Watching last night's junior middleweight championship tilt was a bit like watching Brooklyn Decker prance around in a bikini in slow motion, only to vomit all over herself.
On the surface, it was an excellent give-and-take scrap, pitting the slick boxer against the aggressive boxer/puncher. The keys to success belonged to the fighter who could impose his style on the other man. The result of the contrast in styles led to a compelling battle that saw surges and stumbles from both combatants.
In the end, the judges preferred Canelo Alvarez's harder, more accurate punches to the rapid fire attack of Austin Trout. Viewers were treated to a more multi-dimensional Alvarez than we've seen before. He was forced to use his underrated boxing skills and head movement to blunt the constant jabbing of the southpaw Austin Trout, while relishing at times in the role of counter-puncher. The result was a more well-rounded Alvarez than the straight-forward brawling style we've become accustomed to seeing. Bottom line: We knew he could fight, but this kid can BOX.
Trout, for his part, boxed brilliantly for long stretches of the fight. He seemed to befuddle Alvarez with his movement and punching angles. He utilized his size advantage to give him the biggest edge for much of the fight—distance.
Time and again we'd watch Alvarez fling a jab and then follow with a massive right hand, only to come up just short of his mark. This is a testament to Trout's ring intelligence and southpaw style. Trout proved something else to the boxing world; the guy has heart. He made one of the few mistakes he made all night early in the seventh round when he bit on a feint from Alvarez and ate a straight right hand he never saw coming. He fought the rest of the round with his legs in terrible shape and not only stayed upright, but eventually took control of the round.
It was this Juan Manuel Marquez-type recuperating power that may have impressed observers the most. A fighter can endear himself to the public quickly by having the heart to rise and fight on. This display, coupled with his obvious skill and difficult style will make him a problem for any fighter in the 154-160 pound range. Trout may not have home run power, but he can certainly take a shot and survive.
Who should Canelo Alvarez fight next?
On such a huge night for boxing, with a massive crowd cheering nearly every second of the fight, the invariable head-scratching that occurs in nearly every fight becomes even more glaring, and even more magnified. Judge at ringside Stanley Christodoulou's ghastly score of 118-109 for Alvarez sticks out as badly as the dreadful card judge Pierre Benoist turned in for the first Sergio Martinez/Paul Williams fight.
Don't let Trout's calm and controlled demeanor after the fight fool you; that card was an abomination and underscores everything that is awful in boxing. A close win for either fighter would have been a fair call; this reeked of brutal incompetence or worse...
How on this earth a supposedly trained and competent judge could see fit to give Trout two clean rounds is horrifying. The point is made even more bizarre by the fact that he saw fit to score the seventh a 10-9 round for Alvarez, instead of 10-8 like the other two judges. Somehow, he gave credit to Trout for winning the rest of the seventh round after the knockdown, but almost no credit otherwise.
The other issue with the fight was the needless utilization of the WBC's god-awful open-scoring system, in which the fighters are made aware of the judges scores after the fourth and eighth rounds. In this case, a fight that seemed extremely close to the majority of the writers, commentators, and fans, was revealed to be a blowout for Alvarez after round eight. This not only caused Trout to change his style and attack, which is out of the ordinary for him, but it allowed Alvarez to put it in cruise control, especially in the championship rounds. How the implementation of this rule helps boxing in any way is beyond this writer.
The terrible scorecard and the open scoring system tainted an otherwise fantastic night for the sport. Even referee Lawrence Cole, who is usually either snoring or somewhere in the 10th row during fights, had a good night. Regardless of the politics, it luckily didn't take any stock away from Alvarez o rTrout.
Both have big things ahead of them. For Trout, he could attempt to make a run at the middleweight division, or stay at 154 and be considered the favorite against any opponent not nicknamed Cinnamon. As for Alvarez, he seems destined for the brightest and biggest lights boxing has to offer, including a shot at the biggest spotlight of all: A shot at Floyd Mayweather.