The Verdict is in

10.05.04 - By Don Deane: It seems that poor judging is common place and bad decisions are the norm in this age of boxing. Think about it. How often do you sit on the edge of your seat after watching your favorite boxer fight a hard ten rounds and say to yourself “Well he SHOULD win.” Or do you remember sitting home watching Glen Johnson beat up Matt Vanda for 10 rounds in Vanda’s hometown and say to yourself “It doesn’t matter, there is no way Johnson will win in Minnesota.” Or more recently, did you say to yourself “How the hell did Burt Clements get out of elementary school when he thinks that 9 minus 3 equals 7?” In all fairness to Mister Clements, there is no rule saying you have to deduct one point for each knockdown, but why would you take a point for the first two knockdowns but not the third? But will anything happen to change this? Not bloody likely.

As long as Mark Ratner is allowed to set the precedent that fighters can not protest poor judging when a mistake is owned up to by the offending judge than this problem will be worsened. If Mister Ratner would be so kind maybe he can answer a question for the boxing fans. If boxers do not have a ground to protest a score when a judge comes out and says “I just screwed up” then what the heck are they supposed to protest? Who knows, maybe him and Clements are just over tired from putting in long hours sorting through the conspiracy theories as to why Wladimir Klitschko sucks. It has to be the water bucket. But one good thing can be said of Klitschko. At least he got knocked out and didn’t give the judges a chance to screw the relative unknown Brewster out of a win.

So what needs to be done about the judging? Good question, glad you asked it. First off there needs to be a regulatory body with some actual power that can set a uniform code for judging. There are plenty of excellent fight judges and also a percentage who are God awful. The problem is, the horrible judges are allowed to keep working. It is painfully obvious that judging is not an exact science ( 115-110 Pacquiao, 115-110 Marquez, 113-113 should illustrate that point) but it needs to be. Judges should be educated to consider defense, scoring blows, pace and ring control and attacking/countering equally. Some judges will still favor counter punchers over guys that press the action and vice versa, which is why there are three judges.

Judges should be interviewed by members of the regulatory body after each fight to explain how they scored a fight. These judges should also be made available to the press in the case of controversy. Let the judge tell his bosses and the media that he was predisposed to judge for the hometown guy because he didn’t want to get accosted on the way out of the arena. Let him tell the same people that he always liked counter punchers so if a round is close, he tends to show bias towards the guy throwing hooks off his back foot. The more that is learned about the fight judges the easier it will make the decision on whether to employ a judge for a certain fight. After all, humans are fallible, but sometimes guys just need to be sent packing.

The bottom line on all of this is accountability. The judges need to be held accountable for their actions as individuals and a governing body needs to be there to take responsibility for judging as a whole. This can not continue to be left up to individual athletic commissions because fight judging is just a small part of their organizational duties.

Boxers have their livelihoods at stake when the final bell rings, just as a Defendant has his livelihood in the hands of a judge and jury in a courtroom. In that courtroom the judge and jury do their best work to decide the fate of the accused. In the boxing ring, the same assiduousness should be expected from the three people handing down the verdicts that decide the future earning power of these hard working men.

Article posted on 10.05.2004

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