SHOULD NO DRAWS BE PART OF THE LAW?

BY Charles Jay ON June 23, 2002
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I don't know if I mentioned that somewhere along the way in this report, there were going to be some pretty radical ideas.

Now might be such a time.

I conducted a somewhat-less-than-scientific survey today. Using the last edition of the

Ring Record Book

, I discovered that from 1900-1986, there were, by my count, 69 draws in championship fights. That's not really an excessive number, but it occurred to me - I'd be willing to bet that in all of them, there were a fair number of fans who left the arena only half satisfied, if satisfied at all.

Can any sports fan feel a sense of complete fulfillment with a draw?

I've always thought one of the problems with the NHL, which has prevented it from gaining more of a widespread audience, particularly on TV, as opposed to the other major team sports, was that there are so many ties, even with the establishment not too long ago of the overtime period.

As for soccer - well, I don't see any explanation for tie games, especially in World Cup matches (I guess I just don't understand). The bottom line is - and Americans may be somewhat unique here - we want to see a winner and a loser if at all possible.

Draws can be particularly annoying in championship boxing; often they produce rematches of fights that were not all that appealing in the first place. And more often than not, in this day and age, they also add the kind of controversy the sport doesn't really need, begging questions about whether results were contrived to produce another "money-maker".

Personally, I don't want to see draws in championship fights. And since we can probably argue that times, and American sports fans' tastes, have changed, maybe we can institute some experiments that can rectify things, at least for those title fights that take place on American soil, just to see how it works.

I want to make it clear from the outset - I DO NOT want to suggest that fighters engage in a 13th round. I'm told by many trainers that it is potentially dangerous for a fighter to "cool down" while scores are being tabulated, then jump back into an extra, and very intense, three minutes of action. And besides, fighters sign contracts for 12 rounds - not 13, 14, 15, or whatever would be required to break a tie. That's what they prepare for, that's what they train for, that's what they get paid for.

Now, I grant that the odds are against any given fight being declared a draw, but it's obviously very possible, since it would take one judge to score it even, with the other two splitting, or two to call it even.

But how possible would it be for TWO sets of judges to do that?

My own suggestion is for the employment of a SUPPLEMENTAL judging panel - something which is not only completely separate from the three judges that are in place for a title fight, but also APPOINTED by the local jurisdiction, rather than the sanctioning body.

Obviously, manpower problems would preclude this system from being in place for all fights, but for championship fights, it shouldn't be a problem, since extra judges are being imported from other areas in most cases anyway.

These supplemental judges can do their job from similar vantage points as their "primary" counterparts, or look at the fight on television - I don't really care how a commission decides to set it up.

They would score the fight just as they always would, using the same basic guidelines as the other judges, with one exception - they wouldn't be allowed to score any rounds even.

In the event a fight is scored a draw by the three primary judges, the verdict of the supplemental judging panel then comes into effect. At this point, the decision is to be determined by the scoring of these judges.

In all likelihood, a winner is going to come out of this system. And you may find out it will serve some residual purposes as well -

While I don't necessarily think it would be a good idea that the scores of the supplemental panel become public if they are not needed (who needs even MORE controversy?), I would think they could be used by commissions to compare performance of judges appointed by sanctioning bodies with those of their own personnel, thus producing a "check and balance" of a sort. This way, should we have a mechanism in place in which the judges are evaluated from time to time by a national panel, as has been proposed, more perspective can be established.

And those scores might also be used as evidence in the event of a grievance filed by a fighter who feels he's been victimized by an egregious decision.

So now you ask, what happens if the second panel also scores the fight even? Well, in that case, maybe you can do one of a few different things:

1) Take an overall composite of the six judges - i.e., if the first three judges had Fighter A winning on one card, with the other two even, while the second group had Fighters A&B both winning a card, and the other had it even, the composite would show that Fighter A was declared the winner by two judges, while Fighter B won with only one judge, thereby making Fighter A the winner (yes, that's radical).

2) Do a review of the original three judges cards, counting up the rounds each fighter won on ALL three cards - who had the most? If there is still no winner, move on to the second set of judges with the same procedure.

3) If all that doesn't work, take a deep breath, and just declare the fight a draw.

It might be worth trying.

The debate is open. I'd be happy to read any suggestions.

fightpage@totalaction.com

Copyright 2002 Total Action Inc.

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