Judging the Judges

Fans of boxing erupted over the scorecards of two similar fights this past weekend: one in Temecula and another in Las Vegas.

Max DeLuca, perhaps the best judge of boxing in the world, participated in both controversial fights. In a bout between winner Oscar Escandon of Colombia and Canada’s Tyson Cave he favored the loser with his crazy unorthodox slapping style over the winner who landed solid blows.

In the fight that saw Jose Benavidez win by leaning on the ropes most of the fight, he favored that style over Mauricio Herrera, who pummeled the body most of the 12 rounds. Despite Herrera carrying the fight, he was penalized for attacking the body.

Does it make DeLuca a bad judge? Not at all. But it does bring to light that judges need to have a more uniform and consistent form of scoring a fight. They’re too often all over the place.

When Herrera’s work to the body was largely ignored it highlighted the fact that working off the ropes or lying on the ropes is not necessarily penalized. Throughout the fight Top Rank members and Benavidez’s own team were shouting for him to get off the ropes. Usually, this spells doom. But not in televised fights.

One matchmaker at the fight said he saw Herrera as the winner. It was almost unanimously agreed that the Riverside junior welterweight was the winner. Not on Saturday. Herrera was robbed for the second time in a year. Last March Danny Garcia was judged the winner though the world felt he lost. But sometimes the harder worker is rewarded with a decision.

Other questionable decisions

Who can forget Paul Williams versus Erislandy Lara?

Williams out-worked Lara, who did the same thing on the ropes and when the judgment was rendered, people screamed bloody murder. It was the reverse of Benavidez-Herrera.

On the flip side, you have a fight like Lara versus Saul “Canelo” Alvarez where the Cuban coasted around the ring flipping jabs occasionally. Alvarez fired the harder shots but rarely landed. He made the fight so the judges rewarded him the win.

In my opinion a marquee fight that millions are watching on television should reward the boxer that is providing action. Shoulder rolls and occasional counters that couldn’t break an egg should not be rewarded. But a boxer who continually punches without getting hurt should be rewarded. Last Saturday Herrera was not rewarded for his abundance of work.

Don’t bring up Compubox figures. They’re only on one side of the ring and can’t see the punches landed. They provide fans with some kind of reference but they are not the word of God.

Busier fighter

If a prizefighter has many more punches landed he should win the fight, clear and simple. Herrera did that. Benavidez did land an occasional long counter but the force of the punch was not set to stun. If it were, he would have marked up Herrera’s face. Usually Herrera leaves a fight with tremendous cuts, swelling and bruises. Not after the Benavidez fight.

Judges should really be certain that a guy lying on the ropes is not rewarded for lack of effort. Unless counters are very telling blows that stun, wobble or knock down the other fighter. This simple rule was not followed. Simple touch counters that lacked force but were clearly seen were given too much credit.

“My plan all along was to work the body,” Herrera said after the fight. “I guess they don’t count body shots.”

Another mistake was giving Benavidez too much credit for stealing rounds in the last 30 seconds. Yes, he did score some blows late in the rounds, but he absorbed two dozen punches or more during the entire round. And he wasn’t blocking the body shots.

If Benavidez does that against a heavy puncher like Lucas Matthysse or Danny Garcia, it will be lights out. The Arizona youngster has abundance of talent. What he learned last weekend may come back to bite him.

—- Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank

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COMMENTS

-riverside :

The Garcia fight theory of the judges was My boy didn't do enough to beat the champion? the closer scoring rounds went to the champion according to the judges in March, using the ideolgy, why was it not implemented during the benavidez fight. Benavidez was on the ropes the majority of the time, Ben claims he wanted to be there, Bull crap. His @ss was pinned down agains the ropes by a pillow fisted fighter. alot of those shot where landing on the side and trough the guard when pinned against the ropes. my boy was pushing the action and being the most aggresive during most of the fight, for exception of 4 and 5 round. i think we landed more body shots than any other hbo fight, according to punch stat. I wanna give prop to Benavidez Senior, he has stepped up like a real Man and acknowledge the cold facts and reality of the boxing buisness.


