Thursday, June 01, 2023  |



Commentary: Fix the broken system of judging

Photo by Esther Lin/ Showtime
Fighters Network


Five days after the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury event and too many of us are still fixated not on the wondrous elements on display, such as Fury’s Jesus moment and his marvelous sportsmanship afterward, but on that 115-111 card for Wilder turned in by official ringside judge Alejandro Rochin.

So, so sad to say but that card has skunk-sprayed the scrap and left a taint on the tussle.

You can lobby against that stance and tell people to get over it but those same people have been re-watching the fight, looking for rounds to give Wilder…and I’m not really hearing from any of whom are seeing the contest in a way that helps them wrap their brains around the Rochin card.

You know that Wilder snagged two extra points for the two knockdowns…and that means if he won five total rounds, you’d be seeing a draw (and one of the judges, Phil Edwards, turned in that score). And one saw Fury winning…and then there was Rochin, who, so far, hasn’t accepted my offer to be friends on Facebook.

WBC boss Mauricio Sulaiman took to Twitter to defend the guy after I wrote that he lost the weekend, with his outing at Staples Center on Saturday. Light props to “Moro” for loyalty but I think we have hopefully reached a new low and maybe a turning point.

If another year passes and no sanctioning body or top-tier commission comes out with an initiative that boldly speaks to the regular skunking of high-profile bouts, courtesy of bizarro scorecards, then I will have to conclude that maybe people don’t want to fix the issue.

Seriously we all hear the wailing and gnashing…but not from every corner. The fans bemoan; media rails…but so many of the people who actually hold power in the game justify the loony scorecards…and tell us to concentrate on positives…or tell people that their eyes are of the lying variety. You all know who you are; there are a whole lot of you.

One person who has been consistent in his call to remedy this ill is Teddy Atlas. The trainer/analyst – and now 2019 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee – fresh off a stellar win cornering newly-crowned WBC light heavyweight titlist Oleksandr Gvozdyk past Adonis Stevenson on Saturday, spoke on Sirius/XM on Wednesday about our sport’s lingering cancer, the abominable and unfathomable decisions rendered by judges rendered inept by intent or baseline incompetence.

“It depends on what the controversy is,” said Atlas on “MMA Tonight” with host RJ Clifford. “If it continues to be about either incompetent or corrupt judging, ’cause it can only be one or the other, as long as it’s that, it’s kind of like asking people to go to the movie theater when they know the end of the movie. They’re not gonna go. If they really feel they know the end of the movie, that it’s going to be a corrupt or incompetent/improper decision, they’re going to stop going. That’s not healthy. There’s been many fans that have been driven away from the sport because of that.”

Teddy Atlas. Photo credit-John Locher/Associated Press

Teddy Atlas. Photo credit-John Locher/Associated Press

Indeed. It’s impossible to know how many folks have seen the CJ Rosses and Rochins do their thing and decided not to invest their time and energy into a flawed construct…but being that our eyeballs pool hasn’t been growing in the last five years, it is in our best interest to get to fixing.

Or is it?

Is it actually in the best interest of all the powers that be to fix the problem? Because maybe it isn’t a problem; maybe it’s feature, an institutionalized method to get over. Maybe the persistent “bad” decisions are actually power levers, ways to influence fate and push events in the direction that more richly benefits the ones with the out-sized power and ability to monetize that power. Because we have no central body that would be responsible for investigating instances of gross negligence and ineptitude, to see if something odious is afoot, apart from buffoonery, we simply don’t know.

I finish this piece on a hopefully more upbeat, forward looking note. I reached out to Sulaiman and asked him what he’s done and is doing to work toward bettering the judging system. The WBC chief responded:

“Officiating will always be subject to be controversial in boxing, simply because it is subjective scoring, not objective. In boxing you don’t have goals, runs, baskets or whatever else to register as the score, you have judges determining round after round a winner of each individual period of three minutes of action. Very few sports are subjective; diving, gymnastics, skating, mostly are amateur sports. Boxing scoring systems evolved throughout the years. There’s been a variety of systems in place…

“- Referee the sole judge who determined on his own opinion who had won the fight
– Two judges and a scoring referee
– Today’s three scoring judges

“Scoring systems

– 20 point system
– 5 point system
– round by round 1 point system
– Today’s 10 point must system

Problems with 10 point must system – today –

“- Local jurisdictions process for selection of officials
– Local jurisdictions not allowing 4 neutral officials of nationality
– 10-10 rounds are very unusual for judges to award and this is a major topic
– 10-8 rounds without a knockdown are also rarely awarded
– Noise reduction headphones are a sensational tool which enhances concentration and eliminates subconscious influence on the judge from noise
– Open scoring to all or at least to the corners after the 4th and 8th round. This allows corners to adjust strategy during the fight as they know what the judges are scoring
– 4 or 5 judges to score the bout makes a greater panel to minimize the possibility of controversy
– Mandatory training – We are introducing in 2019 the WBC online university with certification for judges, referees, supervisors, inspectors, trainers and nutritionists
– Public rating of officials
– Mandatory grading of performance of each official activity”

So offer us your thoughts, readers. Suggest ideas on how we can make the system better because, right now, it sucks. Not every time out but often enough to be able to say it sucks. Let’s not be in this same place next year, come holiday time. What say we gift ourselves a concentrated effort to make the sport better, by working to get better judging of prize fights.

The fans and athletes deserve better. They deserve competence and freedom from corruption and/or ineptitude. And if that means we install Teddy Atlas as Boxing Czar by the end of 2019, if we don’t fix this problem, then who of you are with me?

Let’s fix this shit. Let’s stop talking about it and let us get to action: Enough is enough.



You can follow Michael Woods on Twitter @Woodsy1069.




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