For as long as I can remember, there has been poor judging in boxing. Let’s face reality; it’s a fabric of the sport that will never disappear. As fans, we don’t like it. In fact, we abhor it. But it is as common to boxing, as baseball managers kicking sand onto umpires’ feet while screaming obscenities into their faces. The late Billy Martin did it best when he managed the Yankees.
The most recent display of poor judging came on June 9, 2012, when Timothy Bradley was awarded a split decision victory over Manny Pacquiao. Anyone with decent eyesight would have known that there was no way on God’s green Earth that Bradley should’ve been awarded this split decision victory. By no means am I suggesting that Mr. Bradley was out of the fight entirely. He’s likely to have won 2 rounds, at best. He was certainly in it to win it, as the expression goes, but overwhelmingly outmatched. Reality check; when you’re outclassed, out-boxed, are not the aggressor, and are out-landed in punches by a margin of 253 to 159, something is terribly awry when your hand is raised in victory at the closing bell. The boxers are not to be held accountable, though. Mr. Pacquiao was gracious after the bout, as he usually is; but don’t feel sorry for him. After all, his multi-millions affords him a lavish lifestyle most of us only dream of. Mr. Bradley was ecstatic and emotional, as well he should’ve been.
These are three bouts that have stood out in my mind as the worst of the 20th century:
- 1989 – Thomas Hearns v. Sugar Ray Leonard II – A draw? Even Mr. Leonard admitted that Mr. Hearns deserved the win.
- 1995 – George Foreman v. Axel Schulz – Mr. Foreman was awarded a majority decision victory over someone who out punched him from the first to last round. By the way, Mr. Foreman refused to give Mr. Schulz a rematch. My guess is that the Foreman Grill was really starting to take off, and that his devotion leaned more toward his business venture instead of to the sweet science. Mr. Foreman retired after winning another controversial majority decision over Shannon Briggs in 1997.
- 1999 –Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad – I loved Trinidad, but a majority decision for Mr. Trinidad, when he was outclassed, and threw no significant combinations throughout the entire bout? And who lays back in the last couple of rounds, because he thinks he’s way ahead in the scorecards? Epic fail for De LaHoya’s corner.
Don’t take my word for it. I encourage you to watch the fights for yourself. They’re available on www.youtube.com.
The veteran judges assigned to the Bradley/Pacquiao bout were C. J. Ross, Duane Ford, and Jerry Roth. The latter was the only judge who favored Mr. Pacquiao, but even he, gave Mr. Bradley 5 rounds on his scorecard. I was surprised that they would be held before a tribunal to explain their respective scorecard/decision. I don’t exactly know the function of this tribunal, but the only just outcome would’ve been to give each one of these judges a pair of 16 ounce gloves, and force them to go 1 round with the loser on the receiving end of a bad decision. I think that that would either force them to retire from judging altogether, or, give them keener insight.
Here are a few of my suggestions to clean up the current and antiquated 3 man judging system :
- Ban the overpaid judging commission and allow us, the paying viewers, to judge a bout via Twitter, especially if it’s a pay-per-view event. Four hash tags can be created (#Smith won, #Smith lost, #Jones won, & #Jones lost). Knockouts or a stoppage is a no-brainer.
- Allow the referee to decide the winner. He’s practically in the bout already, and is seeing it up close and personal. No scorecards. No CompuBox. No controversy. Simply put, at the end of the bout, the referee would simply say, “This guy won and that guy lost. Have a good night, and thanks for coming out.” I nominate my friend, and best ref in the business to pioneer this; Hall of Famer, Joe Cortez. And as a former boxer himself, Mr. Cortez could likely defend himself against the naysayers. He’s still pretty fit after all.
- If we absolutely must keep the 3-judge system, let’s place them in their own private room equipped with an HD TV. This would offer no distractions whatsoever. Why must they have to be at ringside anyway? An HD TV can offer a much better vantage point. I’ve been ringside for several bouts, and I always miss a lot of the action. Now, I understand the 3 vantage point system, so a camera can be placed to mirror that vantage point on the HD TV. Furthermore, the judges should be subjected to a limited background check for chronic gambling habits, routine urinalyses, in order to rule out illegal substances, prohibit prescribed narcotics 48 hours before a bout, and alcohol 24 hours before a bout. Plenty of caffeine during the bout is encouraged.
- If all else fails, let’s clone ESPN2’s Teddy Atlas and HBO’s Harold Lederman. They always seem to get it right.
On ESPN2 this past Friday, Teddy Atlas, who feared another poor judging decision, suggested a ban on the judging commission. This is what gave me the idea for my first suggestion. I realize that some of my suggestions may sound ridiculous, or a bit farfetched, but I do believe that some drastic measure must be taken in order to restore faith back into judging, and boxing. Boxers train extremely hard, therefore they deserve better. And we, the paying fans, expect no less.