On Saturday afternoon before a live national TV audience, Boxing returned to NBC with a rematch of former Cruiserweight champions, Steve Cunningham and Tomasz Adamek. This fight was supposed to be the fight that excelled the winner’s career into a possible title shot with one of the Klitschko brothers in 2013. What we got, however, was what has plagued the sport, once again—bad officials.
While it was Adamek throwing the harder shots, Cunningham used his boxing skills to control the bout from the start. Using his jab to control the pace, Cunningham was well ahead on most pundit cards the entire fight, while Adamek tried to steal each round with around 20 seconds to go. His face bruised and discolored, Adamek needed a knockout to win…so we thought.
Adamek had out-landed Cunningham 120-80 in power shots, Cunningham led in overall punches 209-169, including landing 129 of 349 jabs. Clearly in control, Cunningham thought he had avenged the controversial lost to Adamek nearly five years ago. Then the scores of the judges were read: 115-113 for Cunningham, and 116-112 and 115-112 for the winner…TOMASZ ADAMEK??!!
Now, for those of us that have followed the sport for years, we have become immune to horrible scoring by judges. One can remember as Erislandy Lara was clearly ahead of Paul Williams in their bout back in July 2011, only to get robbed that night in Atlantic City. Or Marvin Hagler’s defeat to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987, when Hagler dominated the fight, only to lose to the returning Leonard.
These scores have become way too common in the sport. For not only a great fighter, but a great person in Steve Cunningham to go through such a travesty, not once but twice, in his soon-to-be hall of fame career, maybe it’s finally time for the sport to have a universal commission.
We need to make these judges accountable for some of the horrible scoring that continues on in the sport. When the sport has its chance to finally get back in the national spotlight, this ugly facade happens again. It’s time to end this, for not only fighters like Cunningham, Lara and Hagler, but for the up-and-coming fighters in the future. The question now is who is ready to step up and make this happen??