The Brooklyn boy Zab Judah lost his title last night, by way of knock out. But, two things have got me thinking. The historic past of boxing gambling and our contemporary history of bad judging results.
Way back when boxing was all barely legal, boxing clubs would stage "friendly" exhibitions between two pugilists. It was illegal to bet on boxing so to discourage gambling, the results were not judged. That is not entirely true, of course. Everyone still judged for themselves and as you can guess they also still gambled. So. How did they decide the winner of their wagers? It was simple and elegant.
Typically two gentleman would pick their winning man in the ring, then check the next day's paper for how the fight was won. In this way, the journalistic integrity was the gold standard for betting. If two gamblers decided one journalist favored a certain fighter, they could agree to abide by the decision of a different newspaper. Meanwhile, if the newspaper declared a likely fix in a fight or deserved disqualification the gamblers could agree before hand that this report would nullify their bets.
Consider how this strategy would alter the accounting of the recent Devon Alexander victory over Lucas Matthyssee. If you gambled on Matthyssee in Las Vegas you would have lost money and you might feel cheated. However, if you bet with you friend based on how your favorite reporter saw the fight you might still have won your money.
Consider how this strategy would alter the accounting of the recent fight between Pawel Wolak and Delvin Rodriguez. If you bet in Vegas you would have perhaps gotten your money back depending on your wager. However, if you bet with your friend based on how Teddy Atlas scored the fight you might have gained or lost money.
Now, please consider the case of this recent fight between Amir Khan and Jab Judah because it illustrates a finer point and sets the stage for a larger proposal. In this July 23rd fight, all of the judges, the referee, the ringside commentators, and journalists agree that Khan won. They also agree that Khan won by Knock Out in the fifth round. But, depending on who you read there is either controversy or consensus that Judah was faking a low blow to his groin. Let's take a look at a sampling of prominent writers and what they said.
"Perhaps a little bit of Khan’s glove strayed below the belt as he twisted the powerful shot into Judah’s pelvis. " -Doug Fischer, The Ring Magazine
"Replays showed the knockout punch was clearly a clean shot, even if Judah and Main Events promoter Kathy Duva did not agree." -Dan Rafael, ESPN
"No matter what kind of excuse Judah tries to cook up, there was no disputing what had occurred in the first four rounds and the 2½ minutes of the fifth that preceded the fight-ending punch."
"Judah's explanation is weak and full of holes, and for anyone possibly wondering if there's controversy, no, there really isn't. At the very worst, it was a borderline low blow, but it was right on the belt line, so it just wasn't a low blow. The prevailing wisdom immediately after the fight, and continuing into today, is that Judah was looking for a way out. He didn't come up with a particularly good one, at least combined with the post-fight protest of the punch."-Scott Christ, BAD LEFT HOOK
I agree that Judah was KO'd in the 5th round of the fight by a fair body shot. And, as you can see most people agree. However, Sport Illustrated reports in their headline that there is "controversy" over the low blow which is weak journalism. Having a writer simply collect the opinions and sometimes lies of others doesn't really contribute to reporting the truth. And, in fact it can distort the truth, suggesting in this case,controversy where there should be none.
It is for this reason, among others, that I suggest these writers and their respective institutions for your boxing results like the days of old. I am not suggesting that we must gamble like the old New Yorkers did in order to enjoy boxing, but I am suggesting it is better practice to trust your favorite writer over judges and officials.
There are flaws with this proposal, a few crucial ones include:Modern writers do not write for this specific reason, so they might not cover the fight you want to have judged. They might not report their score card. They might not declare an opinion even when they dissent with the official one.
It’s not ideal.
Recently, there has been some excitement about how as a society we should "repair the damage done by corporations" by taking more personal ownership of our culture. This is specific reference to copyrights and intellectual property, however there are many parallels with these movements and the world of the boxing. Boxing fans often share internet streams of fights, they share bootlegs of fights, and they edit their fan videos without proper consent.
In a small and legal way, I am suggesting we, the boxing audience, turn away from viewing fights as charades manipulated by corrupt or inept officials, fighters, and promoters. I am suggesting we circumvent the system by encouraging our friends to judge fights for themselves and to turn towards the people they trust.
The quotes above and sourced articles are a kind of Rosetta Stone, I hope that fans will consider these as their "official" judges. And, to this end, I am planning on posting their scores for major fights in this manner, to help us all settle our bets.