The problem with judging

By Tom Donelson, BASN boxing writer
Updated: June 18, 2012

Arbitrators of shame

Arbitrators of shame

IOWA CITY, IOWA (BASN)—This is not an article to defend what was the indefensible, namely the outcome of the Bradley-Pacquiao. This article is designed to view how a judge sees a fight and how occasional bad decision can occur. The three judges are located at three different locations around the boxing ring, allowing three different perspectives from three different angles. With judges viewing the fight from different angles, the goal is to have different eyes looking at the fight to ensure that all angles are covered.

The problem is that judges are looking up and at times, they are at disadvantages with certain angles. Let say if a judge sees across the ring and looks at Bradley back while throwing punches at Pacquiao on the rope. The judge will see Bradley throwing punches but he may not be able see whether Pacquiao is countering or blocking punches. What if the other judge is sitting behind Pacquiao back and again, the judge may not be able to see all of the punches throwing or connecting. It is totally possibly that two judges could miss significant action; leaving only the third judge seeing the action while the two other judges misses key punches.

The other aspect is that judges are looking up and this, too, puts the judges at a disadvantage. HBO Harold Lederman views the fight through the monitor or I would suspect that he does. HBO camera can view the fight from above and different angles which allows Lederman and the television audience a better view to see the fight. If the judges may miss some of the action, then those of us at home don’t.

The first solution is to change the angle from which the judges view the fight. One solution is to have the judges view the fight from a higher seat to allow them better angles to view the fight. The second option is to put the judges in a sound proof cabinet with a monitor and no sound; thus giving them the same angle that most announcers have. These reforms are to put the judges in a better position to view the fight and increasing their ability to judge the fight.

Another reform is to start suspending judges who make obviously bad decision. After the Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara fight, the New Jersey commission suspended the judges involved in the decision after another very bad decision. This is an option that needs to be considered.

Showtime Al Bernstein once suggested to me that a judge may want to count the number of punches that both fighters connect on. While not all punches are equal, compubox numbers are accurate barometer of how a fight is going most of the time.

(Not all the time but in most incidence it does tell the story of the fight.) Bernstein theory is that this would force the judge to put a more objective standard in their judging.

Finally, too many judges view being the aggressor as the dominating factor in the fight as oppose to looking at whether the aggressive fighter is being effective. Bradley threw more punches but he only connected on 19% of his punches while Pacquiao connected on 34%. Not only did Pacquiao connect on more punches but his punches had more pop as he stunned Bradley numerous time. Bradley aggressive strategy left him open to Pacquiao’s counters. Bradley fought his fight and probably proved to be the toughest opponent that Pacquiao had other than Marquez over the past seven years but he did not win the fight.

It is not easy to be judge in boxing since the judge does not have the best seat in the house and decision must be made instantly. Concentration and be able to block out the crowd noise are a necessity to being a good judge and judges do make mistakes. Call it human imperfection and my reforms will not end bad decision but it will make it less likely to happen.