Today is Thursday, we are just two days away from a compelling prize fight pitting a sitting Senator against one of the most colorful but oft-troubled fighters in the game today.
Manny Pacquiao vs Adrien Broner. The fighting politician, who is seeing how 40 feels as a fighter, against the Ohio native who has stacked up brushes with law enforcement about as high as they can go before he approaches having to do time.
Yes, this is the word of boxing, theater of the unexpected, where the sublime and the ridiculous cohabitate and take turns enthralling and enraging us.
Speaking of enraging, what are the chances that you tune in to watch that Pacman vs Broner event, take in the main event, wait for the judges’ decision to be rendered, and then find yourself shouting expletives at your screen because one or more of the arbiters turned in a scorecard that defies common sense, wisdom, and decency?
Sad to say, there’s a real good chance of that, being that Pacquiao’s power pack waned after 2009-2010, and Broner was best suited to 135 pounds and his power at 147 is middling.
Yes, friends, hate to break it to you but there’s a better than good chance this one goes to the scorecards.
And we hardcores know when that happens, it basically feels like the exception, not the norm, when the judges get it right. We leave feeling happy, by and large, if they pick the right winner, even if the scorecards are loopy as far as margins of victory; or if one judge, maybe under the influence of the brown acid or who knows what, turns in a card which suggests they should be banned from boxing, if not driving a car as well.
I touched base with WBC boxing boss Mauricio Sulaiman, and asked him about judging, and what he thinks could and should be done so aberrant scorecards and ludicrous decisions become the exception, not the norm.
Sulaiman appeared on the Everlast “Talkbox” podcast, and I asked how he saw the Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury fight, which most watchers watched and came away thinking Fury deserved the W, though he was knocked down twice.
”Only three persons can be asked about the scores, those are the judges. Every single person outside of the judge has a completely different evaluation,” he said. The judges have the very best seat to watch and score, and the fans and even media have “a bias” in favor of one fighter or another, he shared.
”The judge should not be hung over or taking a nice beer during the fight,” he said, tongue a bit in cheek. That’s OK for fans, but not the arbiters.
Sulaiman said that the Dec. 1 Fury-Wilder fight was “very close, very entertaining and highly dramatic, and my belief is that the draw at the end was a fair result.”
The 115-111 scorecard in favor of Wilder, turned in by Alejandro Rochin, drew mass scorn. I asked Sulaiman about the card from the Mexican-born California resident. He said that the Rochin scorecard was analyzed and reviewed, and he said a committee at the WBC gives each judge and the ref a rating. Wilder won the first four rounds on the Rochin card, said the WBC boss, that’s why he saw the Alabaman the better pugilist and he stated he understands how a fan gets upset at the discrepancy in tallies.
He himself said in the past he has been known to get irked at decisions by refs when watching a match. Sulaiman wants to work to fix things in boxing, “but we do not work together.” He cited instant replay as something that could be useful to help eliminate muddy moments in bouts. Also, he thinks open scoring, sharing score tallies after the fourth and eighth rounds, can help clarify events. “We want to put four or five judges in very important fights,” he continued. Five judges will help weed out one aberrant card, he said.
State and commission choices in choosing officials has to be improved; “many fights they are appointed by the local commissions and that’s when the problems occur,” Sulaiman said. “Every fight there should be neutral country ring officials, but that does not happen,” he continued.
Judges shouldn’t be appointed because of nepotism or good looks. He went on, saying, ”We do not have an outlet for the news. So an interview like this one is very rare. All the fans know about the organizations what the press says, and most of the time it is negative.”
More Sulaiman: local commissions sometimes act like they are doing a favor in allowing a WBC official to perform oversight. He said that in the past, it seemed easier to make positive changes, like making fights 12 instead of 15 rounds, and losing same-day weigh-in. The changes that happened “in the 80s and before maybe today could not happen,” the chief said.
My three cents: I like the idea of having five judges working on the very high profile bouts. Also, having a rating and scoring system, which allows the masses to better know who turns in the best cards, would be a no-brainer uplifter to the current system. What are other ideas you have to make it so loopy scorecards become much more rare? Because, to be sure, scorecards that are controversial work heavily against the growth of the sport. Casual fans think that the judges are corrupt and if the sport faces that POV, then growth is exceedingly hard to achieve. Let’s virtually clasp hands and say a little mantra together, that the three judges are all on message that night, and all their eye exams are current.
Woods, a Brooklyn resident, was a staff writer at NY Newsday, before joining ESPN The Magazne (2003-2011). He edited TheSweetScience.com (2007-20015), publishes NYFights.com, calls fights for Facebook Fightnight Live and does the “Talkbox” podcast for Everlast.