LAS VEGAS — Leave it to one judge to screw up a great fight. Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin battled tooth and nail over 12 rounds in a highly competitive fight that was mired by judge Adalaide Byrd’s wide 118-110 scorecard for Canelo, creating a split draw decision.
In an eerie replay of the early rounds of Marvin Hagler vs. Sugar Ray Leonard 30 years ago, Golovkin was gunshy in the early round. This allowed Canelo to get off first at ring center with flashy combinations and jump out to a 3-0 lead on all scorecards.
From there, Golovkin became the stalking predator that’s made him famous.
Golovking upped the pressure and forced Canelo to the ropes with his jab. Canelo was visibly uncomfortable trying to maintain movement as Golovkin repeatedly cornered him and worked right hands around the guard. While Canelo did manage to occasionally back up Golovkin with hard counter shots, it was the middleweight champion’s pressure, jabs and right hands that consistently dominated the action through the ninth.
Sensing he was in a hole, Canelo dug deep in the championship rounds. Despite being fatigued, he exploded strategically with clusters of eye-catching power shots before retreating under Golovkin’s relentless pressure. This tactic proved to be a lifesaver as Canelo out-landed Golovkin in power shots over the last three rounds and swept them on the judges’ cards.
The close fight was correctly reflected in the scores of Dave Moretti (115-113) and Don Trella (114-114). But Byrd’s egregious 118-110 card made for the split draw. The crowd lustily booed the verdict and Canelo, who declared he won at least eight rounds. Golovkin chastised Canelo for “running” and affirmed his willingness for an immediate rematch.
The result marks a sour end to a superfight that was 18 months in the making and marketed as the antithesis of the “Mayweather-Gregor circus.”
Well, at least the people who bet on a draw get to clean up at the sportsbook. I’ll write more about this tomorrow, but let me close your evening with a few points.
- Adalaide Byrd should never judge another fight. She gave GGG two rounds.
- This verdict sullies Canelo’s reputation and paints him as a protected fighter. We’ve seen too much scoring favoritism in his high-level fights against Trout, Mayweather, Lara, and now Golovkin. Getting booed out the building on Mexican Independence Day weekend says it all.
- I had GGG winning 115-113, but his stamina is becoming a concern at 35 years old. He never stopped the pressure after round three, but his punch output dropped heavily in the championship rounds, giving Canelo the wiggle room to escape with the 114-114 score.
- If you’re wondering why GGG looked so happy about arguably being robbed, keep in mind he’s thinking about another career-high payday in the rematch.