Steve Weisfeld has good eyes, the man evaluates what he sees in a boxing ring very, very well.
He could very well be the best in the business, judging winning and losing in rounds of boxing matches, in fact.
But Tim Cheatham, and David Sutherland? Well, no offense intended, but if I belong to Team Sergey Derevyanchenko I wouldn't be jumping for joy that Cheatham, from Las Vegas, and Sutherland, from Oklahoma, will be tasked with scoring the Jermall Charlo v Derevyanchenko middleweight title fight from Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT tonight.
Let me not conjure false gravity, here, I'm not saying the Derevyanchenko gang should be screaming to the heavens, or even grumbling with conviction…But…..
Weisfeld treks from Jersey to Connecticut with solid creds, I don't know of anyone who has a beef with him as an arbiter. And that's saying something; boxing fans would have been critiquing Christ's beard had the internet been in play back in that day.
Critiquing judges' scorecards too often, though, is not simply to be dismissed as idle whining. Of course, judging a prize fight is as subjective an exercise as one can find, but time and again and yet again, you will watch a bout, and have to pick your jaw off the rug when the judges render their verdict.
Cheatham is no CJ Ross, who had to retire after calling the Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez 2013 fight a draw.
If I am with the Derevyanchenko posse, however, I won't like that Cheatham went with the more known talent in the Mario Barrios versus Batyr Akhmedov fight, in 2019. Barrios snagged a UD12 win, by scores of 116-111, 115-111, and 114-112, despite the fact that CompuBox during the Errol Spence-Shawn Porter undercard action saw Akhmedov outlanding the 140 pounder Barrios 238-135. Akhmedov was 7-0 entering, Barrios 24-0. Plenty of reporters deemed the decision some version of terrible and the WBA ordered a rematch. Cheatham at Staples Center in LA turned in the 115-111 card for the “favorite.”
Two weeks before that, the Las Vegas resident Cheatham once again watched the better-known boxer with perhaps too kind eyes. He saw the Tyson Fury-Otto Wallin fight 118-110 for Fury, an 8 point margin, while his mates had Fury ahead by 6 and by 4 points. Cheatham started as a pro in 2009, and has edged up the ladder to where he started getting juicier assignments in the beginning of 2019.
Sutherland is on the books as a pro since 2002. He gets invited out of town to do work, and he got the gig to process the Feb. 99, 2020 Mikey Garcia v Jessie Vargas fight in Texas, in fact. Sutherland liked the work of Vargas more than his mates did. He saw Garcia winning by a singe point, while the other lads had Mikey winning by five points. OK, if I'm the Derevyanchenko posse, I like that respect for the B side.
One cannot and should not read anything into it that Sutherland (and Cheatham) worked a Jermell Charlo fight, on Dec. 21, 2019 in Cali. The Oklahoma man had Jermell ahead 96-93, when Harrison got stopped out in round 11 of that sequel scrap, while Cheatham, for what it is worth, saw Harrison up by one point when the stoppage occurred. And there was nothing untoward about Sutherland scoring it 119-109 for Jermall Charlo over Brandon Adams on June 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas.
Sutherland was impressed by Derevyanchenko when he saw him ahead 109-100 at the point the Ukraine native stopped Tureano Johnson in 2017, you will know.
That Weisfeld saw Brooklyn native Danny Jacobs as the better man when Derevyanchenko battled the Ukraine pugilist Oct. 27, 2018 was no scandal. I thought 8-4 for Jacobs was well within the bounds of reason at the Madison Square Garden Theater, and Weisfeld scored it 115-112 for Jacobs.
My three cents: Boxing fans not infrequently go overboard with their reactions when they disagree with the decision. The “R” word, “robbery,” gets over-used.
I have no reason to believe that we will be talking about the Jermall Charlo Showtime pay per view title defense against Sergiy Derevyanchenko on Sunday because the Weisfeld, Cheatham and Sutherland trio, or some portion of them, got it wrong. But I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that if I'm Andre Rozier, I lean toward encouraging my guy to push for a stoppage. That's no slur against any one judge, mind you. It's merely a nod toward how history repeats itself, and the more heralded “A side” too often gets the benefit of the doubts in tight rounds.
I shouldn't have to put this out there, it should go without saying, but anyway…The stakes are such in boxing that the athletes deserve the utmost competence from those seated ringside and weighing in deciding the winner and the loser. Here's hoping we are not bringing up those names, Weisfeld, Cheatham or Sutherland, come Sunday.