Oscar De La Hoya takes aim at 'keyboard warriors' in open letter defending Canelo Alvarez's win

Kevin IoleCombat columnist

Canelo Alvarez’s majority decision victory over Gennady Golovkin Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas wasn’t well-received by a segment of fans, who took to social media to express disgust with the verdict.

Judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld each scored the bout 115-113 for Alvarez, overruling Glenn Feldman, who saw it 114-114, thus giving Alvarez the majority decision win that made him the WBA-WBC champion. The defeat was the first of Golovkin’s career. Yahoo Sports also scored it 114-114.

It was the kind of fight bound to spark debate, and it did.

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Gennady Golovkin hits Canelo Alvarez Saturday during their rematch at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)
Gennady Golovkin hits Canelo Alvarez Saturday during their rematch at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

The controversy didn’t sit well with promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who penned an open letter defending Alvarez against all sorts of attacks.

This is the entire letter:

An Open Letter To Fight Fans from Oscar De La Hoya

 

Dear Fight Fans,

On the night of Saturday, September 15, fans were set to be treated to what sports should be all about: the two best athletes in a sport squaring off against each other with the winner earning the title of the best in the business. This kind of an event – where an individual can be called the best in any sport – is truly rare.

Not only did the fight itself deliver all that was promised, against all kinds of pressure, Canelo Alvarez gave the performance of his lifetime to secure the unified middleweight championship of the world.

And yet…

It wouldn’t be boxing if thousands of keyboard warriors weren’t talking (or tweeting) complete nonsense in the hours and days after Canelo began to cement his legacy as an all-time great fighter.

Many have told me to ignore the haters; that I’ll never win. But, while I know I won’t convince many of them, allowing them to even partly soil what was a certain Fight of the Year; a mega-event seen by millions of people; and a virtuoso performance by boxing’s marquis fighter would do a disservice to the sport I love.

So allow me to respond to a few of the more absurd comments:

Golden Boy paid the judges to fix the fight. 

Though I don’t think this deserves response, here are the facts: The three judges were chosen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Given the result of the first fight, NSAC was under a lot of scrutiny to come up with the fairest group of judges possible. For the first time I know of, Golden Boy Promotions and Team GGG were even allowed to approve a pool of judges. They saw what everyone else did; a close, competitive fight and scored it exactly that way.

Golovkin landed more punches and therefore should have won the fight.

If landed punches were the difference between winning or losing a boxing match, we would have an incredibly different and less interesting sport. Clean punching, ring generalship, effective aggressiveness and defense are what the judges are looking for in determining the winner of a round. I’m obviously a promoter, but in the four areas that actually count in judging, I can’t find one where GGG was the victor.

Tom Loeffler’s statement that he doesn’t know if Golvokin can win a decision in Las Vegas.

Perhaps Tom is just looking to make GGG feel better, but regardless this is maybe the most disappointing comment, because it comes from someone who knows the sport. Of course, GGG can win a decision in Las Vegas. But 22,000 people aren’t going to crowd into the T-Mobile Arena to watch Golovkin fight and blast out the likes of Dominic Wade, Willie Monroe, Jr., or Vanes Martirosyan. He is going to need to fight a higher level of competition – and then fight better than that opponent – to earn a victory in the mecca of boxing.

Boxing is a wonderful sport that is coming back thanks to streaming technology and growing international interest. But, it is a sport that also faces competition, not only from the outside in the form of other, more-widely watched leagues, but from inside where the fractured nature of boxing has made it tougher and tougher for the best to face the best.

Just look at celebrity row to see how special Saturday night was. There, another best-in-sport athlete, Lebron James, joined by Will Smith, Mark Wahlberg and a huge group of other A-list celebrities to witness something special.

While everyone is entitled to his or her opinion (especially in boxing), let’s take a moment to appreciate what Canelo and GGG gave us on Saturday night and work towards doing it more often for the sake of the sport we all love so much.

Inevitably, fans called the outcome corrupt. It’s frustrating to hear it, because it taints the sport and it taints the reputation of those who are accused of cheating. It is a crime and people have gone to jail for fight fixing. But De La Hoya needed to ignore it. We know several things about fans who are complaining about judges:

  • They aren’t trained as judges.

  • They are often eating, drinking, cheering and talking during the fight and don’t always focus on every second.

  • They often have favorites they’re rooting for and others they dislike.

  • They may have a wager on the fight.

