Hip Hip Hooray, For Replay

BY Ron Borges ON August 19, 2009
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Instant replay has long been a staple of the NFL. Now it is finally taking root in the biggest state in boxing.

Wednesday the wise men of the Nevada State Athletic Commission voted to adopt a limited form of instant replay, which is really the only kind that can work in boxing. It was as wise a decision as any commission has made since the California State Athletic Commission suspended Antonio Margarito for at least a year for sporting illegal handwraps.

Nevada now joins New Jersey as the only states that have decided removing the human element might be a wise idea if said element gets something obviously wrong, as can and too often does happen in boxing.

Under the new rule, the referee may (emphasis on the word “may’’) choose to review videotape after a fight has ended to see if a finishing blow was legal or illegal. The commission wisely decided it could not be used during a fight because it would adversely effect the three minute round and one minute break in between, thereby changing the very nature of the sport.

Hopefully however, over time, this will be expanded and one way to do it would be to establish a replay official at ringside with access to all the same instant replays the cable networks have. That person would then be free to examine a controversial call (say a knockdown that clearly wasn’t, a glove touching the canvas that the referee misses, a head butt, or a clear foul on the break or after the bell).

His findings could then be relayed to the referee and judges and be correctly reflected on their scorecards. Any such ruling would have to be kept on a tight clock however, perhaps the same one-minute interval the fighters have between rounds.

Any such changes would and should have to be done gradually, as Nevada is opting to do. But if a workable procedure could be created, it would take some of the more controversial situations of the past out of the sport and anything that could do that without interrupting the flow of a fight should be welcomed by all sides of boxing, not just the officials.

The difficult part is that it could not be uniformly put into use. The largest promotions, the ones televised on HBO and SHOWTIME, would have the most cameras and the best access to instant replay. Obviously non-televised shows would not have it at all even though those fights could be just as adversely affected by a bad call or an unseen foul as a major match.

And shows televised independently or by smaller entities like ESPN2 or Versus would have more limited replay possibilities. Regardless, the good news is that in boxing’s largest state, Nevada, the sport has finally come into the 21st Century, at least as it relates to a blow or blows that end a fight.

That’s a start and boxing, in many ways, certainly could use a fresh one.

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