Contested decisions are an inevitable part of boxing. In the old days, fights were to the finish, until one man quit or was physically unable to continue. But I’ve studied those eras extensively, and I can assure you, we don’t want to go back to those rules. Athletic commissions, and civilized society in general, would never allow it.
So unless one fighter can stop the other fighter inside of the 12-round distance, championship fights must depend upon the scoring of the three ringside judges. That means victory in boxing is often a matter of opinion, just as in figure skating, gymnastics and beauty pageants. And opinions will always vary from one individual to the next.
Only a damned fool could deny that there is corruption in boxing, and that some judges’ decisions are outright robberies. At other times, the judges are simply incompetent. They are swayed by the noise of the crowd, or else allow their expectations of a particular fight color their view of what is actually happening inside of the ring. I want to add that judging a fight competently is much harder than it might appear. And different judges can score a fight differently, in total honestly, based merely upon sitting on different sides of the ring.
Then, too, some fights are so close that they truly can be scored differently, by completely honest and competent judges. I will go to my grave convinced Juan Manuel Marquez should have gotten the decision in his second and third fights against Manny Pacquiao. But those weren’t “robberies.” They were very close fights, with room to disagree on critical rounds.
But Saul Alvarez’s unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto on Saturday night was no such fight. It was a clear victory for Canelo. Cotto fans insisting on the opposite are embarrassing themselves. They aren’t embarrasing themselves as badly as the Pacquiao fans who still insist their man deserved to beat Floyd Mayweather. But they are embarrasing themselves just the same.
Canelo fans who are trumpeting the “whooping” their man put on Cotto are embarrasing themselves just as much, of course. Cotto fought on competitive terms throughout the fight and showed tremendous heart and determination. But Alvarez landed more punches, and the punches he landed were more thudding. Canelo walked through Cotto’s punches, while physically moving Cotto with his own.
That Cotto’s trainer, Freddie Roach, has already stated he thinks his fighter should have won is regrettable, though somewhat understandable. A trainer invests a tremendous amount of emotion in his fighter and can be forgiven for showing bias. Then, too, Cotto was able to institute pretty much the gameplan he wanted, getting off first with his jab and moving well laterally. However, that gameplan did next to nothing to prevent Alvarez from doing what he wanted, which was to move into middle range and use very good upperbody movement to slip Cotto’s hook and retaliate with thudding shots to the body and upstairs.
I can understand some unhappiness over the margins on the scorecards. I can’t see how Dave Moretti could score just one of the 12 rounds for Alvarez. But John McKaie giving Canelo nine to three is reasonable. I could see Cotto possibly getting four rounds, but no more.