Highway Robbery: The 5 Worst Decisions In Boxing History

Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez
via Golden Boy Promotions

The Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez fight lived up to its billing; two world-class fighters trading leather for 12 rounds. It was a close fight, but GGG won (not officially, but according to most spectators). Anyone who watched the fight will tell  you — except Adelaide Byrd, one of the three judges, whose insane scorecard is the most puzzling thing to happen in boxing since Fan Man parachuted into the ring during that Holyfield fight back in 1993.

Byrd happens to be the wife legendary referee Robert Byrd (who refereed Mayweather vs. McGregor) but if anything, that makes her scorecard more egregious. A bit of more useful trivia is that she’s frequently tapped by Golden Boy Promotions to judge their fights — Golden Boy reps Canelo, who had a rematch clause in his fight contract (GGG did not). A draw guarantees a GGG-Canelo rematch, meaning everyone — chiefly Golden Boy Promotions — gets paid twice.

Whether the result of GGG-Canelo fight was a simple miscarriage of justice or well-executed money grab, we’ll never know. But we do know that fighters have suffered at the hands of incompetent and corrupt judges since the beginning of time.


With that said, we’ve compiled a list of the TOP 5 worst decisions and disappointments in boxing history, excluding the GGG-Canelo fight, which could definitely make the list.

5. Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn

Manny Pacquiao isn’t the fighter he was 10 years ago, but he’s still orders of magnitude better than Jeff Horn, a nobody from Australia. During his July 2017 defense of the WBO welterweight title, Pac-Man was beating Jeff Horn so bad that the referee warned Horn’s corner after the ninth round that he was about to stop the fight.


Horn managed to make it to the end of the fight, but most believe Pacquiao won by a healthy margin. Boxing fans ’round the world were stunned after when the judges announced a unanimous decision in favor of Jeff Horn.

4. Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Pernell Whitaker

Julio Cesar Chavez entered this 1993 fight a boxing demigod with a perfect 87-0 record. He was the consensus No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and a man who could do no wrong. While the opening rounds were close, Whitaker boxed circles around Chavez starting in the fourth round.

Before the judges’ scorecards were read, Showtime’s three on-air commentators all agreed that Whitaker had won the fight by a clear margin. However, to the chagrin of even the pro-Mexican crowd (the fight took place in Texas), the fight was ruled a draw after two judges scored the fight an even 115-115 and the third giving a 115-113 edge to Whitaker.


So baffling was the result that Sports Illustrated ran a full-page cover of the fight that simply said “Robbed!” for their next issue.

3. Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis

The seminal moment in Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield’s career may have come when Mike Tyson bit off his ear with millions watching on pay-per-view, but that was far from the only controversial event that Holyfield experienced. His heavyweight title unification bout against Lennox Lewis in 1999 was an entirely one-sided affair, with Lewis out-landing Holyfield 348 to 130.

Judge Euginia Williams — unclear what fight she was watching — scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Holyfield, resulting in a highly controversial draw that garnered universal condemnation. HBO announcers Jim Lampley and George Foreman called the result “a travesty” and “a shame.”

Showtime analyst Steve Farhood also added, “I’ve been covering boxing 20 years. I would put this in the top five for the worst decisions I’ve seen.”

Even the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, chimed in, calling the decision “a travesty.”

2. Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley

Pac-Man has the distinguished honor of being the only fighter to make this list twice. His 2012 split decision loss to Timothy Bradley was so atrocious that legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum publicly questioned the integrity of boxing — the very sport that made him rich.

Pacquiao landed 253 punches compared to Bradley’s 159, and ESPN’s Teddy Atlas claimed it was a clear-cut case of incompetence or corruption. Of the 55 unofficial press scorecards, 52 had Pacquiao winning the fight.

Even Bradley himself, speaking after the fight, said, “I got to go home and view the tape to see if I really won.”

Pac would go on to defeat Bradley in both rematches, but the decision remains one of the most controversial in boxing history.

1. Roy Jones Jr. vs. Park Si-hun

For all the bad decisions in boxing history, none are worse than than Park Si-hun’s split decision victory over Roy Jones Jr. in the gold medal match of the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Jones Jr., who would go on to be a six-time world champion across four weight classes after turning pro, hadn’t lost a single round in the Olympics en route to the final.

Despite literally beating Park Si-hun up during the fight — landing 86 punches to Park’s 32 — the judges awarded a 3-2 split decision victory to the South Korean.


Park Si-hun personally apologized to Jones Jr. after the fight, and the fight’s referee told Jones he was baffled by the judges’ decision.

After an investigation, it came to light that the three judges who scored the fight in favor of Park Si-hun had been wined and dined by South Korean Olympic officials, ultimately leading to Olympic organizers changing the way boxing is scored.