It has been two years since Josh Taylor was adjudged a highly contentious victor over Jack Catterall, and this weekend in Leeds, England, they go again. Catterall has been installed as the favorite for the rematch, but history shows that justice only sometimes follows in rematches of controversial decisions.

Jeff Fenech L KO 8 Azumah Nelson

Fenech still hasn’t forgiven the judges for calling his June 1991 bout with Nelson a draw. Few could believe that Nelson, unbeaten and closing in on his fourth divisional title, left the ring still WBC junior lightweight titleholder thanks to some seriously perplexing scores that left them all square.

“That would have been my fourth world title in a fourth weight, and I was undefeated,” Fenech told me in 2016, 25 years after the draw. “It had never been done before, but because of, let’s call them plain f****** stupid, dumb f****** judges – because they are – it doesn’t happen. … It wasn’t close. Judges ruined my career. I’ll punch them in the face and then they’ll know what it’s like.”

Needless to say, given Fenech’s recollection of events, things were not put right in the rematch, which occurred in March 1992. Nelson, the betting underdog, fought aggressively from the get-go, and Fenech could only stay with him in patches.

Nelson retained his belt again, this time far more convincingly, via stoppage in the eighth.

Lennox Lewis W PTS 12 Evander Holyfield

We won’t dwell too long on this one after spending an awfully long time reliving the entire rivalry ahead of Oleksandr Usyk-Tyson Fury last week.

So, as succinctly as possible, here goes: Lewis seemed to comprehensively outbox Holyfield in March 1999 only for the judges to rule it a draw. Holyfield was better in the November return, and so too was the action in the fight, but Lewis was again the better heavyweight. Thankfully, the judges agreed, as Lennox was declared both the unanimous decision winner and the world heavyweight king.

Marvin Hagler W RTD 4 Vito Antuofermo

Hagler, the longtime leading middleweight contender, looked like he had done more than enough to be promoted to the division’s king when he challenged Antuofermo in November 1979. After 15 rounds, Antuofermo’s face was awash with blood from six separate cuts that 25 stitches would later be required to repair.

According to esteemed writer Pat Putman, referee Mills Lane was so convinced that the challenger had won the fight that he pointed him in the direction of the ABC-TV cameras. “Congratulations,” Lane said. “Now stay facing this way until they announce the decision and I raise your arm.” But when the draw was revealed, Lane had to raise an arm of each fighter.

By June 1981, Hagler was champion after beating Alan Minter, who had dethroned Antuofermo. He had his sights set on revenge over his old rival, and it duly followed, but this time it was Vito claiming foul play.

Hagler, fighting angry, saw his bald head connect at force with Antuofermo’s, opening a deep wound in the process. It gave Marvin a target to aim at, and he rarely missed, dropping his man in the third before another head clash sent more claret pumping from the challenger’s head. The fight was stopped before the bell for the fourth sounded.

Gennady Golovkin L PTS 12 Saul “Canelo” Alvarez

The consensus after Golovkin and Alvarez collided in Las Vegas in September 2017 was that GGG deserved to win their rip-roaring 12-rounder. That only one judge felt the same way was bad enough; that another felt Canelo was the 118-110 winner was impossible to fathom.

However, it should be noted that over the last four rounds of that first fight, Alvarez showed serious signs of improvement from the previous eight. Therefore, he wasn’t deemed to be out of Golovkin’s league, nor was Golovkin thought to have Canelo’s number.

The rematch took place one year later, again at T-Mobile Arena. It was thought beforehand that Canelo would attempt to build on the success he’d had in the last third of the first fight, which was largely achieved with intelligent counterpunching while on the move. Instead, the pair met in center ring in the opening round and barely a backward step occurred for the remainder of the high-quality brawl.

In the end, the result of fight one – a draw – looked like the fairest outcome, but few grumbled when Alvarez nicked it on a majority decision.

Tyson Fury W TKO 7 Deontay Wilder

Though the draw between Fury and Wilder in December 2018 was just about arguable because the latter scored two knockdowns, it was still widely regarded as contentious. Fury, after all, seemed to win most of the rounds in which he retained his balance, and even after the huge knockdown he suffered in the 12th, he got up to boss the remainder of the fight.

Even so, opinion was split before they rematched in February 2020 in Las Vegas. Some believed that Wilder would keep his man down this time, while others believed that all Fury had to do was stay switched on, keep his distance and box his way to victory.

What nobody saw coming – even though Fury himself told everyone it was coming – was a demolition job from the British challenger. Tyson kept his word, however, and attacked from the start, putting his full weight behind practically every punch he threw.

Wilder took a horrible beating and, after being dropped in Rounds 3 and 5, was rescued in the seventh.

Manny Pacquiao W PTS 12 Timothy Bradley Jr.

The HBO crew could scarcely believe what it was hearing when Bradley was named the split decision winner over Pacquiao in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in June 2012.

“That is a terrible, bogus decision,” Jim Lampley cried. “Tim Bradley has scored an upset split decision victory over Manny Pacquiao. God only knows how.”

Lampley’s colleague Harold Lederman agreed: “That decision was a crime,” he said.

CompuBox stats claimed that the Filipino, who lost his WBO welterweight strap, had outlanded Bradley by 253 total punches to 159, and Boxing News even scored the contest 120-108 for Pacquiao from a ringside seat.

The rematch, if inevitable, was not immediate. Pacquiao was knocked out in six rounds in his next bout, and though he then decisioned Brandon Rios, question marks surrounded him as he entered the sequel with Bradley in April 2014.

Part II proved to be a competitive affair with Bradley – the 2-to-1 underdog – keeping his promise to attack in the early going in the hope of scoring a KO. But after 12 rounds, Pacquiao had proved himself superior and won a deserved unanimous decision. 

Jersey Joe Walcott L KO 11 Joe Louis

It was a decision right up there with the most infamous in history. Louis keeping hold of his heavyweight crown after 15 rounds, despite being decked twice along the way by 10-to-1 underdog Jersey Joe Walcott in December 1947, made the front pages on newspapers all over America.

The crowd of 18,194 generated first a record gate of $216,477 for Madison Square Garden and then an almighty din as attendees booed the verdict, which favored the veteran champion on a split.

Before that, Louis famously tried to leave the ring before the decision was announced because he was so disgusted with his performance. According to eyewitness reports, Louis was “forcibly restrained by his handlers” from doing so.

Credit to the “Brown Bomber” for granting Walcott an immediate return, which took place in June 1948. The desire for the sequel was great, and it was staged at Yankee Stadium in front of 42,667 ticket buyers, most of them expecting to see Louis return to form.

But it was Walcott, the silky stylist from Camden, New Jersey, who set the pace once more. Louis endured a flash knockdown in Round 3 and was behind on two of three cards heading into the 11th. Louis then caught Walcott on the ropes with a wicked right hook and quickly followed with blasts from both hands to send the challenger down for the count.

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