Having concern over the athletic commissions’ appointments of judges and referees is nothing new in combat sports. From an MMA perspective, Jon Jones wasn’t too keen on John McCarthy reffing his (obviously cancelled) UFC 200 rematch with Daniel Cormier, but the Nevada Athletic Commission appointed him anyway.
In the world of boxing, with the big Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) vs. Nicholas Walters (30-0-1, 24 KOs) showdown just two days away, executives at Top Rank, which promotes both fighters, have voiced their concern over the appointment of a judge who’s well known to both boxing and MMA fans. Top Rank VP of Boxing Operations, Carl Moretti, told BoxingScene that the promotion requested to the Nevada Athletic Commission that Adalaide Byrd not be one of the ringside judges for this fight, but they didn’t get their wish granted.
“We respectfully requested that Adalaide Byrd not be assigned to this fight,” Moretti said. “From there it went on to a conversation [with NSAC executive director Bob Bennett] about how she is a good judge. Some judges can have good nights and can have bad nights. But when she has bad nights, she seems to be too far away from the score. Bob defended her left and right. He didn’t wanna listen to our objection.”
Byrd has a bit of a reputation for turning in ... interesting scorecards, whether in MMA or boxing. Some of her notable moments include:
- Awarding Leonard Garcia a completely baffling 29-28 victory over Nam Phan in their first meeting in 2010, which Garcia won by split decision.
- Turning in a 30-27 scorecard in favor of Melvin Guillard against Jamie Varner, who wound up winning the fight on the strength of the other two judges scoring it 30-27 for him.
- Scoring a 10-round shutout win for Jose Benavidez Jr. over Francisco Santana this past July, when most observers (and the other two judges) had it considerably closer than that.
- Scoring Gerald Washington a 97-93 winner over Amir Mansour in October 2015, which led to a split draw outcome that was seemingly a win for Mansour.
- Having Jessie Magdaleno up 118-110 in his unanimous decision win over Nonito Donaire on the undercard of this month’s Pacquiao vs. Vargas pay-per-view. It was perceived as an extremely wide scorecard for an otherwise close fight with a clear winner.
The Benavidez-Santana and Magdaleno-Donaire were among several boxing matches cited by Moretti when they objected to Byrd being on Lomachenko-Walters. Alas, no dice for them, and Moretti ripped into the NAC for the process they’ve put in place.
“The whole process kind of feels like a joke because the Nevada commission sends out lists of officials and asks if you object to them,” Moretti said. “Then, when you object to them, you have to provide written documentation as to why. And when I did provide documentation of several scores she was off on and fights she was off on, he rejected that. So I said, ‘Well, then what’s the purpose of going through this whole process and wasting everybody’s time? If you ask for written documentation and don’t wanna read what’s in front of you or you don’t wanna believe it, what’s the point?’ We got into a heated discussion. It’s sort of like, ‘We’re here to preserve democracy, but not practice it.’ ”
For the record, the other judges on Lomachenko vs. Walters are Burt Clements and Glenn Trowbridge, both of whom had Andre Ward narrowly defeating Sergey Kovalev by a 114-113 scoreline in last week’s HBO PPV main event.
While Lomachenko has won his last 3 fights by KO, his 2014 126 lbs world title win over Gary Russell Jr. did have an odd 114-114 draw turned in by Lisa Giampa, which made a fairly obvious win seem more close than it actually was. As for Walters, the lone non-win on his record came in his last fight against current WBA “regular” 130 lbs champion Jason Sosa, whom he fought to a majority draw in upstate New York. The one judge who didn’t score it a draw had it for Sosa, which was more indefensible than the already indefensible draw scores conjured up by the other judges. Oh, boxing.
Bloody Elbow will have live, round-by-round coverage of Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Nicholas Walters on Saturday, November 26th. The card airs live on HBO Boxing, with the broadcast kicking off at 10:35 PM ET. For more boxing coverage, check out Bad Left Hook.