Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Boxing’s Black Eye: Judging the Judges

Fighters are our modern-day gladiators.  One by one they walk out to the roar of the crowd and step into ring— all-too willing to put their lives on the line — to test their skill, will and determination.  On many nights, the two combatants go at it until the final bell— leaving the fate of the bout in the hands of the judges.  The anticipation follows.  At times, the electricity is so thick you can cut it with a knife— it’s what makes boxing so special. Then finally: The decision, and all-too often, the letdown— call it the “Battle After the Bell.”

“Bad decisions” have almost become synonymous with boxing. Some of the more egregious decisions have even evoked cries of “a fix.”  Far too often the judges’ scorecards have left fans scratching their heads asking, “what were they watching?” 

Pat Lamparelli is a former amateur and professional judge in Nevada, who got his start in the 1980’s.  He dismissed any conspiracy theory talk but isn’t shy about pointing the blame, “A lot of the people that are judges right now, should not be judges— they are ruining the sport of boxing and that’s because they’re not educated on what to see and what to judge.”

No doubt, you could hear those familiar cries of frustration last weekend. Former Featherweight World Champion Nicholas Walters took on Jason Sosa in Verona, New York.  It was a tough and entertaining fight— with both guys landing some good shots— but in the end there seemed to be no doubt Walters won most, if not all, of the rounds.  Lets just say there appeared to be little to no anticipation to the final outcome.  Then came “The Official Decision.”  The judges scored it a majority draw. In fact, two of them had it a draw and the third had Sosa winning 96-94.  This reporter scored it 99-91 in favor of Walters.  The CompuBox numbers showed Walters landed more than 110 more punches and landed at more than double the percentage rate.

Another case of bad judging came on a much bigger stage: The Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight in Las Vegas in June of 2012.  Nearly everyone, including pugilistic pundits, fair-weather boxing fans and everyone in between, had it an easy victory for the Filipino star.  But Bradley was awarded the majority decision.  Two of the judges had Bradley winning 115-113, the other had it 115-113 for Pacquiao. The nearly universal outcry over the scorecards was deafening afterwards— in fact you still hear the cries of “robbery” more than three years later.

So why do we see this kind of robbery over and over again?  Is it incompetence by the judges?  A lack of training for the judges?  Corruption tied to the “powers that be” in the sport of boxing? Or, maybe, it just boils down to the fact that scoring is subjective— a case of the old adage: “eye of the beholder.” 

Lamparelli says in his day prospective amateur judges were given written tests and they practiced scoring fights alongside the official judges of fights.  If trainees showed consistent competence in scoring then they would get referred to judge a fight.  The testing never focused on the four criteria for scoring a boxing match, “They should have had classes to judge.”  As for the pros, Pat says, “The Nevada Boxing Commission picks a number of judges for a fight— the promoters and the camps for the fighters can contest any of the names thrown into the pool.“  From there the three judges are picked.

Former WBC Featherweight Champion, Kevin Kelley, currently moonlights as a color commentator for HBO.  He has a different take about the onus of the blame behind controversial decisions. “I feel the difference in judging live events is the angles— where the judges are sitting.  They can miss some of the action depending on where they are sitting— that’s why I’m in favor of having monitors for the judges ringside.”

There’s another side to the controversy over scorecards in boxing.  Case in point: the Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez fight in Las Vegas in November.  Alvarez won a unanimous decision— the judges scored it— 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111.  The fight was compelling, competitive and entertaining but for most people it appeared to be a clear victory for the Mexican superstar.  Just minutes after the fight, some of the journalists in the media room at the Mandalay Bay seemed perplexed.  Several of them had it much closer — some had it a draw or, at best, a razor-thin decision for Canelo.  

All this begs the question—do people know the four criteria for judging a boxing match?  Boxing analyst James “Smitty” Smith has asked this very question for decades, “There is a lack of understanding of the criteria for scoring a fight— most people I ask can’t name them.”  As for the judges, “Most just don’t have enough boxing experience and they aren’t held accountable for poor scoring after the fight.”

