Bad Judging in Close Fights: A View Through the Kaleidoscope

First things first. This was a good fight. This was an entertaining fight. This was a close fight. And this was a fight with a great atmosphere.

I had Trout winning 114-113. But it was a close fight. By my rough recollection, I thought rounds 2 and 3 (which I gave to Trout) were close. Round 7 could have been 10-9 but I gave it 10-8 to Canelo, and Round 8 likewise I gave to Canelo but could easily see for Trout. Swinging all those rounds to Canelo = 115-112 Canelo, which was the narrowest of the official cards. All to Trout means 116-112 Trout, which was about the widest scoring I saw for Trout. So I have no problem with the outcome.

What makes me upset, and what makes a lot of people upset, is the sense that Trout lost the minute this fight was signed to occur in the state of Texas. The 118-109 card was ludicrous. It was a farce. It was disgraceful. And it was utterly predictable. This is what happens in Texas. Everybody knows it. This was a close fight, and Austin Trout was not going to win a close fight.

The reason many people are upset with Trout losing isn't because he was "robbed". It was because they didn't think that the fight was "judged" in a meaningful sense. In this it was very similar to Malignaggi/Diaz I, which also was a legitimately close fight -- overshadowed by the fact that the judging was so horrendous the actual fight part felt irrelevant to the outcome. People's emotions are running hot, but the objection isn't (or shouldn't be) the destination, it's the predestination.

So that's me in peacemaker mode (everyone can unite around hatred of Texas!). How about I rile things up a little bit? Everyone is all "don't take anything away from Canelo, it's not his fault how the fight was scored." And the latter part of that is true, of course. But in our rush to absolve Alvarez for what isn't his fault, I think we might be too quick to heap praise on what was entirely in his hands. I'm going to come out and say it: I wasn't exactly blown away by Canelo Alvarez tonight. Don't get me wrong: he didn't fight a bad fight. And he was to my lights even-steven with a top, prime 154 pound fighter. So that's good. And for most 22 year olds I'd say that's actually quite impressive.

But for where Canelo Alvarez is in his career -- talked about as a Mayweather opponent, Ring Magazine champion at junior middleweight -- I have to judge him by a higher standard. And I think (Texas curve aside) Canelo was lucky to do as well as he did. Alvarez looked confused, even flummoxed at times by Trout's jab. He was not very active, often took his foot off the gas, and rarely threw in combinations. His conditioning did not look to be 100%. He certainly did not, for the most part, fight at the distance and tempo that he would have preferred.

The typical round tonight was controlled by Trout's jab. Jab jab jab jab jab. That set the tempo for the round, and then the question became could Alvarez land enough of the harder shots (there was no question Canelo was the harder puncher) to overcome the baseline. Often enough the answer was yes, and Canelo stole quite a few rounds that way. But those rounds often felt more like Trout's to lose than Canelo's to win. Had Trout put more of a stamp on the rounds with power shots, he could have cleaned up on my card. Put another way, in many rounds I felt like Trout could have done more, and that Alvarez was doing all he could. When that combination yields a close round, that's a problem for Alvarez.

People say both fighters' stock rose after tonight. I'm unconvinced. Alvarez was and remains a megastar -- he would have held that status even if he had lost. In terms of my overall assessment, he stays right where he is: a very good fighter and a legitimate world champion, but shy of the true tip-top elite. And as for Trout, well, he demonstrated he could hang with Canelo. But he still doesn't have a big promoter (though he does have Al Haymon) and I can't imagine a ton of people are scrambling to face him. His career arc strikes me as being very Winky Wright-esque -- he'll be known as a top fighter in the division, but he often won't get the call for a big fight unless an A-side demands him.

It's unfortunate that tonight ends on such a dissatisfying note, because it really was a good fight and it really wasn't a robbery. The "Texas special" element is disconcerting and I hope (in vain) that something will be done about the shadow Texas casts over American boxing. And I hope we see Trout and Alvarez again (I guess Alvarez probably doesn't need my hope), because they're both really good. But are they, based on tonight's performance, pound-for-pound, Mayweather-opponent calibur? I don't think so.

<strong><font color="red">FanPosts are user-created content written by community members of Bad Left Hook, and are generally not the work of our editors. <em>Please do not source FanPosts as the work of Bad Left Hook</em>.</font></strong>

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