-oubobcat :

Look, this needs to get fixed once and for all. The judging last weekend was hideous in some cases to say the least. I would really like to hear some explanations from these judges as to how they came to their scores in some of these fights. Did anyone watch the Tyson Cave-Oscar Excandon fight? That was by far the worst scores of the three controversial fights from last weekend. Cave dominated the fight. Escandon was off balance and unable to get punches off all night. When he did throw, he missed often. Cave boxed circles around him. It was an easy fight to score. If you were generous, and I mean generous, Escandon won three rounds. I had it 118-110 for Cave. But Raul Caiz scored it 117-111 for Escandon. That is a preposterous card to say the least. And Tony Crebs was not much better at 115-113 for Escandon. There is no possible way that Cave could have only won three and five rounds respectively in that fight. No way...I'd really like to hear the round by round explanation from those judges. Of course, that wasn't the only fight from this weekend. Julie Lederman turned in a horrible card in the Bradley-Chaves fight scoring it for Chaves by a wide margin. That fight turned into a ridiculous draw in a fight that there is no doubt that Bradley easily won. And Mauricio Herrera should have got the nod against Benavidez. At the very least, the margins of those cards were inexplicably wide in the favor of Benavidez. So how do we fix this. Well, my first suggestion probably won't get much steam but I'll suggest it anyway. Its simple, just take five fifth graders, sit them ringside for a fight and ask them at the end who won. I bet they get it right more often than not and would have had the correct result in the three controversial fights from the weekend. Okay that realistically won't fly with commissions. So here is what we do. Its time to grade the judges. Its simple, really. When I was a senior in high school, we had the option of taking one class pass/fail. The grade you received was not "A, B, C, D or F" it was pass or fail. So if you received a "D", on your transcripts all that was shown was "pass." Grading the judges should be just like that system. Scoring a fight is subjective and we are not always going to agree. And sometimes maybe a card looks bad but is not screaming out loud bad. It won't fail and still passes though we may not completely agree with the scoring. However Julie Lederman's and Raul Caiz's cards fail. It does not take a panel of experts to see that. Those scores stand out and they need to held accountable for such bad scores. I am not trying to pick on these judges and they weren't the only ones from this weekend that failed. But they were the worst, no doubt. Basically, a judge's card either passes or fails. We want judges in this sport that receive passing grades consistently. Its not that hard to receive such grades either as again we are failing cards that scream out loud bad. I understand not everyone is perfect and fails will happen. We all have bad days. But it should be few and far between. Okay, really few and far between. Just a couple and red flag should go up quickly. Get that judge out of the sport. The judges need to be held accountable. They are impacting these fighters lives in so. many ways. They need to be graded, plain and simple. I bet too if they knew the microscope was on them we'd start seeing better scores. Think about it...at your job, if no accountability then the pressure is off and focus is not there. We are all human, its natural. Why worry and stress if you don't need to? The same thing here...if they know they are being graded, well the focus is going to increase. One last thought on judging...lets take away a little of the ambiguity and make it once and for all only clean effective punching. Period. End of discussion. No ring generalship,etc. A simple criteria that we all should be able to agree on.


-stormcentre :

Good comments OuBobcat. However I won't hold my breath that anything will be done. Not in the least as what you propose; a) Is akin to the courts holding lawyers accountable for their indiscretions, including the fact that lawyers are obliged to notify the courts if/when they feel their clients' affidavits are misleading. b) Would ensure the big business end of (boxing) town has no way to exert influence of outcomes. I agree that the cards/judging you spoke (wrote?) of was simply abominable and wrong. There are reasons that we humans don't fix systems that are systemically dysfunctional and repairable, and they usually trace back to plutocracy and/or an evolved familiarity with the "system" which includes the ability to manipulate it and make it work for those that seek control. Merry Xmas.


