Judgment - Not Vision is the Unsettled Question Concerning Bradley's TKO Victory vs. Campbell

By Paul Strauss - There seems to be a large contingency of people demanding Referee David Mendoza's head on a charger. They seem to think Mendoza is incompetent, and clearly missed what everyone else in the world saw, which was a head butt administered (accidently) by Timothy Bradley against Nate Campbell.

The accompanying outrage has resulted in a resurgent demand for instant replay. The reasoning seems to be that if Mendoza (and possibly ringside officials) was allowed to view the replay in slow-motion, as fans and Monday Morning Quarterbacks were allowed to do, then he would have made what they feel should have been the correct call, and classified the cut eye as the result of an accidental head-butt.. The fight then would have been declared a NC or no decision because of Campbell's inability to continue. Problem solved through technology, ala NFL style replay.

However, the head-butt is not something Mendoza missed. In his post-fight interview, he specifically acknowledges having seen the head butt. But, right or wrong, in his opinion the cut and subsequent bleeding did not occur until a later punch was landed. In Mendoza's opinion, it was then the cut was opened and the bleeding started.

In the NFL's Instant Replay system a challenge is initiated by a coach tossing a flag. As a result the head official stops the clock, and takes up to a maximum of two minutes time to review and study a replay of the action involved with the play in question. Often times, the official will have the opportunity to view the play from different angles and in slow-motion, an advantage the official making the original call didn't have.

The head official's objective is to look for irrefutable evidence that the call made was done in error. If that evidence is found, then the on field official's call is reversed and there is no loss of time-out charged to the coach's team making the challenge.

The current thinking by many fans is a similar system could work in boxing, especially with alleged head-butts, low blows or other fouls. Maybe that would prove to be true, or maybe not. Consider how many times you have watched a fight, and witnessed what a fighter and his corner (and fans) thought was a questionable call, only to have them view a post fight replay, and remain unfazed by the visual evidence. For example, ask Rafael Marquez if he thinks he was knocked down in the last round of his third fight with Israel Vasquez? No matter how many times he (and his fans) watches replay of the film, his opinion will remain the same.

Go back a number of years and view film of the Roberto Duran and Ken Buchanan fight. Did Duran foul Buchanan? It depends upon whom you ask. Go back further yet to one of the most historical moments in boxing, the Long Count, and you will find fans still disagree about not just whether Tunney could have gotten up or not, but whether he was down for fourteen or maybe even seventeen seconds? Did Ali’s Anchor punch have sufficient force to knock out Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Maine, or did the Big Ugly Bear throw the fight? Referee Jersey Joe Walcott’s actions are yet another controversial story to be viewed on film. Another more recent example of viewing or reviewing film came during the recent Cintron versus Martinez fight when Max Kellman’s claimed to have the ability to see things in milliseconds……i.e. Cintron’s knee was off the canvas a millisecond before the count of ten? There are numerous other instances or examples concerning claims that arise about someone allegedly hit low, or while down (or going down)? The list is long and readers can offer their own examples.

In the Bradley versus Campbell fight, Referee Mendoza claims there was an ensuing punch after the head butt that caused the cut and bleeding. Fans have obviously watched the film and slow motion replays of the action, and clearly see the head-butt, and for many that is enough for them to come to a conclusion that it caused the cut and resulting vision problems for Campbell.

However, fans and Campbell's representatives won't be determining whether Referee Mendoza's decision to stop the fight on a TKO was correct or should be reversed to a NC. At this point, it isn't a given that anyone in authority will honor Campbell's appeal. If they do decide to review the matter, it's a good bet that something along the lines of NFL replay challenge will be conducted. In other words, it won't simply be a matter of confirming that there was a head butt. That's not in dispute. Mendoza acknowledges there was a head butt. The investigation will undoubtedly center more on the validity of Referee's Mendoza's explanation of why he did what he did.

Specifically, Referee Mendoza claims there was a Bradley punch that landed after the head-butt occurred, and that that is what caused the cut, resulting bleeding and impairment of vision. The film will have to be viewed with that in mind. Many punches were thrown after the head butt. Did one cause the damage? Did one contribute to the damage? Did a punch cause the cut, but was it the impact of the head-butt that caused the vision problems (not blood in the eye), which Campbell explains is what made him decide to quit?

If a hearing is conducted, there obviously will be a need for expert medical testimony. Can medical experts help with the decision making process by offering in evidence their expert opinion one way or the other that Referee Mendoza's opinion was correct? In other words, when a head-butt occurs, does the blood always immediately start to flow? Or, can there be a second or two time delay before the claret starts becoming visible? Was a landed punch administered with sufficient force to cause the damage? Can a glancing arm-punch be just as damaging, or even more so if it strikes the right spot at the right angle (uppercut)?

Is it necessary that medical testimony comes from someone who has acted as a ringside physician, or would it be wiser to obtain a specialist's opinion, or both? What if they disagree? Who pays for all of the expenses associated with a review? If Campbell is forced to pay for his experts' testimony, and then is successful in getting Referee Mendoza's TKO decision overturned, is he then reimbursed by the governing body or others in authority? (Don't ask Attorney/Promoter Bob Arum, because he still wants the revocation of Margarito's license overturned.)

Getting back to the possibility of instituting instant replay into a live bout, how would it be accomplished? Would the referee be the one to decide if it was necessary? If not just him, then who else should have the authority? Should officials review the replay film after time has been stopped? If time is called, how much time should be allotted for review? Should reviews be done only in between rounds? Or, should the review be done only at the end of the fight? How many cameras should be employed, and at what angles should they be used? What about the aspect of giving a hurt fighter an unwarranted rest when time is stopped for the review? Would that be fair to his opponent?

To many fans this is a simple matter. They see a head butt, and feel enough said. Wouldn't it be great if agreement could be so easily reached, with no controversy or animosity? If that were the case, then there would be no need for political debates and endless campaign speeches, and we could eliminate the need for attorneys, and sports talk radio and TV shows.

Not to be outdone, someone adding a comment to this article will undoubtedly add .....”There would be no need for writers or bloggers either.”

Well, that isn't the world we live in, and thankfully so, because it would be pretty boring, so weigh in with your two cents and build your case!

Article posted on 08.08.2009

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