Why Boxing Must Not Employ an Open Scoring System

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Why Boxing Must Not Employ an Open Scoring System
David Becker/Getty Images
Promoter Bob Arum wants to start using an Open Scoring system.

Whenever there is a controversy in boxing involving the scoring of a fight (which is seemingly every other week) an outcry can be heard from somewhere, pleading for the sport to bring in “Open Scoring.” 

Bob Arum is now leading the charge to use Open Scoring.

Here is how “Open Scoring” works.  After every round, the three judge’s cards are collected by the referee and handed to a member of the governing state commission.  They then mark their official scorecard on an electronic, computer-like screen.  When the commission member presses “Enter,” the scorecard of each official appears on a large screen above the ring and in selected areas of the arena prior to or just after the following round begins.   The crowd then sees the scores.  This goes on round after round.

It was once suggested to me during my days as Boxing Commissioner in New York State that I try open scoring, round after round.  I respectfully turned the suggestion down.  On second thought, maybe I wasn’t so respectful.  Then it was suggested I try it every other round.  I turned that down, too.  It was even suggested that I try it at the mid-point in the fight.  Nope!  I turned thumbs down on that, as well.

We all know what happened last Saturday.  Manny Pacquiao fought Timothy Bradley.  Pacquiao won.  Well, at least we saw him win the fight.  Two people who watched didn’t think he won.  Those two were Ms. CJ Ross and Mr. Duane Ford.  They were two of the judges. 

Another judge, Mr. Jerry Roth, would have also been freaking us out.  Even though he had Pacquiao winning, his score was not indicative of how far out in front Pacquiao really was.

Can you picture the uproar that would have gone on in the arena had the round-by-round scores been posted?  Another round would have ended—another round you just knew Pacquiao won.  Then the scores would have been posted. 

Jeff Bottari/Getty Images
Pacquiao in action vs Bradley

WHAT!!  Another round to Bradley???  And another!  And another!!  By the fight’s mid-point, when Pacquiao was beginning to pull away and seal his victory, fans would have realized he needs to fight his butt off in order to win.  As for Bradley, knowing he was pulling ahead on the scorecards might have put him in a defensive mode, prompting him to jab, move and grab at every opportunity. 

If 100 percent of those in the arena (except for Ms. Ross, Mr. Ford and Mr. Roth) didn’t know Pacquiao was winning throughout the fight, then it was 99.999 percent.  Heavy security would have been needed in order to protect Ms. Ross, Mr. Ford and Mr. Roth from an angry mob of fight fans who knew what they were watching and what they were being fed.

Opening scoring changes the sport entirely.  It’s as bad as Olympic scoring, where five judges must push either a blue button or a red button in order to come up with a score. 

That, too, is a joke. 

I was in Barcelona, announcing the Olympic Boxing competition in 1992.  I sat behind a judge, who I saw looking down at his keypad during action in a round.  He had forgotten which button was on the left.  Was it the blue button or the red button?  If he was looking down, how could he know what was going on?  Keypad scoring is a joke.  A farce.

So is Open Scoring.

Want to know what works?  Not keypads.  Not Open Scoring.  An incompetent judge makes for an incompetent keypad and for incompetent Open Scoring.  A dishonest judge makes for a dishonest keypad and dishonest Open Scoring. 

What we need are competent judges and honest ones.

It isn’t hard hard to find them, but they are out there.

Use them!  Get rid of the incompetent ones and the dishonest ones.  While you’re at it, get rid of the keypads and forget about Open Scoring!

That’s how to fix, er, repair boxing!

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