A FORMULA FOR QUELLING CONTROVERSIAL DECISIONS — During this month of March we’ve seen two high profile title bouts in New York City in boxing’s two most glamor divisions outside of heavyweight. On March 4th we saw WBA welterweight title holder Keith Thurman win a 12-round split decision over WBC title holder Danny Garcia. Both were undefeated heading into the bout. After eight rounds it looked as if Thurman was going to run away with fight. However, realizing he had a comfortable lead and that he didn’t punch hard enough to knock Garcia out, he more or less went through the motions. Garcia, sensing time was running out picked it up and fought with more urgency down the stretch and closed the gap.
Two of the judges scored it for Thurman, 116-112 and 115-113, with the third judge seeing it 115-113 Garcia. After the fight, Garcia and his father/trainer cried robbery and they were supported by a fairly decent-sized faction who also thought Danny won. (I scored it 116-112 /8-4 in favor of Thurman). The point is, after 12-rounds, in the eyes of more than a few, there really wasn’t a conclusive winner. Wouldn’t it have been great to see how rounds 13-15 would have unfolded? I’d be willing to bet that if Thurman-Garcia was scheduled for 15 rounds, there would’ve been a more conclusive winner and less fan bickering on March 5th!
This past Saturday night, Gennady Golovkin 37-0 (33) defended his multiple middleweight title belts against the universally recognized best opponent he’s ever faced, WBA “regular” world champion Danny Jacobs 32-2 (29). The fight at Madison Square Garden was a fairly action-packed bout which saw Golovkin drop Jacobs with a right hand in the fourth round. Jacobs, who wasn’t really hurt, boxed smartly, using the ring and punching just enough to keep Golovkin occupied, thereby preventing him from being cornered or really worked over by Gennady. The fight had a lot of ebbs and flows and neither fighter ever really established complete control. At times each did what he wanted and prevented the other from doing what he wanted.
The bout ultimately was left up to the three judges who saw it unanimously for Golovkin by the scores of 115-112, 115-112 and 114-113. For the record I scored it 114-113. I had the fight coming down to the last round which I gave to Golovkin, making it in 6-6 in rounds but GGG up by a point due to the knockdown. Jacobs fought a great fight and I have no problem if anyone had Jacobs winning it by a point. Unlike Thurman-Garcia, the Golovkin-Jacobs bout could’ve gone either way. Had Jacobs won the decision by a point I’d have no issue with that.
What I have an issue with is that it’s becoming too frequent that the day following a big title bout, media and fans are voicing their displeasure with the outcome, arguing that the wrong fighter had his hands raised. As I write this there’s a war being fought on Facebook and Twitter as to who really won the fight. Those who support the decision base their case on Golovkin scoring the only knockdown and the fact that according to the punch stats (which I think are worthless) Gennady out-landed Jacobs 231-175. Those who think Jacobs was ripped off, point to how smart he boxed and how he stymied GGG’s offensive output and pretty much neutralized his best punch, his left hook. Jacobs also used his reach and switched to southpaw for gaps of the fight which at times had Golovkin second guessing himself.
As a hardcore boxing guy, I would love to have seen how Golovkin-Jacobs would’ve unfolded had there been three more rounds. No, I won’t take what we saw and hypothetically add three rounds to the back end and ponder what would’ve happened since I know the fighters would’ve prepared and fought differently had the bout been scheduled for 15 rounds. What I do know is 15 rounds separate the men from the boys. Today, it’s too easy for one fighter to run out to a sizable lead and then coast because of the short 12 round distance. On top of that, so many fights hinge on one round tilting a fight from 6-6 to 7-5, and there’s the difference between a loss and a legacy. This doesn’t seem right.
To this day there are those arguing over who won the De La Hoya-Trinidad welterweight unification bout back in 1999. Conversely, no one is arguing who won the 1981 welterweight unification bout between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns — a fight in which Leonard was trailing after the 12th round.
It was said back in the late 1980s when title bouts went from 15 rounds to 12 rounds that it was a concession to television as it was easier for the networks to squeeze in a 12-round bout. Well, today an overwhelming majority of title fights are on cable or PPV – so that no longer applies.
I say get rid of 12 round title bouts. Fifteen rounds is the true championship distance. Had Thurman-Garcia, Golovkin-Jacobs or Ward-Kovalev been scheduled for 15 rounds, I seriously doubt the winner would remain in question after the verdict was rendered. Call it a hunch!
On top of that…….allow judges to score “even” rounds. The first round of Golovkin-Jacobs is the poster child as to why. Sometimes neither fighter does enough to merit a round. If boxing judges are forced to make a decision between the fighter who landed five throwaway jabs and award him a title over the fighter who landed three, then expect MMA to pull further ahead of boxing.
Lastly, get rid of punch count. I bet if you had the same two guys watch the same fight the following day, their numbers would be different. It’s a waste of time and a futile attempt for boxing to be progressive. I watched the Golovkin-Jacobs bout and thought Golovkin could’ve got off more. When the punches landed numbers were revealed, I was in disbelief. Junk it!
Boxing is getting good again. There’s a plethora of outstanding fighters. Unfortunately, when they’ve met recently the results haven’t been conclusive, and that wasn’t the case when boxing thrived.
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Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com