Not even C.J. Ross can save the budding rivalry between Floyd Mayweather and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. It's dead, left lying on the floor of the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas after a supposed prizefight Saturday night that can only be classified as disappointing.
Mayweather walked away with his 45th consecutive arm-raising, having won 117-111, 116-112, 114-114 in a shocking majority decision. The fact that Mayweather won was no surprise; even Canelo Alvarez himself wouldn't dare think he won that fight.
The shock came from Ms. Ross, whose incomprehensible card frankly robbed Mayweather of his rightful unanimous decision. I scored the fight 117-111 in favor of Mayweather, and thought at times that I was favoring the young challenger too much. That the inherent need for a close fight overcame what was actually happening inside the ring.
Giving Alvarez three rounds—I gave him Nos. 3, 5 and 12—felt like a nice consolation prize for 36 minutes of getting his face jabbed to death.
I have no idea what in the blue hell Ross was watching. Her penchant for strange decision-making at the judges' table is well-documented—she was one of the two who scored last June's Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight in favor of Bradley. To avoid belaboring the point and beating a horse that will already have died eight proverbial deaths by publication, we'll move on from discussing the particulars of her decision.
Let's just say we watch the sport a different way.
What will be interesting to see in the next couple days is what trickle-down effect Ross' controversial decision has. The blogosphere, social media and what have you will cover this to death over the next three or four days. If you don't know whether Ross likes Raisin Bran or Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast by sunrise, I'll be thoroughly disappointed in my friends at Media Takeout.
But controversy is the lifeblood of boxing. The sport has thrived for years by taking WWE-like contrived scenarios and turning them into billion-dollar enterprises. Couldn't the folks at Golden Boy Promotions somehow spin the inanity of one person's decision into a second fight?
I suppose it'd be possible; it'd also be a terrible idea.
There's a saying in our TMZified, reality television culture that any attention is good attention. If you're making headlines, even for the worst of reasons, you'll stay relevant and in the limelight longer.
And in that way, I suppose Mayweather-Alvarez fits the bill. It's the boxing equivalent of a celebrity attacking a member of the paparazzi or being pictured fall-down drunk at a nightclub.
However, the controversy around Ross' decision isn't going to get us tuning into your next Lifetime movie. It's going to get us talking about just how thoroughly Mayweather outclassed his opponent yet again and have us kicking ourselves for springing the extra $10 for the high-definition pay-per-view package.
Controversy in boxing is good—unless that controversy gets you talking about how bad the first fight was when talking about a rematch.
Perhaps that's a little unfair, especially to Mayweather. At age 36, the man may never have been better than he was on Saturday night.
It was yet another display of tactical genius. He mixed in striking jabs to the face, solid straight-right combinations and even threw in solid uppercuts to the jaw and body. While his hand speed and quickness may be starting to show the slightest signs of slippage, the man's mind is still one of the five greatest we've seen in the sport's history.
Make no mistake; fans walked away from MGM Grand appreciating Floyd Mayweather's greatness. It's why, after a night of being jarringly pro-Alvarez, that the entire capacity crowd began voicing their displeasure when Ross' 114-114 score was read aloud. Fans may not love Floyd Mayweather, but they damn sure respect him.
As for Alvarez, those boos from the crowd are also telling. We spent so much time in the pre-fight buildup touting him as the next face of boxing, that just about all pundits failed to recognize that this was a 23-year-old fighter taking about eight leaps up in class from any other bout he's ever had.
From the outset it was clear Alvarez just wasn't ready.
Rather than go out with his guns blazing, so to speak, Alvarez was far more conservative than anyone expected. He opened the fight trying to hit crosses and hooks to the body, to methodically wear down Money over the course of 12 rounds.
The most interesting thing he did the entire fight was brazenly disrespect the man stringing him with jabs. Alvarez hit Mayweather with a low blow, refused to touch gloves and showed absolutely no sign of adoration to the man across the ring. During the pre-fight presser, it felt refreshing; Saturday it looked more like a scared kid acting tough in front of his friends.
Somewhere inside the sweat-drenched ring, Ross apparently thought she saw the future of boxing. The one person who is not only talented enough but performed well enough to finally give Floyd Mayweather his first blemish.
Her fellow judges and all the fans at the MGM Grand saw the real picture. They saw one of the greatest fighters the sport has ever seen doing what he has 44 other times, picking apart their weaknesses and building a steel-lock defensive halo around his body.
It was, after so much hype, just another typical Floyd fight. No mistaken judge is going to taint that. And that's why there won't (and shouldn't) be a rematch.
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