48 hours after Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin ended in a split (and deserved) draw, prolonging their battle to be the face of the sport for at least another night, we still aren’t talking about the ramifications of what happened or even about how good of a fight it was. We are still fuming over judge Adalaide Byrd’s horrendous and egregious 118-110 scorecard for Alvarez that isn’t even feasible for even the most generous of judges. Byrd’s scorecard comes as an extreme outlier that has drawn the ire of the boxing collective who is demanding retribution for her incompetence; a situation we know all too well and sadly, we know how it ends.
Byrd is no stranger to controversy, frequently turning in bad enough scorecards where her competency and ethics can become an unnecessary talking point. Whether it was giving Bernard Hopkins the win over Joe Calzaghe, thinking Austin Trout pitched a near shutout against Miguel Cotto, giving Adrien Broner more credit than he deserved against Shawn Porter or making sure Jesse Magdaleno was well ahead of Nonito Donaire, there is no method her madness. Last weekend, Byrd found ten rounds to score for Alvarez in a fight where he only clearly won three at best, was retreating to the ropes in full fatigue from round five to nine and was a punching bag up until a furious rally in the championship rounds saved him.
Byrd has demonstrated a stunning lack of understanding of what goes on in the ring despite being a judge in hundreds of fights, a shocking surprise considering her husband, Robert Byrd, is one of boxing’s most well known and respected referees. At one point, Top Rank petitioned the Nevada State Athletic Commission against her appointment as a judge for Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Nicholas Walters, which fell on deaf ears by the commission and appointed her anyway. Even though the running thought is that her scorecards are up the highest bidder, it is just as likely that she’s just so bad at her job and easy to exploit that she keeps getting these top assignments.
Which brings us to her most ardent defender thus far, NSAC executive director Bob Bennett, who has probably been enjoying all the attention he’s received over the course of the past few months.
Last June on the Ward/Kovalev II card, Bennett was put on the spot by HBOs Jim Lampley as he actively tried to convince Bennett that Rigondeaux should have been disqualified for a shot that came way after the bell against Moises Flores. Bennett fumbled and bumbled under Lampley’s glistening skin, no doubt perspiring with the hopes that he could hang an “L” on Rigondeaux’s record and banish him forever from HBOs networks. It was as clear as day that Rigondeaux did commit the foul in the heat of the moment, but it took several minutes for Bennett to even figure out what the hell was going on and would days later move to declare Rigondeaux/Flores a no contest.
Later that night, Bennett had to witness another controversy when Ward stopped Kovalev after a series of borderline blows. Unlike the issue with Rigondeaux, Bennett shrugged off the situation saying the blows were legal and even though I agreed with the stoppage, there was no way all of those body blows were above the belt line.
As much as I would hate to bring up Mayweather/McGregor, it is shocking that the NSAC would even sign off on such a fight considering how much tighter they’ve grown on sanctioning potential mismatches since he took over from Keith Kizer in 2014. There was an inherent danger of putting McGregor with his non-existent boxing skills against the best fighter of the last 25 years, but the money was too good to pass up and Mayweather, out of shape and two years retired, mollywopped McGregor in a beating so bad that some news outlets pondered if he suffered cerebral trauma. That may not have been the case if the NSAC decided to abide by their own rules and kept the 10oz gloves as regulated for Junior Middleweight fights instead of smaller 8oz in an 11th hour amendment, approved of course by Bennett the whole way through.
When it comes to Byrd, Bennett alone has the authority to make any punishment stick or to take any disciplinary action, but the above-mentioned incidents go to show that if what’s done is done, he’ll just let it be. As of this writing, Bennett not only stood by Byrd’s card but went on to actively defend her and may not be pursuing any action that will prevent her from getting more critical assignments like Alvarez/Golovkin. During the press conference, reporter Michael Montero took Bennett to task asking the million dollar question about what would be done about the judging problem for Bennett to give an answer so textbook that he might as well have rolled his eyes and said “no further questions” before huddling away.
So now we come to the discussion we always seem to have every few months, but never hearing the end of it and that is what can be done to solve this problem? We cannot have judges that have repeatedly turned in scorecards that lead us to question whether corruption or incompetence is to blame, nor can they be shielded from scrutiny by being able to take off after a dodgy call and not having the face the music. Adding a fourth and fifth judge watching on closed circuit away from the crowd, implementing more strenuous vision and comprehension tests for judges and referees over the retirement age as well as allowing the press to have access to ringside judges could help shine a light through the murky waters. All of these could work, but only if someone higher up is willing to air out their organization’s dirty laundry, and that’s a rabbit hole nobody wants to go through.
Whether she wanted to or not, Adalaide Byrd became the big story of the weekend and she, along with the NSAC by proxy, are going to have to hear about this for the immediate future. All things considered, Byrd will probably get another assignment again but will have this hanging over her head each time she takes a seat. Then again, it might just be another case of the last time before the next time unless something gets done.