WHAT A SHAME

Con­tro­ver­sial score­cards steal Josh Tay­lor’s thun­der

Boxing News - - Editor’s Letter - Edi­tor Matt Christie @Mattcbox­ingnews @Box­ingnewsed Box­ingnew­son­line

IT’S a shame that three of­fi­cials, by sit­ting at ring­side and scor­ing each round, have the power to ruin a fight. Not ruin the skills on dis­play, but cer­tainly the mood, the mem­o­ries and, in the worst cases, the re­sult.

The two box­ers can only do so much to en­sure their ef­forts grab the head­lines be­cause, once the fi­nal bell goes, what­ever came be­fore is at the mercy of three opin­ions. Be­cause this is box­ing and this is sport. De­ci­sions have to be made. Fur­ther­more, the de­ci­sions that de­cide the mar­gins and meth­ods of vic­tory will al­ways be sus­cep­ti­ble to controversy ca­pa­ble of tran­scend­ing the ac­tion in­side the ring.

If the judges get it about right, and let’s not for­get that more of­ten than not they do, they be­come anony­mous by­standers, for­got­ten as soon as the right fighter is hoisted into the air in cel­e­bra­tion. But if the scores are wrong, the scores which are per­ceived to be wrong, those scores be­come even more mem­o­rable than the ef­forts of the fighters.

What do you re­mem­ber most about one of the great­est per­for­mances of Floyd May­weather’s ca­reer when he out­classed Canelo Al­varez in 2013? I doubt it’s the way he ex­pertly be­fud­dled his ri­val, it will be the way CJ Ross’ 114-114 score­line be­fud­dled you. Three years later, Al­varez was gifted a 118-110 by Adalaide Byrd, who thought he’d won 10 of 12 rounds against Gen­nady Golovkin and tabled 118-110 in the Mex­i­can’s favour. After that draw, a re­sult that most ob­servers dis­agreed with, Golden Boy’s Eric Gomez im­plored the me­dia to not fo­cus on the dodgy de­ci­sion and in­stead re­port on what had in­deed been an ex­cel­lent fight. But how can you not fo­cus on in­jus­tice? Al­most a year later, mem­o­ries of what went on in the ring are fad­ing but how I felt when I heard it was a draw re­mains crys­tal clear.

All of the above is, of course, deeply un­fair on the box­ers. The box­ers who not only give their all in­side the ropes but lock them­selves away in a train­ing camp for months be­fore­hand. Like Josh Tay­lor and Vik­tor Pos­tol, two elite su­perlightweights who pre­pared dili­gently for last week­end’s clash and turned in a con­test ooz­ing with qual­ity. It looked like an ex­cep­tion­ally tight en­counter but in the record books it will al­ways be a lop­sided vic­tory for Tay­lor. Some may ar­gue that the right man won and they’d be right; Tay­lor boxed mag­nif­i­cently in the face of se­ri­ous ad­ver­sity and class. The way he got to grips with Pos­tol was awe-in­spir­ing, his fu­ture looks very bright.

But what of Pos­tol? Does he de­serve to be ruled such a wide loser? And will those scores per­suade any elite in­ter­na­tional fighter to visit the UK in fu­ture? Ul­ti­mately, we should be talk­ing about the ef­forts of both fighters rather than this. But if we keep ig­nor­ing cards that don’t ap­pear to re­flect the ac­tion, the prob­lem – an ageold one, ad­mit­tedly – will not just go away.

Short term, it’s cer­tainly time for some dam­age lim­i­ta­tion. Per­haps the com­mis­sions should tell us why Ghana­ian Ed­die Pap­poe (who scored 119-108 in Tay­lor’s favour) was se­lected when he’s notched home­town fighters wide win­ners in close fights be­fore. But most of all, let Pap­poe and the other judges stand up for them­selves and jus­tify their scores.

And maybe then we might learn some­thing too. It’s easy for us fly off the han­dle, par­tic­u­larly in this day and age when a few retweets can make us feel like our opin­ion is the only one that mat­ters, but we should also re­mem­ber that the judges have opin­ions too.

And after each round they hand in that opin­ion on a piece of card. They do not keep a run­ning to­tal. Each three-minute round is judged on its own mer­its. They do not see any re­plays that prove the punches thrown ac­tu­ally con­nected. They will not hear the commentary nor check their so­cial me­dia feeds. In­stead they will sit in one po­si­tion and only hear the re­ac­tions of the crowd.

Their job is not an easy one. But that doesn’t mean it should just be ac­cepted when they don’t get it right.

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Photo: AC­TION IM­AGES/JOHN CLIFTON

HARD FOUGHT: Pos­tol tests Josh Tay­lor to his lim­its in Scot­land

AC­TION IM­AGES/LEE SMITH & STACEY VER­BEEK

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