Bad Judging: A Case Study

Vazquez media day 120201 004aRuben Garcia should be the president of the Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. fanclub. (Chris Farina).

I don’t know Ruben Garcia. He might be a very nice man. I do know that Garcia was in the wrong place at the wrong time on Saturday night. More specifically, Garcia was sitting in a judge’s chair scoring the fight between Nonito Donaire and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.

It wasn’t a hard fight to score. Donaire outlanded Vazquez in eleven of twelve rounds en route to a 231 to 163 show of superiority. Donaire also landed more power punches in every single round for a 147 to 56 advantage.

Judges Levi Martinez and Don Trella scored the fight 117-110 for Donaire. Every ringside report of the fight that I’ve read had Donaire winning by a comfortable margin. For the record, watching at home, I scored the fight 117-110 for Donaire.

Garcia scored the fight 115-112 for Vazquez.

In other words; the consensus among knowledgeable observers was that Donaire won nine of twelve rounds. Garcia gave eight rounds to Vazquez.

“Gave” is the proper word for most of those rounds. Vazquez didn’t earn them.

What was Garcia watching? It was almost as though fans could have checked out “early results from San Antonio” on a boxing website before the bout and read that Garcia had Vazquez ahead by four points at the opening bell.

No doubt, some people are saying today, “What’s the big deal?  It doesn’t matter. The other two judges got it right.”

Trust me. It’s a big deal.

Suppose Donaire-Vazquez had been close, with Levi Martinez scoring the bout for Donaire and Don Trella scoring the fight for Vazquez (or vice versa). Garcia would have cast the deciding ballot.

Also; think of all the fights out of the spotlight that Garcia has scored over the years. How many fighters have been deprived of a victory that might have made a difference in their lives because of his scoring?

I’m not familiar with the body of Ruben Garcia’s work.  It might be that he’s a capable unbiased judge who simply had a (very) bad night.

That said, Texas is a state that takes pride in its sports heritage. I doubt that it wants to become known as “The Bad Officiating Capitol of America.”

Al Bernstein once wrote, “Justice is not always served in boxing. Months of work and sweat and blood can be trivialized and wasted by incompetent or biased judges.”

People in boxing would do well to remember Ruben Garcia’s scorecard in Donaire-Vazquez.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book (Winks and Daggers: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing) was published by the University of Arkansas Press.

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