On Saturday night, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin authored one of the best boxing matches in recent memory. It had everything – much more than, say, Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor.
“This was really the polar opposite to Mayweather/McGregor,” CBSSports.com boxing analyst Brian Campbell said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “That was sort of your fancy appetizer that’s high-priced and looks better than it tastes. This was the main course, the steak dinner – because in this matchup, you had a really good chance you were going to get high-level skills, but you were going to get action. You were going to get two guys trying to win the fight every second of the 12 rounds. I know that sounds a little crazy, but we’ve seen on the highest level lopsided fights: maybe Floyd Mayweather pulling the will out of his opponents early because he was so dominant. Great for him, not always great for us.
“We knew on paper this could be a special fight,” Campbell said. “It pretty much lived up to expectations inside the ring. If it’s not a great fight, then it’s a very good one because you saw two guys emptying the tank, showing you not just the big chin, not just the big shots being landed, but really good defense, really good toughness. It really was the kind of fight that deserved the standing ovation it got. But man, this is a crazy sport, and that high we felt in the arena on Saturday night, the air quickly came out of the balloon when the decision was read.”
Indeed, after 12 brilliant rounds, the fight was ruled a draw. One judge gave the nod to Golovkin, one judge gave the nod to Alvarez, and one judge called it a tie.
Many people were perplexed, if not angry. The general consensus was that Golovkin won the fight but that Alvarez raised his profile in a close loss.
“That was sort of the narrative already set in motion as you’re heading to the scoreboards,” Campbell said. “But in the build-up to this fight, in every radio show I did, I had to give an asterisk at the end: I’m predicting Golovkin will win a decision, Canelo will be tough but he won’t have enough, but let’s not forget Canelo always gets the benefit of the doubt – and you better believe that was in my head as the scorecards were being read.”
While a draw will leave many fans clamoring for a rematch, it will also leave many fans frustrated and disgusted.
“It reinforces all of the negative stereotypes surrounding this sport,” Campbell said. “So many people used to be boxing fans. When they see a fight like this one, they go, ‘Why am I not watching more of this?’ And then that decision smacks you in the face. You feel cheated as a fan. You can feel both fighters being cheated by this kind of decision. When you hear that first scorecard, you get the feeling – not incompetence; you get the feeling like that scorecard was written four days earlier and Golovkin never had a chance. Alvarez, in his five biggest fights now, he has received that outlier scorecard that makes no sense. It’s not just a coincidence. It’s a trend. And it’s something that in this wild wild west image of boxing, times like this, I’ve had enough of this. I don’t know if the Nevada State Athletic Commission needs to just clean house, but it’s time to either stop going to Nevada or clean up this mess – because it’s the same judges that are putting out the same scorecards, and guess what? They’re getting jobs again. It’s beyond frustrating.”