So lets break it down.  The four criteria for judging are “clean punching”, “effective aggression”,  “ring generalship”  and “defense.”  “Clean” punches are punches that land on the face, side of the head, and the front and side of the torso.  “Effective Aggression” is when a boxer consistently and successfully moves forward in a controlled manner.  “Ring Generalship” refers to the fighter who controls the pace and style of the bout.  Boxers also receive credit for “Defense” when they skillfully incorporate defensive maneuvers.

Amateur and professional trainer Steve Rowlands thinks a lot of things come into play when it comes to controversial decisions, “Watching fights live and watching them on TV are different— the commentary of the announcers can influence how people score.  It can also depend on what style a judge likes— some can prefer fighters who are more aggressive while others can like a different style.”  Rowlands added another wrinkle to the story, “You can rig a fight without actually get paid-off.”  He claims it is not coincidence that some fighters have consistently been awarded close decisions, “I noticed the same American judges and referees were being asked to work fights years ago— especially in Europe—  and lets just say they know where their bread is buttered.”

Think about it— fans watch football, baseball and hockey, and at any time they know the “official” score.  It’s right there on the scoreboard.  Not so in boxing. It is a sport where the fan doesn’t know the score until the end— whether by knockout or decision.  Here’s some food for thought: some people might argue that the time waiting for the judges’ decision—and whether they, the fan, feels the decision is “just”— is all part of the drama and lure of boxing.   

“The sweet science” could very well be the most subjective of all the major sports and that’s not going to change.  Fans and judges often see what they see— whether watching live or on a TV in the comfort of their home.  What can be changed is “proper training”— educating the viewer on what to look for and what not to look for when it comes to properly scoring a fight.  Smitty says, “It’s one thing to know the four criteria and it’s another to know what it means and how to apply it.”  Don’t we owe it to our gladiators for an equally courageous and just outcome!

Boxing Fight Night Correspondent
Kevin Kayhart




The end of 2015 is nigh and what a wonderfully successful year, if we crunch the numbers, as we remember and savor unforgettable fights, several of which were a dream come true!.
We also applaud, recognize and salute great champions who keep making history in their respective divisions, with bravery, ballistics and brilliance.
The World Boxing Council is thrilled for the stellar achievements this year, and also for those who've worked very hard for our sport.
It was marvelous year, inspiring us to try even harder to do yet better in 2016.
The WBC in numbers:
WBC Title Bouts: 46
By country: United States 23, Japan 5, Mexico 5,Thailand 4, Canada 4, Russia 2, England 1, Monaco 1 and Venezuela 1.
By Cities: Las Vegas 8, Los Angeles 5, England 3 Brooklyn 2, Mazatlan 2, Miyagi 2, Moscow 2, New York 2, Quebec 2, Tokyo 2, Caracas 1, Carson 1, Chicago 1, Chonburi 1, El Paso 1, Greenwich 1, Guamuchil 1, Metepec 1, Mexico City 1, Montecarlo 1, Montreal 1, Nakhon Ratchasima 1, Nakhon Sawan 1 and Osaka 1.
By Division:, Heavyweight 4, cruiserweight 2, light heavyweight 4, super middleweight 2, middleweight 5, welterweight 2, super lightweight 3, lightweight 3, super featherweight 2, featherweight 2, super bantamweight 2, bantamweight 2, super flyweight 4, flyweight 2, light flyweight 3, minimum weight 4 .
Undefeated champions:
Deontay Wilder (US) 35-0-0, 34 KOs Heavyweight
Gennady Golovkin (Kazakhstan) 34-0-0, 31 Ko's Middleweight
Viktor Postol (Ukraine) 28-0-0, 12 KO's Super lightweight
Francisco Vargas (Mexico) 23-0-1, 17 KOs Super featherweight
Shinsuke Yamanaka (Japan) 24-0-2, 17 KOs Bantamweight
Carlos Cuadras (Mexico) 34-0-1, 26 Ko's Super flyweight
Roman Gonzalez (Nicaragua) 44-0-0, 38 KOs Flyweight
Wanheng Menayothin (Thailand) 40-0-0, 15 Ko's Minimum weight

