Josh Taylor had some choice words for the NSAC officials in charge of officiating and judging this past Saturday’s undisputed super-lightweight unification.
Speaking to a member of iFL TV, Taylor stated that while he had not yet re-watched it, he was unhappy with the performance of Bayless and the judges overseeing his fight against Jose Ramirez.
“I haven’t seen it yet. I mean, 114-112, it’s a disgrace. It should have been stopped. Even the first count was long, the second one was about twenty seconds.
“But listen, it is what it is. I beat five people there on Saturday. I beat three stinking judges, I beat Kenny Bayless, and then I beat Ramirez. So if I didn’t knock him down twice, I’d have lost that fight. It’s a joke isn’t it.”
To clarify, without those two knockdowns the fight would have been scored a draw, not a win for Ramirez. Many people did score the bout wider in favor of Taylor, and admittedly my own 114-112 tally for Taylor gave Ramirez the benefit of the doubt in a few close rounds.
However, the more substantive criticism here is of Kenny Bayless, who unfortunately marred what was an important and entertaining fight. In both knockdowns, he provided Ramirez with a little too much time to recover, although Taylor should realistically consider his own culpability in the delays.
After a knockdown, the boxer who scored it is supposed to wait in a neutral corner until the referee waves them back in. In both knockdowns in the sixth and seventh rounds, Taylor clearly came out of the corner before he was instructed to, prompting Bayless to push him back and delaying the start of the action.
And of course, supporters of Jose Ramirez will point to the countless times that Bayless appeared to be caught in between the decision to break the fighters from a clinch, or letting them work on the inside. The seventh-round knockdown occured after the referee had slapped both boxers on the arm, then stepped away with his hands up.
Ramirez relaxed, and got cracked with a legal uppercut from the clinch. While many people were upset by Bayless’ indecision and his tendency to slap at the boxers’ arms rather than pulling them apart, this is actually not that unusual in terms of a referee’s tactics to prevent holding.
While it seems to have fallen largely by the wayside in the past decade, referees frequently used to slap at the offending arm of a boxer holding onto their opponent. Often times it was preceded by the instruction to “work your way out,” and if the verbal instruction failed, the referee would slap the arm doing the holding as an instruction to let go. If a fighter would continue to hold on, the referee would then physically separate them.
From my perspective, this is what Kenny Bayless was attempting to do. The issue was the lack of consistency, and being caught in-between decisions. This made his job progressively harder, and was confusing for both of the fighters.