Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Poor judging mars entertaining Tim Bradley-Diego Chaves card

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

On a night that featured not one, but two controversial decisions, boxing once again finds itself mired in a fog of doubt. Both the Tim Bradley vs. Diego Chaves and Mauricio Herrera vs. Jose Benavidez fights – which were each entertaining in their own right – ended with scorecards of the dubious variety.

Herrera, who can’t seem to catch a break, found himself on the wrong side of unbelievably wide scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112 in a fight he appeared to have easily won to everyone inside of The Chelsea except the judges. When the scores were read it seemed evident that they would favor Herrera, and that he would spoil Benavidez’s arrival as a formidable player in the 140-pound scene. After all, Herrera was the obvious aggressor and out-landed Benavidez 285 to 250. Sure, when Benavidez opened up he landed some very clean shots. But the spurts he fought in were far and few in between.

In the case of Tim Bradley, maybe this was the boxing gods trying to exact their revenge on Bradley’s contentious split-decision victory over Manny Pacquiao back in 2012. Mystical pugilism revenge aside, Bradley appeared to do more than enough to earn a decision but ended up with a bizarre split draw. Judge Burt Clements saw the fight 115-113 in favor of Bradley. That seemed fair. However, Julie Lederman’s egregious 116-112 card for Chaves, coupled with Craig Metcalfe’s 114-114 score, only proved that the dark fog of controversy that clouded the Herrera-Benavidez fight had drifted over to rain on Bradley’s parade as well.

Compubox had Bradley landing 73 punches more than Chaves (225-152) and it appeared that Bradley was the sharper and more concise of the two. He landed thudding body shots, utilized an effective jab, dictated the pace and boxed effectively when need be. Trying to decipher how Lederman saw Bradley only winning the second, third, fifth and eighth rounds is more difficult than breaking down the Pythagorean theorem to a 6-year-old.

An incensed Bob Arum spoke to a small group of reporters afterward to voice his displeasure with the judges.

“[The Nevada State Athletic Commission] let these f___king Showtime guys put on a show the same time we did,” Arum barked. “They don’t have enough judges or referees but they do anything the f___king MGM asks them to.”

Arum, of course, is referring to the card at the MGM Grand that was headlined by Amir Khan’s virtuoso performance against Devon Alexander. The Top Rank CEO believes that resources were spread too thin and resulted in the best judges and referees being unavailable.

“They have barely enough judges in Nevada to go around if there is one card,” Arum continued. “The argument from them was that these were not big cards. But that isn’t the problem. The problem is that we had three title fights, they had five big fights over there and there is not enough judges or referees to go around.”

For the record, Arum believed Bradley defeated Chaves handily but would admit bias in the Benavidez decision considering that Benavidez is a Top Rank fighter while Herrera is with Golden Boy.

“The real problem is the disparity in the scoring,” Arum continued. “It makes every one of us look insane.”

You can blame it on the fact that there were two major cards going on at the same time, but this isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that the sport is given a black eye due to controversial judging. What will resolve this ongoing issue is yet to be seen. But until then, we’ve just had to deal with yet another great night of boxing that ends in suspicious scoring.

And that’s never good for the sport.