In an entertaining night of boxing at the Toyota Center in Houston on Saturday night, WBO Junior World Middleweight champion Jaime Munguia went the distance and ultimately defended his belt against Takeshi Inoue by unanimous decision.
Judges’ scorecards for the fight were 120-108 (twice) and 119-109.
When the cards were announced, there was fury on social media that ran something like this, “Sure, Munguia won, but this was a close fight!”
And of course, this was followed by the ongoing prejudice against the state of Texas where select fans purport that scorecards in Texas are always wrong.
I would love to see something from the boxing community, whether it’s promoters, trainers or even judges themselves, that helps educate fans in the area of scoring. Not only would this help all of us understand how difficult judging a fight can be (thus allowing us to put down our pitchforks from time to time), but it would also teach us the basics of scoring a boxing match.
A good example of this type of educational content would be Karla Kaputo’s “What I Have Learned From Scoring 528 Fights as a Boxing Judge.” Now, I’ve never done what Kaputo has, but here’s what I do know: Even a very close fight can end up with very wide cards.
Let’s take a 12-round fight. Here’s how fans, including myself, typically score the fight: holistically. I watch an entire fight and then at the end I give my opinion of who I think won the entire match.
That is not how official scoring goes.
A ringside judge actually scores a match by picking the winner of 12 individual rounds. Each round is like its own individual fight, and whoever wins the majority of those fights, wins the match.
Saturday night we all saw a heck of scrap in Munguia-Inoue, with two fighters giving their all in each and every round. Holistically, many saw this as a close fight with Munguia ultimately taking the win.
Then came the scorecards. The scorecards had Munguia as the winner but were also what is described as “wide” in that two judges gave Munguia every round and one judge gave him all but one.
Where the issue arises is with how those scores are perceived. Many see wide scores and assume that it means the winning fighter easily won the fight. But hold on. That’s not always the case. In a close fight, a judge can score all 12 rounds for the same fighter. That doesn’t mean the fight was any less close. It just means that a particular judge thought a particular fighter edged out his opponent in every round.
And that’s what I saw on Saturday night. I saw Munguia edge out his opponent in almost every round. It was a hard fought win for Munguia, and the scorecards being wide doesn’t take anything away from Inoue or the fight itself.
The point is this: Scorecards can’t tell you how close a fight was. Their sole purpose is to determine the winner of the match. That’s it.
So how do we educate fans and media about scoring? Well, we can start with more pieces like this. But really I’d like to see those with larger platforms use them for education. Rather than having commentators stall with empty chatter when consecutive fights end in early knockouts, let’s have some prepared pieces and monologues ready to go about fundamental aspects of the sport.
And there’s nothing more fundamental than understanding what scorecards can and cannot tell you about a fight, even a fight as amazing and compelling as the one we saw Saturday night in Munguia vs. Inoue.
Rachel McCarson cohosts a YouTube boxing show, entitled “Real Talk with Kelsey and Rachel”. Follow her @Rachel_McCarson.