Boxing's credibility takes another hit with judging of 'Canelo' fight

Kenny Archer

Kenny Archer

Kenny is the deputy sports editor and a Liverpool FC fan.

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (right) throws a right at Gennady Golovkin during their middleweight boxing bout in 2017 in Las Vegas.
Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (right) throws a right at Gennady Golovkin during their middleweight boxing bout in 2017 in Las Vegas. Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (right) throws a right at Gennady Golovkin during their middleweight boxing bout in 2017 in Las Vegas.

BOXING has never really been my bag, ever since I found out the hard way that I have a glass jaw - and that it isn't a good combination with a big mouth and plenty of opinions.

My boyhood pugilistic dreams had already been deflated by my brother taking a pin to my inflatable punch-bag, but I was the living embodiment of Mike Tyson's wise words: 'Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.'

The explosive fury and ferocity of 'Iron Mike' had re-awakened a pretty dull heavyweight division, with boxing's glamour having been held earlier in the Eighties by 'the Four Kings' - Marvelous Marvin Hagler, 'Sugar' Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, and Roberto Duran.

Their talents and rivalry were exceptional, epoch-driving; the British/Irish rivalries involving Steve Collins, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, and the tragic Michael Watson into the mid-Nineties were pretty special too.

The traumas suffered by Watson and Gerard McClellan were one factor in me losing interest in watching boxing, but the move from terrestrial television to satellite coverage mostly shown by the company of an awful right-wing Australian probably had more of an adverse effect on my viewing.

In more recent years, of course I've followed with interest Irish boxers such as Carl Frampton and Michael Conlan, but the latter's most famous moment is a major reason why I still mostly remain outside the ring when it comes to following boxing.

Conlan boxed the head off Vladimir Nikitin, to such an extent that the Russian wasn't fit to fight in his semi-final, yet still 'won' a bronze medal… That's right, the semi-final, because corrupt judges somehow awarded the decision to Nikitin. The only thing 'Smokin' about that Vlad were his pants on fire when he said he deserved to win.

Amateur boxing has been plagued by such mind-boggling verdicts, but dodgy decisions are also prevalent in the professional game.

The fact that the latter is such big, multi-million dollar/pound business ensures that promoters will always try to skew the odds in favour of their fighters.

It has always happened and it clearly continues to happen.

Off the top of my head, dubious decisions include the first Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder being scored as a draw, a year or so after the same verdict was issued in the first meeting of Gennady Golovkin and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez. The latter won the re-match, despite having testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug earlier that year.

At the weekend, the judges did their best/ worst to manufacture another draw for Mexican hero Canelo in his fight against Dmitry Bivol, all three scoring the bout 115-113, despite the Russian completely dominating the fight.

Much, much worse was the recent award of victory to Scottish champion Josh Taylor even though anyone with working eyes had seen that he'd been well beaten by challenger Jack Catterall.

Soccer supporters quite rightly complain about some VAR decisions, but if games went to judging then the major trophies would almost always go to those who had the most money and influence. Oh….

Perhaps it's time boxing followed the lead of another sport that I watched in the Eighties: ice dancing.

Sure, they're poles apart in many respects, but at least ice dancing reacted to its judging scandal(s) and changed its scoring methods.

Ice dance and figure skating now have detailed elements to be calculated as part of their scoring, with a minimum of four judges, up to nine in major events.

Boxing obviously needs better, unbiased judges. Perhaps members of the media, or ex-boxers, could be included in the panel, although all could still be open to influence.

At the very least, I'd propose that boxing needs more than three judges.

A small sample size is more likely to be skewed at best, wrong at worst, and that's an element in these dreadful decisions in boxing.

Have seven, maybe 10, judges, and you'll have a much reduced likelihood of a plainly wrong verdict being issued.

Until then, boxing will often continue to lack credibility.


Many wondered if Pep Guardiola was punch-drunk post-match on Sunday - or just plain drunk?

The Manchester City manager had just seen his superb side thrash Newcastle United 5-0 to move three points clear at the top of the English Premier League table with only three matches remaining.

Yet the Catalan then embarked on a bizarre rant claiming that "Everyone in this country supports Liverpool, the media and everyone."

They're still laughing around Goodison, Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge… everywhere outside Pep's head, really.

Even allowing for hyperbole, with even native English speakers using 'Everybody' for emphasis and effect, to mean 'a lot of people', Guardiola's claim doesn't stand up to any scrutiny.

Even though City are on course to retain the title, to win it for the fourth time in five years, and the sixth in 11 seasons, many supporters of other clubs would prefer them to succeed - and, more importantly to them, for Liverpool to 'fail'.

Pep's real problem is that City are half-way to being the 'anti-Millwall': no one loves them (apart from their own fans), but also no one cares about them.

It's a damning indictment of the lack of respect for City's achievements that even most supporters of their supposed greatest rivals, Manchester United, would rather have City win the title than Liverpool.

That's not only as another triumph would draw the Reds level on 20 titles with the Red Devils, but because Manchester United fans know Liverpool would have earned their success.

Of course, as this column has repeatedly acknowledged, City's success isn't inevitable - just look at United's ongoing failures having spent similar amounts. Pep is a brilliant manager and City a superbly-run club.

Pep is eaten up by his failure to win the Champions League with City, indeed ever since he left Barcelona. Last week's incredible, undeserved exit against Real Madrid understandably really hurt.

With Liverpool into their third CL final in five seasons, and still in the running for an unprecedented quadruple, of course they were going to attract a lot of attention.

The other aspect is that the media's job is to fulfil public interest - and most people aren't that interested in City, nowhere near as many people as hate Liverpool, for example.

If City acquire the phenomenal Norwegian striker Erling Braut Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, as appears almost certain, then their completion of a title treble next season would be almost certain too.

Hard as it may be for many, they should actually want Liverpool to stop the City juggernaut; otherwise the EPL will become merely one club's plaything, like the French league.