In an otherwise exceptional year for boxing, suspect judging continued to affect the sport’s credibility. In a subjective sport such as boxing, controversy will always take a front seat when picking apart the year. Let’s see what has made our top ten in 2017…
10. Sergey Kovalev claims low blows led to early TKO stoppage against Andre Ward
Controversy followed these two from their first meeting in 2016. After a near shutout in the first half of the fight, Sergey Kovalev (31-2-1) succumbed to Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) in the eighth round of their Las Vegas rematch in June. Ward wobbled a fading Kovalev with a vicious right hook and followed up with a barrage of body shots to earn the TKO. At least three of those punches were low blows that veteran referee Tony Weeks should have stopped and taken a point from Ward.
9. Anthony Joshua’s early stoppage against Carlos Takam
In his first defense since securing an epic victory Wladimir Klitschko, Anthony Joshua took on mandatory challenger Carlos Takam (35-4-1). Joshua overcame a broken nose courtesy of an inadvertent Takam headbutt to retain his two heavyweight title belts though not without a fair amount of scrutiny.
Takam, a late replacement opponent at 12 days notice after Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev injured a shoulder, took on a considerable amount of damage throughout the fight. A deep gash above Takam’s right eye and lack of activity caused referee Phil Edwards to step between the two men in the 10th causing Takam to immediately protest. Joshua’s record stands at 20-0 with 20 KOs. This one is more of a “controversy-light” in the respect that the result was inevitable.
8. Antonio Margarito’s B.S. technical decision over Carson Jones
Throughout the course of his career, Antonio Margarito (41-8, 27 KO) has had his fair share of puzzling boxing outcomes. His September TKO against Carson Jones (40-12-3, 30 KO) was just the most recent. Margarito was exasperated. The 39-year-old appeared to quit on his stool in the seventh round. Somehow referee, Ricardo Manjarrez, called for a technical decision due to a cut on Margarito’s eye- the result of a headbutt suffered in the fifth round. Judges’ cards reflected 68-64 and 67-65 x2.
7. Badou Jack loses bid against James DeGale to become unified super middleweight champion
Sometimes boxing comes down to the first and last punch. Everything in between becomes a cautionary tale if left to judges’ decisions. In the January 2017 opener to a thrilling slate of boxing, Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY, was home to a heavily battered and broken James DeGale (23-2-1) in his world super middleweight unification title match with Badou Jack (22-1-2). DeGale floored Jack in the first and then went on to suffer broken teeth, a busted eardrum and several shoulder injuries requiring surgery. To add an exclamation point, the Floyd Mayweather promoted Jack put DeGale down in the waning seconds of the 12th.
The Londoner, DeGale, was scored 114-112 on one of the judges’ cards with the other two rendering the result 113-113. Both fighters kept their titles.
6. Tyson Fury accepts backdated two-year doping ban
On December 13, 2017, the UK Anti-Doping Organization (UKAD) cleared former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) along with cousin and fellow heavyweight Hughie Fury to resume boxing competition. Fury had been under investigation by UKAD since June 2016, after he tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone in February 2015. Fury has not fought since he stunned Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.
Fury will still have to reapply for his British Boxing Board of Control license, which was revoked after he admitted to cocaine use last year. According to his own camp, Fury suffered from mental health issues and would be “unavailable for the foreseeable future” resulting in the cancellation of the Klitschko rematch. Steroid use, admitted cocaine addiction and the very serious underling mental health struggles don’t amount to a lot of confidence in the subsequent boxing career for the former holder of the WBA, IBF and WBO belts.
5. Sor Rungvisai upset decision over Roman Gonzalez
In a contender for bloodiest fight of the year, Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KOs) carried the first half and was steady in the middle. Despite being out punched decisively, with Gonzalez landing 441 to 284, Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 38 KOs) got the surprise majority decision against the then undefeated, four-division champion to capture the WBC 115lbs super flyweight title. Judges scored the fight 114-112 x2 and 113-113.
Even with cuts sustained via accidental headbutts, the fight would’ve been more accurate at 114-112 in favor of Gonzalez. Apparently, there’s a WBC rule that calls for a point deduction if a fighter sustains a cut by way of an accidental headbutt. It’s an obscure rule rarely used in the United States.
Not only did Gonzalez fall short of his goal of a 50-0 career record, the 29-year-old Nicaraguan lost the rematch to Rungvisai, whose alternate name is Wisaksil Wangek, via a brutal KO in September.
4. Nevada Boxing Commission sanctions Mayweather vs McGregor
Nevada Athletic Commission director Bob Bennett confirmed MMA champion Conor McGregor was approved to face the most successful boxer of this generation, 49-0 Floyd Mayweather. In its very mission statement, the Commission declares, “The Commission administers the State laws and regulations governing unarmed combat for the protection of the public and to ensure the health and safety of the contestants.” McGregor, who was (0,0) as a boxer would seem to qualify as needing said protection.
The inevitable August win by Mayweather was nothing more than a money grabbing spectacle. Previously, the commission opted not to sanction a fight between Andre Ward and Rohan Murdock because of what it called a “disparity in their skill levels.” Ward was then super middleweight champion, and Murdock was 18-1 and ranked No. 6 in the world by the World Boxing Organization.
So, given all of this, why would Mayweather-McGregor be sanctioned? To quote the great poets Wu Tang Clan, “Cash, Rules, Everything, Around, Me. C.R.E.A.M. Get the money. Dollar, dollar bill y’all.”
3. Hassan N’Dam vs Ryota Murata judges suspended
Frenchman Hassan N‘Dam (36-3-0) took the vacant World Boxing Association middleweight title in Tokyo despite being knocked out by Japan’s Ryota Murata and being outclassed for the majority of the fight. The WBA subsequently suspended Panama’s Gustavo Padilla and Canadian Hubert Earle, for six months over their scoring which lead to a split decision.
The two judges saw N’Dam win the May bout 116-112 and 115-113. The third had Murata up 117-110.
2. Jeff Horn scores shock upset of Manny Pacquiao
In a stunning upset, hometown hero Jeff Horn’s rugged style inclusive of head butting and minor league wrestling, led to a unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium, Australia.
Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs), captured the WBO welterweight title. The senator from the Philippines clearly lagged in his usual pace and pressure by most accounts did just enough to gain a decision. In perhaps the most inexperienced title fight judging panel of the year, Waleska Roldan had it 117-111, and judges Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan both went 115-113 for Horn. ESPN.com scored the fight 117-111 for Pacquiao. Ringside analyst, Teddy Atlas, went ballistic on the official score cards. He had it 116-111 for Pacquiao.
The next day Lou DiBella told Sports Illustrated, “Three sixth graders who had never seen a fight before would have been more accurate.” Pacquiao’s longtime trainer, Freddie Roach, called for Roldan to be investigated. Even more peculiar, venerable ESPN boxing analyst Dan Rafael had never heard of judge Chris Flores. How this panel was assembled for such a high calibre fight remains a mystery.
This one was a travesty, folks.
1. Gennady Golovkin draws with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
Two words… Adalaide Byrd.
A despicable scorecard of 118-110 in favour of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez marred the boxing spectacle of the year and resulted in ‘Supremacy’ ending in a draw. We await the rematch in 2018…
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