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Bad Judging: A Case Study

BY The Sweet Science ON February 05, 2012
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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.

Comment on this article

the Roast says:

Horrible scorecard turned in by Garcia. This was an easy fight to score. Vazquez hung tough but he only won two rounds at best. Maybe Garcia dozed off alot. Maybe he was on the take. I don't know but no way does he get a pencil and a rindside seat ever again.

dino da vinci says:

I agree with Roast. Inept officiating has destroyed the sport.

reyocs says:

He mr.rober garcia better not to judge again plzzzzz..he will be banned forever on boxing council.....he better judge in the wwe mania..

reyocs says:

Yes..mr.roben garcia better banned judging on boxing..

Ama Ya says:

I am just an ordinary audience and not a boxing expert but as I looked between Donaire and Vasquez’s fight through our small TV, it is very clear Donaire is a clear winner with a big margin. Even my nephew who is just a 10 years of age who happened sitting beside me in our house during the fight night told me while the result was not yet announced that Donaire is the winner. How Judge Garcia scored the fight?

cesarv1949336699 says:

I don't know how Judge Garcia scored it 115 - 112. It must be on his vantage point that he viewed the fight. If that is so, let me have a humble idea that in every judge of boxing event, let there be a recording camera (preperably a small camera attached to his head, this is to synchronize his head movement with the camera) that can be viewed after the fight so that if the judge score is questionable, just review the recorded event on that vantage point of the judge. This precautionary measure of putting camera will not only caution the judge of making a bad decision but will find out if a judge is competent enough to be a judge. No hokus pokus?

nashingun says:

honestly, i got vasquez winning only 5 rounds, but the 9th round knock down made it hard for him to win. so if judge ruben garcia had it 115-112 in vasquez favor then that knock down may not have been counted and donaire only won 5 rounds the most.

maromero says:

my dog had nightmares cause of this judge

Radam G says:

Ditto the Roast! He's DA MAN! Holla!

mortcola says:

Guy scored the fight like an ignorant, excited fan might have scored it - having an orgasm every time Vasquez landed a single jab or right, convincing himself that the Donaire's punches didn't matter. Thing that blows me away, also, is that it isn't anonymous. Who in his right mind would willingly put up an incompetent or fraudulent scorecard knowing full well that the boxing world and the big money players are watching? Is this guy self-destructive? Insane?

SeriousLi says:

Dr Ruben Garcia scored it "correctly", except that he had thought Donaire was Vasquez and vice versa. In his notes Donaire was wearing black globes and Vasquez red globes.

He should never be allowed to judge any contests again, not even amateur singing contests.

tonyastro says:

Don't forget to mention the 10-8 round. Ruben Garcia is obviously Latino. I've seen this kind of biased judging when it comes to Latino judges and their fighters. Call me racist if you want but that's not the point. I've seen this happen way too many times not just Latino judges but referees officiating in favor of their kind. It's even worse when it's Mexican for Mexican.

Radam G says:

@maromero, HEHEHEHEHEHE! That was a classic. You are one funny dude. I bet the fleas on the neighbor's dog had a nerve-wracking breakdown. Holla!

dino da vinci says:

Dr Ruben Garcia scored it "correctly", except that he had thought Donaire was Vasquez and vice versa. In his notes Donaire was wearing black globes and Vasquez red globes.

He should never be allowed to judge any contests again, not even amateur singing contests.


Especially NOT the amateurs. Why allow them to destroy the dreams and crush the spirit of young future prospects?

ali says:

In my Charles Barkley voice that judge was terrible!!!!!

jawo says:

Well with all the obvious indicators for Mr Garcia and yet he still scored it for Vasquez....I can't help but the only way I can think of is he got some extra pay....as simple as that. This guy has to be investigated. It is ruining the sport, robbed the boxers and made a fool out of the fans. This guy Dr. Garcia is a SICK DOCTOR!

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