Former heavyweight champion and fight legend George Foreman, when an analyst on HBO, would often compare boxing judges' scoring to a beauty contest.
It sounded funny, but Big George was highly accurate.
As in life, style sometimes edges substance in boxing, too.
So, what 's the substantive criteria that should be used when scoring a boxing match?
Clean and accurate punching
But not all of those elements are equal in the judges' eyes. Some prefer aggression and hard punching while others favor slick movement and volume punching.
Example: Fighter A utilizes his jab and outlands Fighter B 4 to 1. But Fighter B, unphased by his foe's punches, repeatedly staggers and buckles Fighter A throughout the fight.
Who wins? Well, like a beauty contest, it depends on your preference.
But, there's more...
In addition having preferences as they relate to the 'nuts and bolts' of scoring, we sometimes subconsciously place style on the same level with substance when making an assessment.
The 1960 U.S. Presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon is just one of many examples of how we color outside the lines when making judgments.
Those who listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon had won while folks watching on TV clearly gave the nod to Kennedy.
In that debate, Nixon, who refused to wear make-up, appeared gaunt and pale due to being recently hospitalized earlier that month while the handsome Kennedy seemed to glow on the screen, looking every bit like the Prince of Camelot and a U.S. president. Moreover, in addition to the weak, montone expressions Nixon wore, the beads of sweat he constantly wiped off of his forehead didn't make for a good look.
In contrast, JFK, wearing perfect make-up, smiled and radiated on TV. Not only did he use fluctuations in his voice at the right time, he also intelligently spoke directly into the camera as if talking out to every viewer who was watching this debate on television.
For those watching on TV, Kennedy was the clear winner despite (arguably) being edged by the more experienced Nixon in the actual content of debate.
Canelo vs GGG 2... Like Nixon vs Kennedy?
People are still debating (pun not intended) the result of Canelo's narrow points win over Gennady Golovkin Saturday night. Those who favor Golovkin will insist GGG landed more punches, 234-202 according to CompuBox, and was the ring general. On the other side, those who thought the verdict was fair will point to Canelo's 143-116 edge in powershots landed and Alvarez's effective aggression.
... And both sides can make a valid case for their fighter.
However, whether fair or unfair, there was another element that worked in Canelo's favor - Style.
Throughout most of the fight, Canelo Alvarez simply looked like the stronger, fresher fighter and his style of fighting was "sexier" than Golovkin who, despite his effectiveness, was more workmanlike and less aesthetically pleasing.
Canelo, even when missing, looked to be breathing fire while Golovkin sometimes appeared to be punching back just to keep the aggressive Alvarez at bay. Yes, Golovkin was landing well but was getting edged in the "presentation" aspect.
Also, Canelo's body language was that of a hungrier, more confident, more determined fighter while Golovkin, despite landing some brilliant shots, looked a little bewildered at times.
Even during some of the inside exchanges, GGG tended to wilt as if he was about to fall out from exhaustion. Moreover, his retreating in the face of Canelo's humdingers, didn't help GGG's cause.
Judges aren't suppose to take those things into consideration when scoring a fight but they are human and can't help but be swayed a little by extraneous factors. And in a close contest, a fella's superior presentation/style can sometimes tip the scales.
Whether he deserved to win or lose, Canelo looked "Mas Macho" Saturday night.
GGG should have been awarded the first fight hands down, but I thought Canelo nipped his foe Saturday night. Although I scored the rematch 5 Rounds for Canelo, 4 for Golovkin and 3 rounds even, I wouldn't dispute a draw this time or a 115-113 Golovkin win. It was a very close fight that was ultimately determined by the judges' scoring preferences and, perhaps, extracurricular factors that wouldn't have a place in scoring in a perfect world.
Keywords: In a perfect world.
For all it's worth, Golovkin, despite outlanding Canelo, certainly didn't win the "beauty contest."