LAS VEGAS – There were three names on everyone’s lips at T-Mobile Arena and the wider social media sphere Saturday night, which is one more than there should have been.
There was, of course, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, after their ferocious middleweight draw that showed all boxing’s finest traits, such as heart and passion and determination.
And there was Adalaide Byrd, who has the kind of job where you only become famous for the wrong reasons, if you are in the position of administering propriety yet instead come up with an outcome that has everyone either shaking their heads or crying foul.
Byrd was one of three judges at T-Mobile Arena, and one of just under 23,000 people in the building. If there was a single one of them who agreed with her scoring of the contest by a margin of 118-110 for Alvarez, they sure as heck were keeping quiet about it.
Yes, there were some tight rounds, several of them. There were times when Alvarez would open with an aggressive flurry, only for Golovkin to walk him down in the closing minutes and make heavy contact of his own.
Yet how Ms. Byrd quite managed to sit through that wondrous 36-minute window of brutally fierce action and come to the conclusion that the man from Kazakhstan won only two rounds defies belief.
Her folly didn’t ruin the night. The only thing that could have done that would be if the roof had caved in and stopped this battle from continuing, just as Alvarez and Golovkin were hurling leather at each other in any of several action-packed rounds. Thankfully, the craziest scorecard in the building was offset by one that favored Golovkin seven rounds to five, and another that had it all square. Dave Moretti and Don Trella, no one will remember your names, but you did your job.
But should we be surprised? Hotly disputed decisions are no stranger to the sweet science, controversy the most consistent bedfellow this sport has had in its long and mystifying history.
In the end, it was a decision that, truth be told, suits just about everybody, not the least those who are sick of fights with as much action as a game of checkers and want to see more like this.
For the result and the nature of it should hopefully guarantee that a rematch occurs, and perhaps a third fight after that. Alvarez, exhausted from his efforts in resisting, absorbing and repelling his opponent’s power, was a little reticent afterward, claiming that “the people” would decide if the fighters should do it over again. The answer to that will be unanimously in favor.
It was a slugfest, with no quarter asked or given. We knew the boxers could deliver crushing blows. On this night, both took punishment that has felled so many in the past. Perhaps it is for the best. Alvarez’ sole defeat remains his loss as a raw youngster to Floyd Mayweather in 2013. Golovkin’s record is no longer perfect, but at 37-0-1 he is still undefeated.
Golovkin replied “of course” when popped with the rematch question and it won’t be long before money, which doesn’t just talk in this sport but screams at the top of its voice, makes itself heard.
Those who paid to watch Saturday will come back for more. Those who didn’t wish they had, and probably will next time. Indeed, it took less than 10 minutes after the conclusion for Golden Boy, Alvarez’s promoter, to tease the possibility of a do-over.
Which means boxing has something to look forward to, something that promised much and delivered even more. And now it might happen again, with a neat little controversy to tide us over until then.
Adalaide Byrd, maybe we should thank you.
Martin Rogers, USA TODAY Sports