There once was a time in boxing where a draw meant that two fighters strengths canceled each other out and both roughly won the same number of rounds leading up to the decision. Then there were the rare times when a fight was so damn good, that the consensus was that nobody deserved to lose, and both combatants would be awarded a draw. Either way, draw verdicts in boxing came unexpectedly and infrequently. Nowadays, it seems like we get a draw in every other big fight that takes place. This wouldn’t be a problem if these fights were extremely close and competitive, but most of the recent bouts in boxing that were scored draws had clear winners. The draw was given to lessen the blow of the robbery committed against the real winner while the loser leaves virtually unscathed with an undefeated record and glossy stature in the sport still intact.
Let’s go back to 2017 where two high profile fights ended up in a draw. Badou Jack fought James DeGale for all the marbles at super middleweight in one of the better match ups of the year. After surviving an early knockdown, Jack battled back to take control and did just that during the 2nd half of the fight, dropping DeGale in the process. Unfortunately, Jack’s effective body punching and pressure boxing that reduced DeGale to sporadic offense and aimless movement wasn’t enough to win officially, even though most observers scored it for him. Gennady Golovkin would fall victim to the same draw robbery scenario later that year when he didn’t get the nod for effectively coming forward and out-boxing Canelo Alvarez over the course of 12 rounds. DeGale and Canelo were allowed to lose without officially losing, while Jack and Golovkin were allowed to win without officially winning which is a travesty in itself since hard working fighters are being robbed of their moment at the mountaintop.
This trend carried on to 2018 where we saw three more draws happen in major fights (Broner/Vargas, Stevenson/Jack, and Wilder/Fury). Broner and Vargas fit the mode of what fans are used to seeing when draws happen in boxing. Vargas controlled the first half of the bout with his volume punching and Broner turned it up in the 2nd half with his accurate counter punching. Neither guy dominated the other, nor could they ever get it going offensively once the other was in their groove. Their strengths neutralized each other. Broner’s talent couldn’t overcome Vargas’s work rate and vice versa. A different type of fight broke out between then lineal light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack but yielded the same draw result. Stevenson controlled and clearly won the first half of the bout due to Jack not really doing much since his game plan was to turn it up late once the older Stevenson grew tired. The plan seemed to be working until Stevenson ended up hurting Jack late with a body shot, thus taking a much-needed late round in the fight. Fight was probably one of the easiest 115 to 113 types of bout to score, but fans tend to put more emphasis on rounds that are won bigger, so Stevenson’s early fight dominance gets overshadowed by Jack’s 2nd half rally. Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury was another major fight that had a clear winner, but amazingly ended up in another controversial draw. Despite Wilder scoring two big knockdowns, he was soundly out-boxed by Fury for at least 80 percent of the fight. Tyson Fury was robbed of one of the greatest sports comebacks of all time due to oversaturation of draws in boxing.
That’s five draws in less than 2 years. That’s ridiculous once you consider the competitiveness of the fights in question. A draw went from happening every now and then to becoming a common occurrence in the most convenient of times. When future super fights are hanging in the balance or a promising star needs to stay undefeated, you can always rely on the faithful draw verdict. Boxing being known as the theater of the unexpected, will become a thing of the past if every major fight keeps ending in a draw. There’s too many draws happening in boxing once you start expecting them.
Written by Shutterworth for Ring Gang Radio