On a spring evening in 1995 while assigned as Chief Inspector for the New York State Boxing Commission, fate intervened. There were the customary three judges assigned to work the show, and after observing that the office staff had failed to fill out the captions (boxers’ name, weight, trunk colors, etc.) on the scorecards, one official felt that it was beneath him to perform such a menial task. The judge walked out of the arena in a huff after stating his refusal to work the show.
“What now?” thought Commissioner Rose Trentman. “The show can’t proceed with only two judges.” In desperation the Commissioner came to me and asked if I felt capable of assuming the role. Having had an extensive amateur career (59 fights, 56 wins, with 2 losses and 1 NC) and over ten years experience as Chief Inspector for the NYSAC, I confidently stated “Why not!”
Together with Judges Steve Weisfeld and Bob Gilson, we proceeded to work the show without incident. Shortly after that fight card I applied and received my license as a New York State Boxing Judge. I continued in that capacity until June of 2000, when IBF President Hiawatha Knight appointed me to the position of Championship Chairman.
That appointment followed the indictment of former IBF founder Robert Lee Sr. and other Executive Officers of the International Boxing Federation for engaging in corrupt practices. In March of 2003 I was replaced - due to our opposing views on how the organization should function - by the newly elected IBF President.
Offers followed to join other sanctioning bodies. I declined their invitations and chose to return to being a judge.
Since my return I have had the opportunity to attend seminars conducted by the New York State Athletic Commission, International Professional Ring Officials (IPRO), which I now serve as its vice president, as well as The Mohegan Tribal Commission. These seminars are without a doubt the answer to achieving better decisions in boxing contests.
In addition to those organizations already mentioned, the major sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO) each conduct training seminars at their annual conventions. These seminars help their officials by employing uniform criteria in determining the scoring of a bout. Ongoing training must be encouraged by the regulators of the sport to minimize the number of controversial decisions that have occurred in the past.
If one were to review the scorecards of most major fights, it would appear that most were close decisions. In many instances that would be a fallacy. The scoring of a 10-9 round should be used to indicate a competitive three minutes with one boxer slightly superior in that round. While 10-9 scoring is the norm, the above comparison is more of a rarity. More likely than not a boxer clearly winning a round is awarded the 10-9 score when it should be scored 10-8
Many Officials are reluctant to edge away from the 10-9 for fear of being criticized. Some feel the losing boxer then must overcome the obstacle in the upcoming round(s). So be it! If a boxer scores a knockdown in addition to controlling the action throughout the round the proper score would be 10-7. Many Officials would go with the safety of 10-8 to avoid any criticism.
With the use of the Unified Rules, in championship bouts the 3-knockdown rule is waved. Should a fighter be down four times a correct score would be 10-5. How many would stand up and be counted by scoring it that way? Interesting question!
I have always believed that in scoring a bout you give both fighters what they have earned. Anything less is wrong. The idea of “what is the press going to think?” be damned. Very few of those individuals have ever spent time in the ring to begin with. Some of these self-anointed experts are the first to cast aspersions when a decision differs from their own. Who cares? I have always found it odd that many of the people who make their living reporting on boxing rarely have a good word to say about the sport.
Another point receiving media attention of late has been the “Even Round.” While I feel for the most part that scoring a round 10-10 should be the exception, I have at times employed the even round. More often than not, when we hear the hue and cry about a bad decision, one would be safe in assuming that the critics of the decision were, for the majority of the bout, talking to the guy/gal in the next seat, out for a smoke, or getting another beer. The person they are complaining about spent the entire three minutes of each round in total concentration on what was taking place within feet of their elevated seat on the ring apron.
To the critics I say: “Walk a mile in my moccasins before you try to judge me.”
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV