The scoring of boxing matches is not an exact science but over the years there have been several questionable scorecards handed in by experienced judges which appear way out to the consensus.
Only recently on September 10 in Tucson, Arizona, Oscar Valdez retained his WBC junior lightweight belt against Robson Conceicao on a unanimous 12-round points decision with scores of 115-112 twice, and the third judge Stephen Blea handed in a scorecard of 117-110 which many observers felt was far too wide.
Last Saturday in Tshwane, South Africa’s Tommy Oosthuizen returned to action after 30 months to score a majority points decision over Youssouf Kasongo Mwanza from the DRC with scores of 80-74, 78-74 and 76-76.
Speaking to an experienced boxing analyst who was at the fight, he advised that there was no doubt that Oosthuizen deserved the decision but the scores of 80-74 and 76-76 were not a true reflection of the fight.
Blea, who has been in boxing as a ring official in both the amateur and professional fields for more that 30 years, sent a letter to the Fightnews.com boxing website and advised “I have watched the fight and thoroughly analysed it, (my) 117-110 score is not accurate and does not represent the actions in the ring and I feel I have let down my federation the NABF, my organisation the WBC, and most importantly our sport and the fighters inside the ring.”
However, it is easy to criticise him but that is what he observed from ringside, rightly, or wrongly.
In his letter he mentions things like close rounds, crowd noise influence, getting stuck on one fighter which are valid.
There have been many debatable decisions and scorecards handed in by judges over the years and at times there have been claims of corruption and of judges giving a hometown decision
There have been several debatable decisions in big fights like the Oscar De La Hoya win over Felix Sturm by unanimous decision, Felix Trinidad win over Oscar De La Hoya by majority decision, Sugar Ray Leonard draw with Thomas Hearns, Joe Louis’s win over Jersey Joe Walcott by split decision, Julio Cesar Chavez’s draw with Pernell Whitaker, Shannon Briggs’s win over George Foreman by majority decision, Evander Holyfield’s draw with Lennox Lewis.
There are a number of factors where fans can be misled by commentators. Fans watching a live fight can also be misled because of where they are sitting in the arena.
Watching a fight on television and sitting ringside is not the same.
Fans who watch in the comforts of their sitting rooms may not always concentrate as closely as the judges because there are distractions like commercials between rounds and they could possibly be distracted as they eat or talk while watching the fights.
It has also been suggested that some experienced ringside commentators could ruin a judge’s career with their comments during or after a fight.
Judges can also be influenced by their surroundings with fans cheering for the local fighter when he lands a scoring punch or even makes an aggressive move.
It has been suggested in some quarters that judges should wear earmuffs to block out the noise and outside distractions.
There is no doubt that boxing is the most difficult sport to score with so many influences like personal likes, commentators, noise in the arena and many more.
Perhaps boxing organisations should have a file and profile on every judge, and record every card handed in by him or her to note if there’s an arbitrating pattern that has developed over the course of the judge’s assessments.
Is there a review of scorecards on an ongoing basis by the organisations or controlling bodies?When the third judge hands in a card with a score that is much wider than the other two judges; is this reviewed and taken up with the judge? – SuperSport