Saturday night, the boxing world rejoiced and yelled collectively “boxing is not dead!” on a historic night for the sport. Whether it is or isn’t dead, or one day may be, is irrelevant. On the night of September 14, 2013, it was alive and kicking (or punching). Both casual and hardcore fans were on the same page for one of the few times of the year as boxing’s pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather Jr., took on one of the most popular fighters in the sport today and possibly his toughest opponent in recent years, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Supported by an excellent co-main event that could easily have been a main event on any other card, the pay-per-view came with a hefty price tag. But when I noticed that the rounds seemed to fly by, I realized how much I truly was enjoying the card – for a change. So with that being said, let’s get to my reaction for the pay-per-view card.
The opener featured a solid welterweight battle between a young yet experienced Pablo Cesar Cano (27-3-1 20KO) and English transplant Ashley Theophane (33-6-1 10KO). These two agreed to take on one another at a contracted catch weight of 142lbs, as they both intend to make a run at 140lbs in the near future. The bout started out a bit slow but with Cano clearly taking the lead. Cano stunned Theophane badly with a powerful right hand in the fifth round; however, as soon Cano went in for the kill, Theophane rocked him with a left hook. That was as close as the fight got, as Cano began to pulling away in the latter rounds. Just as before, Theophane made it clear that he wasn’t finished and rallied to get himself back into the bout. Ultimately, Cano earned the victory via mildly controversial split decision.
This bout was fun to watch. Although not overly entertaining, it was still refreshing to see Cano’s underrated boxing skills put on display on what was arguably boxing biggest stage this year. But above that, the acknowledgement of that underrated skill by the Showtime commentators was definitely a highlight of that bout.
Next we had the snoozer of the evening as boxing’s version of Rodney Dangerfield, “King” Carlos Molina (22-5-1 6KO), took on the first and only Las Vegas-born champion Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith (25-6-11KO) for Smith’s IBF Junior middleweight title. Smith defeated Cornelius “K9” Bundrage back in February of this year to earn his world title, and was set to defend it for the first time against Molina. There really were no highlights to this bout, as the action in the ring lulled the crowd to the point where they didn’t care to cheer for any particular fighter, although Smith was the homegrown favorite. They exchanged semi-sloppy combinations with neither fighter gaining a clear advantage, at least in the eyes of everyone except the judges. Although I am not an ardent fan of either fighter, I have seen better performances by them respectively. However, what transpired on Saturday night was simply not one of them. After 12 rounds of – dare I say – action, Molina came away with the IBF title in his first title shot via split decision, marking the second straight split decision of the pay-per-view card.
This bout wasn’t exactly setting me on fire, considering how well these two combatants have looked previously. Nonetheless, there’s a reason the saying is “styles makes fights”, and in this instance, their styles did make this fight, it made it a snoozefest.
The juiciest bout of the pay-per-view lineup was the co-main event, and it was up next. This one was for the legitimate (lineal) junior welterweight championship of the world as undefeated champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (27-0 16KO) took on the toughest challenge of his world title reign in Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse (34-3 32KO). As I mentioned before, this bout could easily have been a main event on another card, even a PPV on its own, just to give you an idea of how much buzz was generated when this bout was officially signed. The fact that it was added as a co-main event to the biggest PPV of the year made this weekend’s card exponentially bigger. These two combatants went back and forth in a very tactical and high-intensity bout. It wasn’t a rock em’-sock em’ type affair ala Rios/Alvarado, but when they connected on one another, you could hear the shots land. The commentators made it a point to acknowledge how loud the shots sounded when they landed, flush or not.
Garcia used a rather ugly yet effective clinch-centric and low blow-heavy game plan and tied Matthysse up any time his back was against the ropes or Matthysse closed the distance. He unloaded his own combinations as well, causing Matthysse’s right eye to swell midway into the fight. Garcia was able to absorb all of Matthysse’s shots, which was not expected leading up to the bout. Matthysse had built an intimidating reputation of being a heavy hitter. He had compiled 20 knockdowns in his nine fights, and therefore it was said Garcia would wilt when he felt Matthysse’s power, but on this night that was not the case. Garcia started off rather slow but came on strong in the later rounds, and the unanimous decision solidified his status as the number one junior welterweight in the world.
This fight was definitely the highlight of the night. It was a closely contested bout between two of the best 140 pounders in the sport and it lived up the hype. Matthysse was built as Garcia’s toughest opponent to date and, even in coming up short against Garcia, he proved that he belonged amongst the elite of his division.
And then there was one… well, one last bout of the night of course – the main event that was booked as “The One”. Rather than to go into details about to what happened in this bout, which I’m sure everyone can guess how it went down, I’m going to jump right into my reaction to the fight. No protests here, as Floyd Mayweather Jr. (45-0 25KO) handily defeated Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-1 30KO) by controlling the younger Alvarez throughout the 12-round bout. It must be said that the specific type of decision in which Floyd took home the victory will forever be shrouded in confusion. It’ll go down in the books as a majority decision, meaning one judge actually scored this bout a draw. CJ Ross scored the bout 114-114, or six rounds to six, judge Dave Moretti scored the bout 116-112, or eight rounds to four, and lastly, judge Craig Metcalfe scored the contest 117-111, or nine rounds to three, both winning scores for Mayweather. Now, after carefully dissecting the scorecards, I found a few interesting yet alarming facts.
CJ Ross, who scored the bout a draw, had the fight six rounds to six. Out of those six rounds, four of them mirrored at least one of the other judges’ scorecards for that same round. In other words, she was entirely alone in scoring the rounds for Canelo in only two out of those six rounds (rounds one and eight). The other four matched at least one of the two judges’ score for that round. A little less wacky of a decision when you look at it that way I would say. For now, let’s remove Ross’ scorecard out of the equation and concentrate on the other two judges’ scorecards. Metcalfe scored the bout 117-111 or nine rounds to three, meaning he scored only three rounds for Canelo. Moretti scored the fight 116-112 or eight rounds to four, meaning he scored only four rounds for Canelo. Between these two judges’ scorecards, they scored a total of seven rounds to Canelo. However, when taking a look at their scorecards, I was floored to find that out of those seven Canelo rounds, they only agreed on one round, round twelve. Meaning, between them, they scored six completely different rounds for Canelo, rounds two, three, nine, ten, eleven and twelve, with them only agreeing on round twelve.
Let’s reintroduce Ross’ scorecard, where she scored rounds one and eight for Canelo. Between these three judges, they scored a total of eight completely different rounds for Canelo: rounds one, two, three, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve. Does anyone else see the absurdity in all of this? If these three judges saw a combined eight rounds for Canelo, then it is conceivable that a given judge could potentially have seen this fight as a 116-112 or eight rounds to four win for Canelo. I cannot even begin to fathom the utter chaos and pandemonium that could’ve ensued at the MGM Grand Garden Saturday night had Canelo eked out a decision victory with one of those scorecards reading eight rounds to four.
Ultimately, the right boxer won and that’s really all that matters. But the thought that because of this impotent scoring by judges who seem to following different scoring criteria, we could’ve seen the first loss on the record of one the best, if not the best, professional boxer of our time. It’s occasions like these that one can understand why boxing is in the state that it is, where boxing pay-per-views are ridiculously over-priced, only to see boxers who care more about their bank account balances than really proving who is the best in their division.