FACT or MYTH: You Must Take the Belt From a Champ?

Juan Manuel Marquez19.03.08 - By “Old Yank” Schneider: How many of you believe that a challenger must begin each round behind the eight-ball? That he must make up some fraction of a point deficit after the bell rings to start each round? That the champ deserves some magical round-by-round advantage by virtue of holding a belt?

Unfair! The questions were all biased and structured to make it sound stupid that the belt needs to be taken from the champ. Perhaps you are right, it is the biased questions that are flawed and the champ does deserve some edge simply because he holds the belt. In fact, you are 100% correct; the challenger must beat the champ! The challenger must “take the title” from the champ. And nothing says this more strongly than a champ retaining his title if the fight is a draw.

This is not rocket science here folks. Each round is scored as a stand-alone fight. If you saw one fighter winning the round, you must give him 10 points and the other fighter gets 9 or less. If you saw the challenger winning the round, then give him 10 points; it would be patently unfair not to do so. If you saw the round as even, then score it 10-10. The champion has a built in advantage in that the draw essentially goes to him – he cannot lose a championship belt by virtue of a draw.

When Manny Pacquiao was unable to sufficiently impress two of three judges in his first bout against Juan Manuel Marquez, he ended up with a draw and Marquez, the champion, retained his title. Pacquiao needed to take the title and he failed. He needed to beat the champ and he failed. The notion that you must take the title or beat the champ proved to be true.

But why do some Marquez fans believe that Pacquiao, after sufficiently impressing two out of three judges, somehow needed to do more? Is not winning on two of three score cards “beating” your opponent? Is not winning the fight enough to “take the title”? Of course it is! Fans will be fans and in close fights we will always hear the truth turned into a myth over what “taking a belt” really means.

The only fair fight is one with a level playing field. Requiring a challenger to rise to a higher standard than a champion is by definition not a level playing field. Do all challengers to a 100 meter record holder need to run their 100 meters uphill? If a baseball team is defending its status as World Series champs, is the homerun distance made shorter for their hitters? Or do the umpires need to grant the champs a narrower strike zone at the plate for opposing pitchers to deal with? Does a line judge in a tennis match lean toward seeing balls in for a defending champ at the Us Open and tend to see them out for the challenger – always giving the benefit of the doubt to the champ and not granting any benefit to the challenger? I say “nonsense” to all of this. A line judge, an umpire and a boxing judge have but one thing they need to do – be fair and unbiased.

Article posted on 20.03.2008

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