Champions by country: Mexico 4, United States 2, Japan 2, Canada 1, Thailand 1, Venezuela 1, Ukraine 1, Russia 1, Nicaragua 1, Kazakhstan 1, Gambia / Switzerland 1.
WBC titles by promoter:Golden Boy Promotions 6, K2 Promotions 5, Dibella Entertainment 5, Teiken Promotions 5, Promociones Del Pueblo 5, Don King Productions 4, Mayweather Promotions 3, Groupe Yvon Michel 3, Diamond Boxing Promotion 3, World of Boxing 2, Tgb Promotions 2, Main Events 2, Cotto Promotions 1, Warriors Boxing 1, Matchroom Sports 1, Jupiter Fight Boxing 1, Boxing Promotion 1,Nakornluong 1,Top Rank 1 and Roc Nation 1.
Silver 22, Female 24, International 52, Youth 22, Americas Continental 15, Latino 63, USNBC 13, Baltic 8, EPBC 20, Francophone 8, Mediterranean 10.
Countries: 34

Tuesday, December 8, 2015



Viewers Can Watch The All-Brooklyn Showdown In Virtual Reality On Multiple Platforms
Photos: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME       
NEW YORK, NY – December 8, 2015 – For the first time ever, a boxing match has been released in its entirety in 360 degree immersive virtual reality, as SHOWTIME captured the shocking first round TKO from Saturday night’s main event between WBA Middleweight World Champion Daniel Jacobs’ and previously undefeated challenger Peter Quillin. The all-Brooklyn main event has been made available in 360 video from ring-side, giving fans an unprecedented boxing experience. The virtual reality video engrosses viewers in the matchup of the top middleweights, facing off in the prime of their career, where Brooklyn’s Jacobs (31-1, 28 KOs) won the “Battle For Brooklyn.” The 360 footage is viewable on the SHOWTIME Sports’ YouTube channel*, the SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page, on the Samsung Gear VR via the MILK VR app and Littlestar VR apps for Samsung Gear VR, iOS and Android.

The telecast is currently available On Demand, on SHOWTIME ANYTIME® and on the SHOWTIME streaming service. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING event happened live on SHOWTIME on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. One minute into the fight, Jacobs landed a straight right to Quillin’s temple and pounced with an onslaught of punches while his opponent was against the ropes. Quillin stumbled forward and referee Harvey Dock looked in Quillin’s eyes and halted the fight without the challenger ever touching the canvas. 
The executive producer of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING is David Dinkins Jr. with Bob Dunphy directing. Barclays Center's BROOKLYN BOXING™ programming platform is presented by AARP. For more information visit www.SHO.com/Sports, follow on Twitter @SHOSports, @DanielJacobsTKO, @KidChocolate, or become a fan on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SHOSports.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Quick Breakdown of Jacobs vs Quillin


This one is a tough call. Can make a case for both fighters to win thisWBA Middleweight Championship Fight. Both of these young men have great stories and are very good fighters, not great fighters but very good fighters, especially offensively. Where they both have issues is with their defense. Neither are wizards from a defensive standpoint which I think will make this a fan friendly fight with both fighters having firepower moments. 

At times, the Champion, Jacobs exhibits some very good boxing skills with game changing power that have produced the 27 KO's in his 30 wins, but I have seen him have lapses on the defensive side being stopped by Dmitry Pirog and even in his last fight going down in rd one from light punching Sergio Mora. 

Quillin at times looks very fast, athletic, and shows some skills, but then I never see it with consistency for an entire fight and I always feel he is vulnerable and he has some real issues displaying too much chin at times. I see both doing damage and receiving damage. I question both of their beards, and I happened to be ringside when Jacob's was stretched by Pirog, but that was 2010. 

The winner of this fight will be the fighter who mixes his offense with defense and has a game plan and sticks to it and if he needs adapt he will be able to implement a secondary plan without lacking defense. I'll go with the Champion Jacobs to keep his title with 12 rd decision.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015