Any sport that relies on human judging methods is asking for trouble.
And I’m not talking about football referees and their gormless assistants who only influence matters rather than make definitive determinations on an outcome as Posh sadly experienced at Walsall last weekend. At least there was still time to rectify the blunder at the Banks’s Stadium.
With boxing and many other Olympic sports like diving, ice dancing (I still wince at the perfect mark given to Torvill and Dean when the latter actually slipped over during a routine), and gymnastics we have to wait for a handful of individuals, some of whom are probably influenced by reputation or crowd support, to inform us of their verdict, as if it’s any more relevant than the millions of other people tuning in or at ringside.
Last Saturday’s big fight, the long-awaited clash between superstars Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, was ruined by a verdict of a draw which, luckily for bookmakers and TV executives, probably ensures a multi-billion pound re-match.
Golovkin won the fight by some distance according to most observers not influenced by the chance to make further fortunes in the future. Even many from Mexico who had seen their hero outfought, but who could still see a fraudulent decision when it smacked them on the chin.
But boxing has been a suspe ct sport for ages. From the day a sole judge, referee Harry Gibbs, decided Joe Bugner had outpointed Henry Cooper to win three big titles in 1971 I’ve had my doubts.
Olympic boxing has long been dodgy. Roy Jones losing a gold medal fight to a home fighter at the Seoul Olympics is one of the worst sporting decisions of all time, but lessons weren’t learnt. Some judges were sent packing from the last Olympics for making bizarre decisions.
Of course boxing fans are also to blame. When they happily fork out a fortune to watch a circus act like Conor McGregor take on a world great like Floyd Mayweather, they can have no complaints about getting fleeced for legitimate fights which turn out to have completely unsatisfactory endings.
When they buy the hype ahead of a fight between two foul-mouthed, punch-drunk ordinary fighers like Tony Bellew and David Haye they forfeit the right to sympathy.
No doubt Alvarez and Golovkin will fight again. No doubt it will be a roaring financial success, but one day the public will tire of this particular charade.
If the result of the biggest fights can’t be trusted, boxing becomes anothe form of WWE wrestling. It will become an entertainment form rather than a sporting contest.
That’s a shame for the great fighters of the past. The likes of Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard face having their legacy ruined by incompetent judges and by an executive more interested in dollars than their sport’s reputation.