(Round 2, via FightMetric)
The Henderson Melendez fight was a pretty close affair, and it seemed like either fighter could have snapped it up with a little more aggression on their part. Most people agree that it came down to how you scored round 2, but of course that’s not where the deciding judges’ score came from…
All three gave Melendez the first round and Henderson the third, and the other three rounds were a free-for-all. Derek Cleary scored Rounds 3, 4 and 5 for Henderson, Wade Vierra gave 1, 4 and 5 to Melendez, and Michael Bell had the champ taking the middle three rounds. SI.com saw the fight as Bell did, scoring it 48-47 for Henderson.
One judge gave round five to Henderson. White, while acknowledging it was a great fight, noted that in the last 20 seconds, he was disappointed that neither man made the effort to put it away, noting had Melendez been aggressive in the closing seconds, perhaps he’d have swayed the dissenting judge and it would have been the difference between being champion and being on the outside looking in.
And here’s Gilbert basically admitting he took it down a gear after rounds one and two:
“It was my chance to kind of take it more, and I didn’t. I just felt like I had the first two rounds, and I felt like I kind of kept it in the bank for the fifth. That was kind of my game plan,” said Melendez. “I knew I lost [rounds] three and four, and I really saved it for the fifth. I think I looked tired in the fourth. I thought I looked a lot more energetic in the fifth, and I thought he looked a lot more tired, but Benson is a stud. He’s very tough to hit.”
If he really did take his foot off the pedal after round two, that decision is likely to haunt him for a while. And hopefully teach him a lesson in why you never give away a round in a big fight.