In the wake of the controversy surrounding the scoring of this past Saturday night's bout between Brandon Rios and Richard Abril, I reached out to Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer. Given that a simple Google Search for the fight returned headlines calling the scoring "theft," a "robbery," "disgraceful" and many other not-so-pleasant things, I figured Kizer may have something to say.
Not surprisingly, I was not the first to reach out to Keith today and he was certainly aware that the scoring not well received by the boxing public and media.
My first question was if a heavy hammer would be dropped on judges Jerry Roth and Glenn Trowbridge, similar to the suspension New Jersey handed down for the judges involved in the horrible robbery of Erislandy Lara, who lost a majority decision to Paul Williams despite roundly dominating the fight.
"Personally, I didn't see anything wrong with the judging. I think a lot of the rounds were 'carbon copies' of one another so if you didn't appreciate the style of Abril, you were probably going to score the fight somewhat wide for Brandon Rios. If you did think Abril was doing enough, then you probably saw...saw it for Abril by a big margin" Kizer explained.
When asked to clarify if that meant no action for the judges involved, Kizer made it clear that there would be no action taken. "I can see scoring it wide either way. There won't be any action taken as I was there at the fight and don't have any problems with the way the fight was scored. Adalaide Byrd and Glenn Trowbridge (ed note: I didn't clarify with him but I assume he meant Jerry Roth) scored it wide each way. Byrd had nine rounds for Abril, Trowbridge had eight for Rios but they saw the majority of the rounds the same."
I also asked what protocol is in a situation where two judges score the fight so different and the fight is seen as so controversial by fans and media, are judges asked to explain the way they scored the fight so it lines up with judging guidelines? "We had a meeting after the fight with all the officials and went over the fight. I generally think it's a good idea with how easy it is to find fights now...on YouTube or somewhere online or by watching the pay-per-view replay and see the fight from all the different angles. That's good for the judges to do. And for the ref too."
Kizer also said things a few times along the lines of the fight looking "different live" than it did on TV. That's something that Kevin Iole also suggested in his most recent column "Brandon Rios got a gift over Richard Abril, but the fix was not in":
Unlike some who were watching on television and weren't in the arena, it wasn't a runaway rout. There were a lot of rounds which were difficult to score because the fighters competed at close range a lot and there weren't a tremendous amount of clean punches landed by either man. Power is scored in professional boxing and Abril's punches didn't have a lot of pop.
Still, he landed more and deserved the decision, but it's hardly as if Frankie and Blinky came back from the grave to order Roth and Trowbridge to score the bout their way.
When there are bad calls in the NFL, say, the first inclination of fans, team owners and executives and media is not to suggest the outcome is rigged.
There are two things that I want to address here and Kevin covering them both in such a short span of words benefits me greatly (thanks, Kev!).
First, this is why the idea of judges being given monitors has picked up so much steam in the mixed martial arts community. It's understandable that small sized shows can't afford to have multiple camera angles to broadcast to monitors, but for world title fights with this kind of budget there's really no excuse to not provide judges with monitors to use to provide views of the best available angle.
In 2012 there's not really any reason judges are allowed to score fights blatantly wrong because live, without a monitor, you could only see that the fighters were in close and Rios hits harder so he gets the advantage. The technology exists at such an amazing level at this point in history and too much is at stake to simply say "well, live it's hard to see a lot of what happens."
As for the other sports not having everyone suggest that bad calls are the product of game fixing?
It's pretty simple. In boxing it's always the "promotional darling" that gets the gift. You don't go into a football game between the Packers and the Vikings thinking "well, the NFL really wants Green Bay to win, so if it's a close game they're going to be gifted a win." Rare is the fighter with a great deal of money and promotion behind him the one on the receiving end of the robbery. Richard Abril was nobody's darling, he was a late replacement matched up against Brandon Rios on a PPV that was supposed to be a part of setting up a major fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. No one watching would have gone in with the assumption that a close fight would be scored for Abril. In fact, a flat-out not close fight wasn't scored for Abril. And the fact that it isn't surprising is the issue.
Regardless of if Top Rank is happy or angry or whatever with Brandon Rios for his weight issues and the bad fight, he's the one they have the investment in and he's the one everyone knew would get the nod if the fight went to the cards.
The sheer amount of times that this happens makes it enough that it is exhausting. When it's not Lara getting robbed against Williams, it's Campillo getting shafted against Cloud, or it's Abril being jobbed against Rios. It's never ending, it's predictable and it's enough.
There's no valid way, no matter how Kizer attempted to spin it when I talked to him, for a fight to be "correctly" scored 117-111 one way and 112-116 the other. There is a scoring criteria and, if it is being enforced, one would think the scores would be pretty close across the board, not that two of the judges saw nearly half the rounds differently. And that, yet again, the disputed judging just happened to favor the guy with the most money behind him.
It's not acceptable and it's getting impossible for me to think that these state athletic commissions are fit for the job. We see the NSAC drag Victor Ortiz in to take him to task for saying something stupid in an interview, where we all know that it's just a dog and pony show, but they never take any steps to make the public feel like the game is level. Because it's much more important to have a big fancy meeting where everyone looks tough than it is to protect the integrity of the sport and make the fans feel comfortable spending their money on the sport.
It's just too much at this point and, as Scott pointed out the night of Rios/Abril, there's no need to wonder where the boxing audience went when these situations just keep happening and no one does anything to stop them.