wisdom.

Late note: Adelaide Byrd has been removed from the big fight roster in the aftermath of her 118-110 abomination.




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