  • Someone they respect — a TV announcer, a media person or another fighter — scores it for the fighter they think won.

  • No one is certain they saw the entire fight.

The fight was not fixed. Period. End of story. On that point, De La Hoya and I — and Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler and trainer Abel Sanchez — agree.

“These were three of the best judges in the world and we agreed to them,” Sanchez said. “It was a close fight. I think [Golovkin] did enough to win, but when a fight is that close, you can’t argue. They are excellent judges, all three of them, and I can’t complain.”

The conspiracy theorists point to three fights in particular — Alvarez versus Floyd Mayweather in 2013, versus Erislandy Lara in 2014 and in the first fight with Golovkin in 2017 — as being suspect. All three were held in Las Vegas, with the first two at the MGM Grand Garden and the Golovkin fight at T-Mobile Arena.

Moretti judged all three fights that are in question. He scored the Mayweather-Alvarez fight 116-112 for Mayweather. He had Alvarez defeating Lara 115-113 and in the first Golovkin fight, he had Golovkin 115-113. So in two of the three bouts that are suspect, Moretti went against Alvarez. On Saturday, he scored it 115-113 for Alvarez, with his most controversial round being the 12th, that he gave to Alvarez.

C.J. Ross had the questionable scorecard for Alvarez in the Mayweather fight, and there is no denying it was horrifically wrong. She saw a fight that Mayweather dominated as a draw, scoring it 114-114. Her peers, Moretti and Craig Metcalfe, had it 116-112 and 117-111 for Mayweather. Notably, Ross never judged again.

There wasn’t as much of an outcry about the Lara fight. Alvarez won a split decision there. Yahoo Sports and USA Today each had it 115-113 for Lara, the same as Hall of Fame judge Jerry Roth. ESPN had it 116-112 for Alvarez, which agreed with judges Levi Martinez (117-111) and Moretti (115-113).

And then in last year’s split draw with Golovkin, judge Adalaide Byrd had a ridiculously wide 118-110 scorecard in favor of Alvarez. Even Alvarez, in the build-up to the rematch with Golovkin, couldn’t defend that score. Appropriately, Byrd was suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission after the bout.

De La Hoya’s letter accuses Loeffler of saying he didn’t think Golovkin could win a decision in Las Vegas. Loeffler unquestionably did not say that on Saturday at the post-fight news conference and took the same approach as Sanchez. On Monday, Loeffler denied making the comments.

“I thought Nevada was extremely fair and did an excellent job regulating the fight,” Loeffler told Yahoo Sports on Monday. “I don’t remember saying that. I know I gave Canelo credit for the win and for the way he fought. I thought that Gennady had done enough to win, especially as the defending champion, but I did not complain about the judges and the decision.”

A BoxingScene.com story written by “Boxing Clever” quotes Loeffler making that comment, one which no one else heard.

De La Hoya also admonishes those who chastised Alvarez for his two failed drug tests, but he misses this important point: Alvarez did not definitively clear his name of the doping allegations. It’s 50-50 whether he did or didn’t and there is no conclusive proof either way. Regardless of whether you believe Alvarez’s contaminated meat excuse or not, it doesn’t change the fact that he in no way proved himself innocent.

All the letter really seems to do is to take away from Alvarez’s victory, which was hard-fought and well-earned. I believe the fight was even because I strongly believe Golovkin did enough to win the 12th, but as I noted many times on Twitter on Saturday, there were many close rounds.

The official Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez scorecard from Sept. 15, 2018. (Yahoo Sports)
The official Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez scorecard from Sept. 15, 2018. (Yahoo Sports)
Yahoo Sports columnist Kevin Iole’s scorecard from Saturday’s Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez fight in Las Vegas. (Yahoo Sports)
Yahoo Sports columnist Kevin Iole’s scorecard from Saturday’s Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez fight in Las Vegas. (Yahoo Sports)

It was a good fight and one that will probably be held again, though not necessarily next. The pay-per-view results will likely come out later this week and should be slightly over 1 million and could approach the 1.4 million the first fight did.

It was an excellent fight and it was officiated fairly. Feeding the trolls just makes them hungrier, which is why De La Hoya’s letter made so little sense. The trolls are always going to find ways to create controversy and pick and prod.

De La Hoya should have ignored them and moved on to the next big event.

Canelo Alvarez celebrates his majority decision win over Gennady Golovkin Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)
Canelo Alvarez celebrates his majority decision win over Gennady Golovkin Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

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