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Mayweather was brilliant, but boxing judge had a rope-a-dope moment

Boxing thrives on the silly, the stupid and the inept. But judging the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez fight a draw? That needs serious examination.

September 18, 2013|Bill Dwyre
  • Cynthia Ross, center, who was one of three judges scoring the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez fight, has decided to step away from boxing after taking harsh criticism for scoring the fight a draw.
Cynthia Ross, center, who was one of three judges scoring the Floyd Mayweather… (Isaac Brekken / Associated…)

Only in boxing could we emerge from a Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight with a bigger villain than Floyd Mayweather Jr.

And only in boxing could that villain be a 64-year-old named Cynthia, who never threw a punch and who most fans thought was a man because she goes by the initials C.J., as in C.J. Ross.

That's our usual male default. Plus you assume gender bias in a sport that oozes testosterone and turns most women's stomachs.

TV announcer: "Let's cut to Sluggo's corner now and see how much blood they can get out of his broken nose with that cotton swab."

If boxing turns you off to the point of nausea, it also never stops entertaining. It is always there when you need the comfort of a chuckle. It is the big, cuddly German shepherd at the door every night when you come home from work.

We can't take our eyes off train wrecks and boxing. They are actually one and the same.

Saturday night in Las Vegas, in a fight that started so late you had to be an insomniac in the Eastern time zone to even consider watching, Mayweather boxed beautifully and behaved admirably. He had done all his strutting and bragging during the promotion, had toned it down in the last week and turned in a masterful performance in the ring. His opponent, the much-ballyhooed Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, was not quite ready for prime time.

Certainly, many who paid the average $70 pay-per-view to watch at home felt slighted because there wasn't much blood and guts. At 36, Mayweather is now so skilled at his craft that he probably is hurting a sport that plays to, and thrives on, violence and mayhem. Bobbing, weaving, jabbing and slipping punches wins fights, but not fans.

It will be difficult to promote his next several matchups, short of putting Manny Pacquiao in the ring with him, because fans and pay-per-view purchasers now see that Mayweather just can't be hit. Put 10 coiled rattlesnakes in the ring with him and they will never touch him.

Saturday night's victory, probably watched by more people in various formats all over the world than any boxing match ever before, finally showcased beyond a shadow of a doubt the superstar Mayweather is.

That's why it is such a belly laugh that he had his thunder partially stolen.

Ross was one of three judges at ringside. When the decision was read, the ring announcer began with the words "majority decision." Press row went silent. Eyes opened wide. In the ring, Mayweather heard it and mouthed "what the ….?"

This meant that what everybody had seen, and knew for sure, wasn't to be. This wasn't unanimous? Did we not just see one of the great surgical masterpieces in boxing history? Judges Craig Metcalfe and Dave Moretti had it right, Mayweather winning decisively.

Not C.J. Ross. She had it a draw.

The wildfire was lighted. Teddy Atlas, the former fight trainer and now a boxing commentator, foamed at the mouth on TV and called Ross' scoring "another black eye for the sport."

Quickly, it was recalled that it had also been Ross who, along with Duane Forde, had handed Tim Bradley a stunning majority decision over Pacquiao last year. The outcry over that one had just started to die down, and here she was again.

Boxing websites — there may be more good ones in this sport than most others — opined, pointed fingers, demanded answers to questions, sought action. Rightfully so. That is their job.

Lost in all this hand-wringing is the fact that the right boxer was given the victory. At least Mayweather didn't have to leave the ring, checking his back pocket for his missing wallet, as Pacquiao had to.

Action going forward here was obvious. C.J. Ross, probably a very nice person, has now proved that she needs to focus on working the first base line in T-ball.

So it will be, at least for a while. She has announced she will be "stepping away" from boxing judging for a while, whatever that means.

It may mean she resisted a push under the bus from Keith Kizer, the Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director, who inexplicably put her back in the big time after the Pacquiao-Bradley fiasco.

It is hard to know exactly who did what to whom in the aftermath here. Calls were made to Kizer, and to the commission and its head man, Bill Brady, who enabled Kizer by accepting his judging choices. Calls were not returned.

Nevada boxing is great on the front end of things — the promotion, the salivating over sponsors. Not so much, though, in the aftermath of stuff hitting the fan, at least not since former executive director Marc Ratner was lured away by the Ultimate Fighting people and became an executive at UFC.

In some ways, this matters little. Boxing thrives on the silly, the stupid, the overdone and the inept. We expect it and are never disappointed.

But this one deserves a longer look. Even though Nevada boxing hopes it will, the resignation of Ross shouldn't end the scrutiny. Commissioners, executive directors and other judges working in a state where boxing does its biggest fights should get a long look.

Bob Arum, Top Rank Promotion's colorful chief executive, called for exactly that after the Bradley-Pacquiao mess. His message was that Nevada needed to investigate everything and everybody, even him.

"Sunshine never hurt anybody," Arum said.

Good luck with that, Bob.

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