“YOU’RE FIRED!” —Judges Need Firing and System Needs Fixing
No, that's not Donald Trump looking into a mirror under candid reflection while offering words of relief. If boxing is to address the big elephant in the ring, the judging system has to change. Now.
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“I don't know what the judges are looking at. When I fought Canelo Alvarez, one of the judges had him winning. This is bad for boxing. I may not come back to New York after this. Something isn’t right. Are they (the judges) being paid under the table? I just want to be treated fair. This is happening because of my flamboyance.”
—Floyd “Money” Mayweather, visibly upset in the aftermath of Badou Jack V James Degale
No Floyd, it is happening because of a lack of vision. The same vision judge CJ Ross had when turning in a comedic 114-114 scorecard at the end of Mayweather V Canelo (she didn't have Canelo actually winning, but we get the point). Very few fans and media present at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on January 15 thought IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale deserved a majority draw with “regular” WBC belt-holder Badou Jack. Jack basically belted DeGale for the duration after a rough opening stanza, but the judges had other ideas.
2017 has been a spectacular year for boxing by and large. We've seen the arrival of Errol Spence Jr and the ascendance of Terence Crawford. A spectacular exit for classy champions Andre Ward and Wladimir Klitschko from opposite sides of the spectrum. The thunderous introductions of Srisket Sor Rungvisai and Naoye Inoue. And of course, the enigmatic wunderkind Vasyl Lomachenko.
Fortunately for all of them, they haven't needed any judges to validate their brilliance- whether in victory or defeat, because that may have darkened things.
Everyone knows Manny Pacquiao should've really defeated Jeff Horn in Australia once the judges got involved. Clearly, there was an agenda in place to honk Horn at the expense of Pac-man's legend justice be damned. Then, this past Saturday at Manchester Arena in London, we witnessed Joseph Parker get two preposterous scores of 118-110 in his favor against a cagey Hughie Fury.
The fight was terrible, but made worse when it became clear, once again, that some of these judges apparently score the fight before it happens. Boxing, unlike any other major sport, is antiquated when it comes to new age protocol.
FIGHTERS KNOW FIGHTS
ESPN's colorful analyst Teddy Atlas turned bright red and nearly had a heart attack on air following the shameful draw between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez on September 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. He screamed corruption; citing past incidents involving magical sums of money appearing in bank accounts and fraudulent officials at the top of ruling bodies.
Most casual fans now know the optically challenged Adelaide Byrd, who trended for the wrong reasons following her skid mark stained scorecard of 118-110 for Canelo. That glaring travesty becomes more clear when other headscratching scores for a star like Alvarez gets taken into consideration. Sorry Canelo, but here's a sample:
Austin Trout, 118-110
Miguel Cotto, 119-109
Erislandy Lara, 117-111
Throw in the egregious scores he received against Mayweather and Golovkin and we have a pattern. There are many others to cite, but we'd run out of time.
Paulie Malignaggi, former two division world champion and talented SHOWTIME analyst, scored Canelo V Golovkin 117-111 in favor of GGG. Because he's obviously qualified to turn in his point of view, it would make far more sense to have former fighters as officials.
Even if you didn't agree with a verdict– the culpability in discriminating ring knowledge would resonate differently because of sourcing. Who better than a former fighter to understand the more effective ring general? Not only that, but it would bind many fighters to the sport beyond their ring careers, allowing them to earn income they deserve.
For largely older – and invariably, non-ring combatants – to sit on the ring apron as they have for decades (surrounded by officials of a different kind) to judge a fight from the same angle(s), isn't really fair for them or boxing. The NFL, NBA and MLB made necessary changes to improve fair play for fans. So should boxing.
Gennady Golovkin V Daniel Jacobs was a classic at Madison Square Garden that the judges got right, although Jacobs performed extremely well in defeat. Because I had an aerial view of that fight from inside the arena, it was easy to see that Golovkin was imposing himself more throughout. That affect was greater to see against Canelo.
THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN
This issue in boxing is as polarizing as the 45th POTUS in this divided and fractured nation. It is the uncle named Tom with no nephews in a colorful urban landscape of raised eyebrows.
Boxing fans, in a minority driven sport, are sick of being taken for granted by an establishment trying to offer an outright set up– or just simply ‘setting up' a rematch at their expense.
Fortunately for boxing, in response to the UFC/MMA penchant for high quality match-ups, boxing promoters and networks have greatly improved matchmaking to attract a younger audience to a new generation of stars.
It may be wise to accept a new set of eyes to judge things in the future.