First ask yourself this - Are you a real Boxing fan or just someone who likes to casually watch big events? If you’re a real fan then educate as many casual fans you come across. If you’re a casual fan, pay close attention to this...
Football, Basketball, Hockey, and Baseball have referees and umpires and sometimes the decisions they make can have an impact on the outcome of the game. It’s the human element that makes sports so exciting and unpredictable. We accept it no matter how much we disagree. Sometimes it’s in our favor and sometimes it goes the other way. To use a Boxing term; you roll with the punches. That night in the arena I had scored a clean sweep for Pacquiao, but after watching it again Sunday morning (without alcohol), I scored it 10 rounds to 2 for Pacquiao. The three judges saw the fight 7-5, one for Pacquiao and two for Bradley. Most viewers, whether in the arena or at home, did not see a close fight at all.
When referees and judges interfere with the public perspective of a Boxing match the consensus outcry seems to always be; the sport is dying, or you’re done watching fights, or it must be fixed. That’s non sense. Why do “fans” think this way? ESPN is a big problem on how people view the sport. They don’t cover the sport enough, so when they do, most people don’t know what they are talking about. Comments like “Boxing just committed suicide” from ESPN anchor Linda Cohn after the fight are the biggest problem. If you’re not familiar with the sport stop trying to be an expert. Listening to Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith speak on Boxing is like having Teddy Atlas tell you what’s wrong with Tiger Woods’ golf swing at The Master’s. Find an expert to educate the public, instead of the famous annoying rants that Boxing is dying.
Example: For the most part, Baseball refuses to use instant replay technology to help umpires during games. Did you hear an outcry of fans saying Baseball was “committing suicide” when umpire Jim Joyce robbed Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga of a Perfect Game last year? He blew an obvious and yet easy call with 2 outs in the ninth inning. It happens in every sport, a referee has blown a call and cost a team a victory. You don’t turn around and say I’m never watching football again because the referee unjustly called pass interference in the fourth quarter and cost my team a win. You don't hear, “I’m done with Football!”, do you? So why is it okay to blame Boxing when a referee or an incompetent judge presents himself?
What it boils down to is very simple. Some boxing judges have proved over and over that they are inconsistent, incompetent, and incapable of doing their duties as a judge. The officials in the other major sports are evaluated and graded by their performances. Considering those grades they are given either higher quality games or dropped out to minor assignments. You don’t get inconsistent refs or umpires in the Super Bowl or World Series. They put their best officials in those games based on their evaluations. In Boxing, the judges are not evaluated at all. Therefore, they keep getting assignments they don’t deserve. How do we fix this?
Since Boxing doesn’t have an International Commission to regulate the sport then how can we hold the judges accountable? First, let me say it’s not open scoring, that is a horrible idea. Let’s make them famous by their actions. Most fans don’t know what the judges look like or even remember their names. There is a big disconnect with the audience. Every judge should walk their scorecards themselves into the ring and stand next to Michael Buffer or Jimmy Lennon as their scorecards are being announced. Put a face and a name for the viewing public to remember. It will leave an impact on their reputation as well as the state’s commission that assigned those judges. If they keep under performing it will be noted. Even with the big outcry in this fight the average guy on the street doesn’t know the three judges names are Jerry Roth, Duane Ford, and C.J. Ross; they especially don't know what they look like.
Back in 1990, when Richard Steele stopped the Julio Cesar Chavez vs Meldrick Taylor fight, the public remembered Steele’s face and name. Meldrick Taylor was clearly winning the fight, but Chavez rallied back and dropped Taylor with 17 seconds in the fight. As Steele counted, Taylor stood up, Steele asked Taylor twice, “Are you alright?”, Taylor did not respond twice and looked away. Steele made the decision to stop the fight with only 3 seconds left. Chavez greatest victory and one the sport’s most memorable comebacks. Taylor supporters were outraged.
Steele was given all the big assignments in Nevada in those days. That all changed after that fight. Conspirators began to instigate that Richard Steele was in Chavez’ promoter Don King’s pocket. He was seen less and less after that night and Mills Lane became the front runner for big events. Richard Steele was a very good and competent referee, but because he was held accountable for his actions everywhere he went, the public did not forget his face or his name. The Nevada State Athletic Commission is doing more to back these incompetent judges now then they should have done for Richard Steele back then. When you have repeated bad performances you need to make a change and demote them, when it’s one isolated incident you grade it and file it.
Accountability is required for officials in every sport and Boxing should not be any different. However, the sport of Boxing is not to blame, it’s those that are in position to make a difference and that haven’t taken the steps to make it better that are at fault. As true fans you don’t boycott the sport, you demand a change. Many fans don’t agree with NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell all the time, but they don’t blame Football when they don’t agree with his penalties. They don’t say Football is dying because their fining players for violent hits. They don’t like it, but trust me Football is not dead or dying. That’s absurd to even think that. It’s time to make these bad judges accountable for their actions, and if they are consistently incapable of giving a quality score then they should be casted out of the pro ranks and sent to learn their craft in the amateurs.
Boxing embodies the will to win like no other sport. Among its many attributes the simple ones stand out. The thrill and energy we receive from epic stare downs and overcoming adversity. The classic rivalries and larger than life personas that drew you into the sport with their charisma and honesty. Putting their lives on the line, the ultimate discipline, and the courageous performances that have embedded memories in fans minds and hearts. The legendary battles of Ali-Frazier, Morales-Barrera, Gatti-Ward, and Castillo-Corrales are violent works of art to be admired forever. There should not be a referee or a judge incompetent enough to abolish our admiration for the sport of Boxing.
If it does, just remember...
Boxing isn’t dead, your loyalty is.
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