This article(s) may come off as a bit of a rant, perhaps it is. I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t voice what I view to be the two biggest obstacles facing our sport today and open a discussion for any creative solutions that might be available.
Judging: Boxing is a tough sport. The athletes put their bodies through hell, temper their mind through countless repetitions and miss out on many things that normal people get to enjoy (such simple things as food and drink) all for the entertainment of the fans. We as fans also funnel our hard earned money into the sport by buying tickets to shows, fan apparel and Pay-Per-View events. With all of the dangers and sacrifices made by the athletes/fans, you would think that the bout would be fought on an even playing field. It only seems fair that the better fighter should win if he/she performs better that night. More and more often however, we are seeing victory snatched from the deserved by “professional” Judges, you know the ones who get paid to perform the job of scoring the fight taking place 5-15 feet in front of their faces. Yet so often, it seems as if these judges are seeing a completely different fight than the one in front of them. Those judges are a disease to this sport, hurting the already bleeding credibility that boxing has left. They should be removed from their positions and replaced by more willing/competent personnel. I wouldn’t normally suggest something as serious as this, but the circumstances seem to justify such a change. Furthermore, while it is impossible to remove the subjective nature of scoring a fight, some type of criteria (clearer than “judge on ring generalship and effective punching”) should be implemented to make judging more streamlined and less open to interpretation. Here are a few instances from recent times (both amateur and professional) illustrating my point, and to keep me honest, I would welcome anybody to review the mentioned bouts (most available on Youtube; preferably with the sound muted to remove the influence of the crowd and commentary) and explain some of the judges scores to me.
*AIBA Certified Judge Seamus Kelly admitted that he was asked to score a bout a certain way before the bout ever took place in 2011 at an international tournament (reported to AIBA and has since been dismissed)
*2016 Olympic Games: numerous judges dismissed during the Olympics due to “questionable results” being submitted by said judges (see Michael Conlan vs. Vladimir Nikitin for an example of said judging)
*Feb 2016 Felix Sturm wins his bout against Fedor Chudinov by scores of 115-113 (twice) and 114-114. Chudinov landed over 100 more punches throughout the fight, and completely outclassed Sturm
*May 2016 Mike Dallas Jr. fought a great fight, hurting undefeated Dusty Harrison a few times and outlanding him completely. Fight was scored a draw.
*May 2017 Ryota Murata fights Hassan N’Dam for a World Title, and dominates the entire fight, only to lose by split decision. Murata dropped N’Dam and had him hurt multiple times. Furthermore, the judges scores were as wide as can be, 116-112 and 115-112 for N’Dam, while the judge without vision problems scored the bout an accurate 117-110 in favor of Murata. The fact that three judges watched this same fight and scored it this differently perfectly proves the issue here. There is an immediate rematch ordered to remedy a situation that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
These examples just scratch the surface, and I could give many more, but I’m more interested in any ideas to fix the problem. What do you think? Tune in for Part 2, which I will have posted soon. Let me know your feelings on Twitter @TheGreatToddman or email me at PugilistsParadise@columnist.com .