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BWAA takes aim at bad officiating

Some recent fights have the BWAA taking a new stance on officiating in boxing.


Here’s some good news, not fake news foolishness.

You and me both know, if we have been boxing fans for any length of time, horrific decisions rendered by blatantly errant scorecards turned in by judges is a consistent negative theme in our sport.

The sport is already working off the back foot, in retreat, because it features two human beings punching each other, for sport, for our entertainment.

So, there will be a certain segment of the polulation that will not be inclined to even consider watching. But, to those who do give the sweet and sometimes savage science a try, for them to take the time to watch an event, and then hear and see a decision which reeks of ineptitude or corruption — it’s a bad look for the sport.

We’ve heard bitching and moaning, and joking, about the CJ Rosses of the land, but here we have someone doing a little something about it. This effort has been put together by the BWAA to offer some accountability. Eyeballs, and pens, and keyboards, are now more squarely aimed at the bad actors, the judges whose scorecards defy reality. We are watching you, so please, do the right thing, judges!

Check out the release the BWAA, headed up by president Joe Santoliquito, sent out today:

The Boxing Writers Association of America has an obligation to boxing, so we would like to announce “THE BWAA OFFICIALS WATCH LIST,” a quarterly list that the BWAA will post in April, August and December here on the BWAA website. Much thought went into this decision, including the valued opinions from a combined group of over 30 BWAA members, general media, broadcast media, state commission and officials associated with professional boxing—who were in favor of this move.

The BWAA OFFICIALS WATCH LIST will begin each time with the preamble seen below explaining our protocol, followed by the formatted list, naming the judge, judges or referee, the fight outcome, date and place, complete with a brief explanation as to why a judge or referee is being placed on the list.


Boxing is a sport where ring judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter’s career and, in some instances, endanger lives.

The Boxing Writers Association of America is instituting a quarterly watch list with the intention of calling attention to what we believe are egregious errors in scoring by judges and conduct by referees that falls short of acceptable standards for refereeing

This list is not all-inclusive. It reflects instances of particularly poor performance that have been brought to our attention. We encourage all BWAA members and others to email their concerns regarding officiating to BWAA president Joseph Santoliquito at

Complaints should not be based on hearsay. In order to file a complaint, a person should actually have been in attendance or seen a video of the fight in question. All referrals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis involving a rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.



Laurence Cole, Dallas, Texas

Regis Prograis KO 8 Juan Jose Velasco, super lightweight, New Orleans, Louisiana, July 14, 2018: After round seven, Velasco told his trainer, Herman Caicedo, that he no longer wanted to continue. As translated from Spanish by ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, Caicedo told his charge, “What do you mean, you don’t want to go anymore? What’s wrong with you? Come on. You can’t give up on me now.” Caicedo then sent his fighter out for round eight.

Forty-five seconds into round eight, Velasco was knocked down for the third time in the fight and spat out his mouthpiece. He then stood up, shook his head, and walked away with his back to Prograis, indicating to referee Laurence Cole that he no longer wanted to fight. But instead of stopping the bout, Cole instructed Caicedo to rinse the mouthpiece and ordered that the fight continue. Less than ten seconds later, Velasco sank to the canvas after a glancing blow to the temple. Cole ruled it a slip, wiped Velasco’s gloves, and instructed that the beating resume. Finally, after another 35 seconds of unnecessary punishment, Caicedo threw in the towel and the fight ended.


Mike Contrera, Omaha, Nebraska

Jeff Sinnett, Omaha, Nebraska

Thomas Mattice W 8 Zhora Hamazaryan, lightweight, Sloan, Iowa, July 20, 2018: Hamazaryan dominated the bout, yet judges Mike Contrera and Jeff Sinnett each scored the fight 76-75 in favor of Mattice, giving him a split-decision “W.”

The fight was televised on ShoBox. ShoBox commentator Steve Farhood called the decision one of the worst in the history of the series, while his fellow Hall of Fame broadcaster Barry Tompkins called it the worst decision he has seen in forty years of covering boxing.

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