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In Defence Of Adalaide Byrd: One Of Boxing’s Better Judges 

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You’re only as good as your last fight.

In the days following the hotly disputed Canelo-Golovkin result, Adalaide Byrd has found that the oldest of boxing clichés applies not only to the sport’s competitors, but also its officials. A bombardment of abuse has been thrown at the Nevada judge since Saturday, including nasty personal insults and sweeping allegations of corruption, following her 118-110 scorecard in favour of the sport’s main Mexican attraction, Saul Alvarez.

We’ve all been there; a judge turns in a card massively at odds with our own so we roll out the Dale Gribble conspiracies. Jamie McDonnell’s most recent victory in Monaco springs to mind, as does Paul Williams’ shocker over Erislandy Lara. Unfortunately for Byrd, it was boxing’s fight of the year she happened to see differently to the majority of its viewers.

For what it’s worth, I picked and backed GGG pre-fight but had Alvarez winning. I preferred his ability to move and make Golovkin miss while landing the cleaner power shots, over his opponent’s relentless yet, in my eyes, one dimensional pressure. But if I’d liked the Kazakh’s work, would I too be screaming foul play?

Writers and podcast hosts have gone in strong on the Vegas judge this week. In his Daily Telegraph article, British journalist Gareth A Davies described Byrd as having a ‘reputation for debatable scoring’, referencing four previous gigs. These included two MMA bouts, Hopkins over Calzaghe from nearly a decade ago (many had B-Hop winning), and Canelo-Khan, in which, ironically, she had the ginger-Latino trailing, until he turned Amir’s lights out.

Hardly concrete evidence, Gaz.

On closer inspection, Byrd appears to be one of the game’s ballsier scorers. Here are five of her previous decisions that nobody argued with:

Darleys Perez v Maurice Hooker: On the undercard of last year’s Ward-Kovalev I, Rocnation looked to showcase their undefeated fringe contender Hooker on the big stage. A rejuvenated Perez had other ideas, using his experience to land clean counters and dominate exchanges throughout. Twitter cried robbery at a split decision draw that preserved Hooker’s ‘0’, with Byrd’s 97-93 for Perez applauded.

Miguel Vazquez v Mickey Bey: in a horribly messy bout that supported the 2014 Mayweather-Maidana fight, it could be argued that neither fighter deserved their hand raising. Judge Julie Lederman just edged Bey, while Robert Hoyle favoured the Floyd fighter heavily with an extremely wide 119-109 card. Byrd went 115-113 for defending champion Vasquez, once again opposing the promoter’s horse in the race, who happened to be the headlining Mayweather.

• Kell Brook v Shawn Porter: Another scrappy affair that saw visitor Brook, somewhat surprisingly, gain a split decision victory on American soil to capture his first world title. Porter, then a Golden Boy fighter, went down 116-112 on Byrd’s card. An interesting verdict, considering the Oscar De La Hoya collusion theories following last weekend’s action.

• Kell Brook v Errol Spence Jr: If not for Spence’s 11th round barrage, we may have been heading for a controversial split decision at Bramall Lane earlier this year. Brit Dave Parris had an alarmingly close 95-94 going into the deciding round, yet Byrd had it widest and closer to common consensus, 97-92 to the challenger Spence at the time of the stoppage.

Richar Abril v Brandon Rios: In what many writers viewed as 2012’s worst decision, Adelaide Byrd was again on the right side of history. It was the elusive, fleet-footed work of Cuban Abril that dominated the action in the eyes of, what seemed to be, every fight fan. Then Gerry Roth and Glenn Towbridge’s cards were announced, favouring Rios’ plodding aggression. Both fighters were under the Top Rank banner at the time, yet Rios was the undefeated, more entertaining and marketable employee. Byrd had it 117-111 for Abril.

There’s no denying corruption takes place in boxing. The examples above, as well as demonstrating Byrd’s competency, show potential skulduggery from her colleagues. In a sport where scoring is completely subjective due to a sliding emphasis on skills, there will always be disputed decisions. The fact that the 10-point-must system means a close competitive fight can still deliver a landslide victory is a whole separate conversation, and article.

Going in to Saturday, Golovkin fans feared their man needed a knockout to guarantee victory. The 118-110 scorecard instantly stoked pre-fight pessimism, yet throughout her career, Adelaide Byrd has shown a pattern of preferring the skills of counter punchers over aggressors. She’s never been scared to give the nod against the sport’s most powerful promoters and has even given interviews on occasion. A judge, on camera. Imagine that?

Boxing scoring has always been ‘what you like’, yet there’s been nothing to like about Byrd’s abusive post-fight treatment. Sure, officials can help themselves by being more accessible before and after bouts. A re-evaluation of how we score fights is long overdue, too. But the boxing consumer must realise not every outcome will match their preferred fighting style. Like any business, money can corrupt, regardless of the promotional name on the ring apron. At times, we need to show a little more respect for the judges sat beside it, especially when, like Adalaide Byrd, they’ve earnt their ringside spot.

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