-stormcentre :

Good comments OuBobcat. However I won't hold my breath that anything will be done. Not in the least as what you propose; a) Is akin to the courts holding lawyers accountable for their indiscretions, including the fact that lawyers are obliged to notify the courts if/when they feel their clients' affidavits are misleading. b) Would ensure the big business end of (boxing) town has no way to exert influence over outcomes, fighters and rival promoters and/or businessmen. I agree that the cards/judging you spoke (wrote?) of was simply abominable and wrong. There are reasons that we humans don't fix systems that are systemically dysfunctional and repairable, and they usually trace back to plutocracy and/or an evolved familiarity with the "system" which includes the ability to manipulate it and make it work for those that seek control. Merry Xmas.


-oubobcat :

Good comments OuBobcat. However I won't hold my breath that anything will be done. Not in the least as what you propose; a) Is akin to the courts holding lawyers accountable for their indiscretions, including the fact that lawyers are obliged to notify the courts if/when they feel their clients' affidavits are misleading. b) Would ensure the big business end of (boxing) town has no way to exert influence over outcomes, fighters and rival promoters and/or businessmen. I agree that the cards/judging you spoke (wrote?) of was simply abominable and wrong. There are reasons that we humans don't fix systems that are systemically dysfunctional and repairable, and they usually trace back to plutocracy and/or an evolved familiarity with the "system" which includes the ability to manipulate it and make it work for those that seek control. Merry Xmas.
I do agree there are reasons the system has not been changed. And some are certainly political. But its broken. We all know that. So if we all know that, it should be time to do something about it even if the powers that be may not necessarily want to see change. Grading the judges in a simple system such as I proposed would be a start. As a matter of fact, we can take it out of the commissions hands. As fans, we can get change if our voices are loud enough. If some of us get together and start tracking this, change can occur. For example, if we see a pattern of a judge grading "F" continually getting fights, start a social media campaign to get that judge out. Publish the scorecards that were in question and ask why they keep getting assignments. It was the voice of the fans mind you that did get CJ Ross out after some questionable scorecards were turned in after high profile fights.


-stormcentre :

I do agree there are reasons the system has not been changed. And some are certainly political. But its broken. We all know that. So if we all know that, it should be time to do something about it even if the powers that be may not necessarily want to see change. Grading the judges in a simple system such as I proposed would be a start. As a matter of fact, we can take it out of the commissions hands. As fans, we can get change if our voices are loud enough. If some of us get together and start tracking this, change can occur. For example, if we see a pattern of a judge grading "F" continually getting fights, start a social media campaign to get that judge out. Publish the scorecards that were in question and ask why they keep getting assignments. It was the voice of the fans mind you that did get CJ Ross out after some questionable scorecards were turned in after high profile fights.
OK - fair enough. Lobby Dino to set up a UI (user interface) on the website that accepts registered forum user's scores/votes on each judge's performance after significant fights. Whether the identity of the scorer remains published or not can be up for debate. I will support it/you so long as the system is not used to vent disappointment, and so long as there is a means by which the judges can also log in and have the right of reply and/or respond to the criticism/applause and explain their actions. Let's see how much traction it gets.


-brownsugar :

