Canelo Alvarez to Deontay Wilder – Here Are the Biggest Controversies in Boxing in 2020

Published 12/30/2020, 2:15 AM EST
Boxing – Anthony Yarde v Lyndon Arthur – Church House, London, Britain – December 5, 2020 General view during the fight between Anthony Yarde and Lyndon Arthur Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

2020 has been a year full of uncertainty in all walks of life. Things have been no different in the world of boxing either. COVID-19 brought the sport to stand-still for months. Despite the limited action, 2020 has been a year marred by controversy. Take a look at some of the most controversial moments in boxing in 2020.


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Top 5 controversies the boxing world saw in 2020

1. Deontay Wilder’s accusations: Arguably the biggest controversy of all came later in the year. Former WBC heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder made bizarre accusations against Tyson Fury after his loss. The ‘Gypsy King’ beat the American back in February; however, ‘The Bronze Bomber’ broke his silence only in November with a shocking video.


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Wilder gave a number of excuses for his defeat. This included accusing Fury of tapering with his gloves, tampering with his water, and scratching flesh out of his ears. Needless to say, he faced a lot of backlash for this.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 22: Tyson Fury knocks down Deontay Wilder in the fifth round during their Heavyweight bout for Wilder’s WBC and Fury’s lineal heavyweight title on February 22, 2020 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

 2. Canelo Alvarez’s law-suit against Golden Boy Promotions: Another controversy in the year was the battle between P4P star Canelo Alvarez and his own promotions. The super-star boxer signed a record-breaking deal with them in 2019. However, after disagreements, he filed a law-suit and demanded compensation of up to $285 million.

 The two parties came to an agreement in December, and Alvarez was free from Golden Boy Promotions. As a result, he was able to fight Callum Smith. As of now, he is still a free agent. However, the way in which the situation unfolded was the real controversy.

Dec 19, 2020; San Antonio, TX, USA; Canelo Alvarez (red trunks) and Callum Smith (white trunks) during their WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine super middleweight championship bout at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

3. Joshua Franco vs Andrew Moloney: One of the biggest talking points of the year came on the Terence Crawford vs Kell Brook undercard. Joshua Franco took on Andrew Moloney in a re-match for the WBA Super-featherweight title. However, in the most controversial way possible, the referee declared the fight a ‘No contest’.

 The referee called a halt to the fight after a suspected accidental head-butt from Moloney. After almost 30 minutes of reviewing the footage, the fight was called off. However, the world of combat sport did not agree with this since the footage failed to show any significant head-butt. Naturally, this left fans and fighters baffled at the decision.

READ: Daniel Cormier, Joe Rogan, Teddy Atlas, and Others React To Joshua Franco vs Andrew Moloney Controversy

4. Terry O’Conner on his phone: One of the first major boxing events after the pandemic brought a huge controversy along with it. Lewis Ritson took on Miguel Vazquez in a 12-round contest with the former winning the fight via unanimous decision. However, judge Terry O’Connor made the headlines after pictures surfaced of him using a telephonic device ringside.

The scores were considered controversial, and many felt that O’Connor was influenced by a third party. However, after extensive hearings, he has since been cleared of any charges and is free to continue to judge fights. Despite this, it still sent the combat sports world into a frenzy.

5.  Scoring for the Lopez-Lomachenko fight: Arguably the biggest talking point of the year has been the scoring system. Despite this being an age-old discussion in boxing, it was re-ignited on October 17 when Teofimo Lopez beat Vasyl Lomachenko. Although the majority felt that Lopez had won the fight, few predicted the vast difference in scorecards.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 17: In this handout image provided by Top Rank, Vasiliy Lomachenko fights Teofimo Lopez Jr in their Lightweight World Title bout at MGM Grand Las Vegas Conference Center on October 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)

Lopez took the early rounds while Lomachenko caught up in the end, thus making it an extremely close fight. However, judge Judie Lederman scored the fight 119-109 in favor of the American. This sent shock waves across the boxing community as no one saw the fight to be as one-sided as that.

Honourable mentions

While the ones mentioned above gained the most attention, there were several other controversies in the year. Terence Crawford got into a war of words with his own promoter, Bob Arum, while out-spoken Jarrell Miller tested positive for PEDs yet again.


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There was also a divided opinion on the number of belts in boxing. Floyd Mayweather openly called out the sanctioning bodies for their actions while Mauricio Sulaiman hit back and even introduced a new division called the ‘Bridgerweight’.

Therefore, in a year riddled with uncertainty, the sport still treated fans to quality boxing action while also getting their fair share of controversy. Which was the biggest controversy of 2020, according to you?

READ:Boxing: Shocking Underdog Wins of 2020


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Leonardo Carvalho

839 articles

Leonardo Carvalho is a Boxing Writer for EssentiallySports. Before working as a boxing web journalist, Leonardo dabbled in roles ranging from an SEO specialist to a Chegg expert. Alongside his current role, Leonardo runs a YouTube channel where he combines his passion for fitness with sports.