The Judges Don't Get A Do Over - Neither Do You
Judge Ross had one shot to score this fight. So should you, reader. Of course hindsight is 20/20. Lotierzo maintains. (Hohan Photos)
Well, it's been two plus weeks since Timothy Bradley's disputed split decision victory over Manny Pacquiao. And during the course of the past two weeks, mostly everyone who watched the fight live on June 9th has re watched it again trying to see what they missed and how two supposedly competent professional judges could score the fight in Bradley's favor.
For the record I scored the fight 117-111 / 9-3 Pacquiao. That's a score which I would've submitted directly after the fight had I been working it as a judge. For years I've stated that the judges don't have the best vantage point to view the fight being that they're below the ring and have to look up at the action taking place. But that has nothing to do with the Pacquiao-Bradley bout. Judges have been sitting in the same spot scoring fights for over 100 years and managed to end up with the correct verdict regarding the decision most of the time. So forget about where they sit for the time being.
That said, if you don't get the scoring right in fights that are one-sided, you shouldn't be judging fights. It's true that you can misread a few things that take place in the ring, but any competent judge should be able to pick up on nearly anything that happens in the ring, regardless of where you're seated. There's never an excuse for coming up with the wrong winner in a fight that's one-sided.
The point here is you can go back and watch Pacquiao-Bradley or Frazier-Ali 1 until the stars fall from the sky. What ever score you come up with doesn't count nor does it matter. The only score that matters is the one you had on the night of the fight as you watched the bout in the moment. The judges don't get any do over and neither should any observer. If you had a gripe about the decision when it was announced, that's all that matters. However, if you went back and watched the fight over and over and concluded that Bradley wasn't as hurt or shook as you originally thought, too bad. Because when you watched the fight in the moment you thought he was more rattled than he actually was during the replay.
The only legitimate feel you can get for the fight happens in the moment. When you go back and watch it again and see that certain punches didn't land as cleanly as you originally thought, again, too bad. See, the judges, who I have no love for, don't have the luxury of going back and watching it again.
Something else that comes into play when watching/scoring a fight is -- the bigger puncher, when he lands, usually appears to be more in control than the fighter who is the mover or boxer. Round seven of Pacquiao-Bradley is a perfect example. On the night of the fight it looked as if Bradley was throwing like an amateur and was just placing his spaghetti armed shots. Then towards the end of the round Manny gets through with three pretty good lefts that rock Bradley as he looks to get out.
On the night of the fight Pacquiao's three clean lefts are what seemed to carry the round. However, when I watched the fight a second time, Bradley didn't look as shook as it felt like he was the night of the fight. So in hindsight, I can see a case for Bradley perhaps winning the seventh round. Again, that means nothing because on the night of the bout I saw it as a Pacquiao round.
The in the moment has a lot to do with scoring a professional fight. If fighter A looks hurt as you're watching the fight, then your perception is that he's hurt and you score the round for Fighter B. Going back and realizing that it wasn't as bad as you thought may be the more accurate description, but it's too late because as stated earlier, there's no do overs. Only how you saw the fight as it happens matters.
This isn't giving judges Jerry Roth and C.J. Ross a pass and account for how they scored the fight. The point is, the only score that counts is the one you came to on June 9th 2012. I find much fault with how they scored the fight. As the fight was unfolding I was reaching to give Bradley rounds. And that was after scoring the first round in his favor. As it's been said repeatedly, there were four rounds that could be viewed as swing rounds, but that's it. On the night of the fight I unknowingly at the time split them and that's apparently how I ended up with the fight 9-3 for Pacquiao.
In hindsight after watching the replay, the fight did seem a little more closely contested, but that's not what I saw when viewing it live, something that makes the cards submitted by Ross and Roth more perplexing. This isn't a debate as to why they saw the fight the way they did. It's to illustrate that the only scorecard that means anything is the one you render the night of the fight.
Below is a link to Frazier-Ali I, rounds three and four. I was at the fight that night. Granted, I was only 11 but was into my fourth year being obsessed with boxing. Both the judges and referee scored rounds three and four in favor of Joe Frazier. I too felt Frazier won those two rounds the night of the fight. His big left hooks at the end of the rounds were what you most remembered along with Ali looking a little unsure of himself.
When I got the tape of the fight years later, I thought the judges were blind. Watching the tape, it's obvious Ali dominated most of the round in both cases, but Joe came on big at the end of them. Live, it seemed to appear that Ali was in trouble and Joe had the upper hand. On tape, Ali doesn't look as hurt or in trouble.
On the night of the fight everyone saw rounds three and four in favor of Frazier. Yet when I watch the replay, I give those rounds to Muhammad Ali. Unfortunately, that doesn't count because had I been a judge that night, I would've joined Artie Aidala, Bill Rhect and Arthur Mercante and scored them for Frazier. Check it out below.
The next time there's a controversy over the scoring of a fight, your only argument is how you score the fight while watching it in the moment.