2013 has seen it’s fair share of bad officiating. Ringside judges are human beings and human beings are are fallible, but there have been some downright lousy decisions that compel you to break out your entire box set of conspiracy theories. Some decisions may not be the most popular but a conceivable argument can be made for them. Then there are the head scratching decisions that are so ludicrous you wonder what fight those people were watching.
Off the top of my head, I can think of three decisions (two recent, one from the beginning of the year) that compelled me into making an appointment with my optometrist ASAP.
Rances Barthelemy vs. Arash Usmanee (ESPN’s Friday Night Fights -January 2013).
After watching that broadcast, I penned my review, “Friday Night Fraud.” This bout featured Usmanee clearly outworking Barthelemy for the majority of the fight, and not a slight majority. Barthelemy conceivably could have been given one to two rounds at the beginning but it was all Usmanee after that. What makes it even worse is theunanimous decision for Barthelemy. Somebody doesn’t like Usmanee. (Consequently, he fought to a draw in a bout he was losing against Argenis Mendez to close out Friday Night Fights. Maybe this was their mea culpa.)
Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (Showtime’s The One – September 2013).
After a largely panned, poor scoring performance of the Timothy Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao bout, CJ Ross was tapped by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to judge another high profile bout. The result, tie scoring on a fight that was one sided for all 12 rounds. Generosity will allow the awarding of one, MAYBE, two rounds for Canelo but a tie? After all was said and done, Ross succumbed to public pressure and scrutiny and took an “indefinite leave of absence” from ringside.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Brian Vera (HBO Boxing After Dark – September 2013).
After the topic of weight was discussed until it couldn’t be discussed anymore, it became a non-factor. Grossly considered the underdog, Brian Vera worked enough to at least warrant a split decision but judges saw it different and awarded bratty Chavez Jr. the unanimous decision victory. Since the bout concluded, pictures have surfaced of ringside judge Gwen Adair checking her cell phone and doing other things that took her undivided attention away from the fight.
Judging will always be up for debate since decisions are reliant on human beings and their perceptions, biases, and external influences (crowd noise, etc.) but what about ring referees? The people inside the ring are more adequately trained and rely on rules, right?
Wladimir Klitschko vs. Alexander Povetkin (Referee: Luis Pabon)
This past Saturday, Wladimir Klitschko retained all of his belts and picked up a new one from Alexander Povetkin but jabbing and lying on Povetkin’s back, throwing him to the canvas, and punching in the clinch. When Dr. Steelhammer finally received a point deduction for throwing Povetkin down, it was during an actual knockdown. What about the other rounds this happened in? You can’t fault the fighter if the referee allows it to happen.
Malik Scott vs Dereck Chisora (Referee: Phil Edwards)
Malik Scott got the short end of the stick when he took the knee during his bout against Dereck Chisora.
During a post-knockdown mandatory eight count, Scott did what most fighters do, took the knee to catch a break. Scott watched the count, gets to his feet when Edwards reached nine, but inexplicably Edwards waves the bout off and calledit a TKO for Chisora. Needless to say Team Scott had a fit.
Judging gets a black eye but ring referees deserve their place in the frying pan as well. I wonder if Freddy will pick up this cause during the next season of Friday Night Fights.