Look, this needs to get fixed once and for all. The judging last weekend was hideous in some cases to say the least. I would really like to hear some explanations from these judges as to how they came to their scores in some of these fights. Did anyone watch the Tyson Cave-Oscar Excandon fight? That was by far the worst scores of the three controversial fights from last weekend. Cave dominated the fight. Escandon was off balance and unable to get punches off all night. When he did throw, he missed often. Cave boxed circles around him. It was an easy fight to score. If you were generous, and I mean generous, Escandon won three rounds. I had it 118-110 for Cave. But Raul Caiz scored it 117-111 for Escandon. That is a preposterous card to say the least. And Tony Crebs was not much better at 115-113 for Escandon. There is no possible way that Cave could have only won three and five rounds respectively in that fight. No way...I'd really like to hear the round by round explanation from those judges. Of course, that wasn't the only fight from this weekend. Julie Lederman turned in a horrible card in the Bradley-Chaves fight scoring it for Chaves by a wide margin. That fight turned into a ridiculous draw in a fight that there is no doubt that Bradley easily won. And Mauricio Herrera should have got the nod against Benavidez. At the very least, the margins of those cards were inexplicably wide in the favor of Benavidez. So how do we fix this. Well, my first suggestion probably won't get much steam but I'll suggest it anyway. Its simple, just take five fifth graders, sit them ringside for a fight and ask them at the end who won. I bet they get it right more often than not and would have had the correct result in the three controversial fights from the weekend. Okay that realistically won't fly with commissions. So here is what we do. Its time to grade the judges. Its simple, really. When I was a senior in high school, we had the option of taking one class pass/fail. The grade you received was not "A, B, C, D or F" it was pass or fail. So if you received a "D", on your transcripts all that was shown was "pass." Grading the judges should be just like that system. Scoring a fight is subjective and we are not always going to agree. And sometimes maybe a card looks bad but is not screaming out loud bad. It won't fail and still passes though we may not completely agree with the scoring. However Julie Lederman's and Raul Caiz's cards fail. It does not take a panel of experts to see that. Those scores stand out and they need to held accountable for such bad scores. I am not trying to pick on these judges and they weren't the only ones from this weekend that failed. But they were the worst, no doubt. Basically, a judge's card either passes or fails. We want judges in this sport that receive passing grades consistently. Its not that hard to receive such grades either as again we are failing cards that scream out loud bad. I understand not everyone is perfect and fails will happen. We all have bad days. But it should be few and far between. Okay, really few and far between. Just a couple and red flag should go up quickly. Get that judge out of the sport. The judges need to be held accountable. They are impacting these fighters lives in so. many ways. They need to be graded, plain and simple. I bet too if they knew the microscope was on them we'd start seeing better scores. Think about it...at your job, if no accountability then the pressure is off and focus is not there. We are all human, its natural. Why worry and stress if you don't need to? The same thing here...if they know they are being graded, well the focus is going to increase. One last thought on judging...lets take away a little of the ambiguity and make it once and for all only clean effective punching. Period. End of discussion. No ring generalship,etc. A simple criteria that we all should be able to agree on.
How true The Tyson Cave fight was very reminiscent of Algieri vs Taylor only more onesided...in Cave's favor. But nearly the entire boxing community seemed to choose not to acknowledge or comment upon errors made by Lederman and Ciaz that were so egregis they makes CJ Ross's previous hallucinogenic score card look more righteous than the Ten Commandments. This is one case where Teddy Atlas's rant was well deserved. I just hope the powers that be in boxing were doing more than just turning down the volume.


-oubobcat :

OK - fair enough. Lobby Dino to set up a UI (user interface) on the website that accepts registered forum user's scores/votes on each judge's performance after significant fights. Whether the identity of the scorer remains published or not can be up for debate. I will support it/you so long as the system is not used to vent disappointment, and so long as there is a means by which the judges can also log in and have the right of reply and/or respond to the criticism/applause and explain their actions. Let's see how much traction it gets.
I like that suggestion and think that's a great idea. It has to start somewhere and frankly I don't have confidence in the commissions to start a grading system on their own as this has been an ongoing problem in the sport that has yet to be corrected. Its up to us fans to make our voices heard correctly (like you said not to vent disappoint and allow the other side to state their case) and get the necessary change implemented in this sport we all love.


-Pazuzu :

OK - fair enough. Lobby Dino to set up a UI (user interface) on the website that accepts registered forum user's scores/votes on each judge's performance after significant fights. Whether the identity of the scorer remains published or not can be up for debate. I will support it/you so long as the system is not used to vent disappointment, and so long as there is a means by which the judges can also log in and have the right of reply and/or respond to the criticism/applause and explain their actions. Let's see how much traction it gets.
Excellent idea. I'm in.


-Radam G :

No matter what system you use, human judges will get it wrong. Flesh judging flesh needs to be long gone. Laser-eyed robots should be judging. They will never be bias. Set the rules for judging in their systems, and a mistake would not be made except in the case of an outrage and/or malfunction, or make be a hacker. Then the bout can be canceled until the G-Fam straighten it. Hehehe!
->http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xabQT2mwFqE Holla!