Boxing

Marquez: Victim of the Scoring System - Reflection and Musings on Marquez-Pacquiao II

By Barry Green: In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, a Soothsayer tells our eponymous character "Beware the Ides of March." The actual date in March on the Roman calendar is March 15th. Last weekend on March 15th the same message may have been told to Juan Manuel Marquez before his fight with Manny Pacquiao. Because yet again this glorious sport we love throws up a contentious decision that while not a classic robbery, has probably been awarded to the guy who deserved it less..

Juan Marquez and Manny Pacquiao both performed brilliantly last weekend so why does this fight leave me with a sour taste in my mouth? The reason: I feel Marquez was not necessarily robbed but merely punished by the 10-point must system and therefore a thoroughly polished is made to look like a very close fight. Let me explain.

My card did read 114-113 Marquez, which is very close of course. But in different scoring system Iíd have had Marquez perhaps three points ahead.

Manny shaded rounds enough for a 10-9, while Marquez dominated some rounds, well enough for a 10-9, yet none quite reaching a 10-8 deficit, with the arguable exception of the 8th, wherein the Mexican dominated his quarry with crisp combinations, mixing up his shots to head and body, quite brilliantly.

The same scenario would have applied had the fight been judged on the old Ďroundsí system of course, but going back to the five-point must system, (in which the winning fighter is awarded five points, the loser four or less), would have seen Marquez run out a close, but comfortable winner.

Even, the one-point system, (in which the winning fighter is awarded one or more points, and the losing fighter is awarded zero) would have seen the same result: a unanimous decision for Marquez.

The answer on the face of it could be to score more rounds even. But this fence-sitting exercise was famously performed in the Duran-Leonard fight in Montreal, when one judge had 10 of them even. This largely derided scorecard did have one saving grace, however: it had the right winner.

The even rounds problem get can out of hand, like the time one indecisive judge scored the 1971 world light-middleweight title fight between Carmelo Bossi and Jose Hernandez- 150-150. Thatís ALL 15 rounds even!

Now thereís a judge who really couldnít tell his arse from his elbow. The answer then possibly lies in altering the scoring system, to favour dominant rounds that donít achieve a knockdown. If that is the case the aforementioned Ď5 pointí system is best - or even the half-point British way of scoring a bout.

The fight itself saw Marquez establishing his superior craft and edging the first two stanzas mainly due to his ring generalship, coupled with the fact that he threw the only real solid punches.

Round three saw Pacquiao unleash what was to be his best work of the fight, as the Mexican went down to the canvas for the fourth time in their two battles. He survived a shellacking to fire back with his own shots as the rounds drew to its close. But one felt there would then be a momentum swing, which never really materialised despite a solid 4th round for the Filipino.

The middle period of the fight saw Marquez score with two convincing rounds (the 6th & 8th), while Pacquiao probably just shaded the 7th and 9th. The total scoring of these rounds would then be 38-38. But re-watch this action and then tell me thatís fair. Marquez looked the all-round better fighter in this period.

Pacquiao always looked relaxed and supremely confident that this would be his hour, but still it was Marquez who controlled the tempo of the fight and generally displayed the superior defence. Effective aggression went to Manny and the solid punching argument was probably a tie. Therefore, an overall advantage on scoring criterion to Marquez.

The fight ended with Marquez taking the fight to Pacquiao and capturing the last two rounds on my card, enough to earn him the duke. The judges however were to deny him again.

It appears the difference in both fights is that Manny has gotten by because he simply possesses more dynamite in his hands than Marquez does. His explosive style sits well with American judges (I canít imagine many British reporters scoring the fight for the Filipino).

In both their meetings it has been the Mexican thatís tasted the canvas and therefore Pacquiao is the only one to have scored at least a 2-point margin both times. This looked like a decisive factor in the scoring.

For me, like the aforementioned Duran-Leonard fight, this was one of those scraps that, despite its closeness, definitely had a winner and my card of 114-113, if anything, is probably a bit kind to Pacquiao.

The judges scored accordingly: Jerry Roth: 115-112 Marquez. Tom Miller:114-113 Pacquiao. Duane Ford: 115-112 Pacquiao.

It is not so much about Duane Fordís scoring of Pacquiao as the winner itís his comical decision to award the Manny the final round. Mr Ford, of course, gave Jermain Taylor the last round in his first fight with Bernard Hopkins, despite Taylor virtually taking the round off, a bit like Pacquiao did.

This fight is set up for a third encounter and it will be a great pity if, as been reported than Manny will step up in weight, because for me, he definitely has unfinished business with the man he cannot yet say he got the better of.

So, in essence, Juan Manuel Marquez was not robbed by the judges on Saturday, he was robbed by the system. A system that favours knockout punchers over technical artists. But even without this system it is often doubtful that some judges would have appreciated his boxing skills.

Because his style doesnít necessarily put bums on seats the Mexican craftsman is just one of the slew of unlucky technicians whose skills are often appreciated by only by the minority.

These days big fight judges are the kinds of guys that would have scored the Battle Of the Little Bighorn a tie, considers Eyes Wide Shut to be Kubrickís masterpiece and thinks Ringo the most talented member of The Beatles.

Because after all, they are the judges, weíre just fans. Their position in this argument is far more important than oursÖitís a pity they lean towards fighters merely because they make more money at the box office.

Boxing is a business of course, but first and foremost it is a Ďsportí. And above all else sport has to be objective and fair. But we constantly get the feeling it isnít, and thatís a pity because itís fighters like Juan Manuel Marquez who suffer. Their crime? Simply being great at their profession.

Article posted on 24.03.2008



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