By Sean Crose
A lot of boxing fans were furious with judge Levi Martinez’ scorecard for the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara bout on Saturday night. Truth be told, these fans had a right to be furious. To pick Canelo as the winner – which Martinez did – was one thing. To pick the Mexican superstar as the winner by a score of 117-111, however, was something else entirely. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine how he could possibly have come up with such an analysis.
One has to wonder, though, how Martinez would see the fight if he had to do it all over again. Twitter was popping with criticism after the pay per view event, as were the articles of various sports writers. Even Showtime’s Paulie Malignaggi made it clear he felt Martinez had picked the winner of the bout before the opening bell had even rung.
Such an uproar often leads to an investigation. Yet a cursory look at Martinez’ record tells us the guy isn’t guilty of anything other than of having had a bad night on Saturday. It was a very bad night, to be sure, but it was a bad night nonetheless – nothing more. In short, there’s no evidence to suggest Martinez is anything besides a respected, and trusted, professional…albeit a fallible one.
The record speaks for itself, actually. Martinez has been scoring fights for over twenty years now. He’s traveled the globe and has judged some of the biggest matches in the past year. And Saturday night was the only time he came across as being unquestionably controversial during that entire twelve month period.
For instance, since July of last year, Martinez has judged a whopping forty-seven professional boxing matches. Of those forty-seven matches, only five came down to split decisions. Of those five split decisions, Martinez disagreed with the majority only twice. And only once did he disagree with the majority by anything close to a wide margin (that was for the Arturo Crispin-Julio Cesar Lanzas fight last November).
Since the Canelo-Lara bout, people have suggested that Martinez is corrupt, yet there’s no evidence of corruption to be found. It’s also been suggested that Martinez sides with the more lucrative fighter in a bout, yet Martinez had Marcos Maidana beating Adrien Broner last December. What’s more, it’s been suggested, that Martinez prefers brawlers to craftsmen, yet Martinez had Vasyl Lomanchenko beating Orlando Salido this past March. The Lomanchenko decision is particularly interesting, by the way, because it’s even been suggested that Martinez might favor Mexican fighters…yet Salido came to America from Mexico. So much for that reputation-destroying theory.
None of this is to suggest, however, that Martinez is above criticism. He made what most probably consider to be a ridiculous decision Saturday regarding a highly publicized matchup. That’s bad for boxing, a sport which always seems to have enough problems on it’s gloved hands as it is. At least one official has reportedly claimed the matter would be looked into. And that’s probably as it should be.
It’s doubtful anything will come from an investigation, however. The question is, should anything? Boxing is a sport which is judged by humans, qualified humans, but humans who make big mistakes nonetheless. That’s not going to change. What Martinez did on Saturday definitely raised some eyebrows, but, at a glance, the evidence just doesn’t seem to be there for fans to start taking out the torches and pitchforks.
Canelo-Lara was a major fight, but it was still only one bout out of the forty-seven that Martinez had judged so far in the past year. Horrible as it may seem, it’s only logical that Martinez would have stumbled somewhere along the line. The fact that he stumbled so spectacularly on Saturday, however, while the whole world was watching, is almost enough to make fans feel a bit sorry for him.