Ranking the Worst Boxing Scorecards in 2014 so Far
Unfortunately, for a sport I love, boxing too often receives negative headlines. Those headlines come from the ridiculous decisions made by organizing bodies, fighters ducking other fighters and, of course, bad scorecards or decisions that make the casual fan question the integrity of the sport.
The integrity question gets thrown around too often. Yes, there is some corruption—nearly every sport, business or government has to deal with at least some corruption—but for the most part, the people being accused of it have nothing to gain.
With the growing popularity of MMA an always existent threat, the last thing boxing can afford is a huge scandal involving its integrity that would drive fans away for good. I'm not saying that scandals won't happen, but sometimes problems are caused by incompetence and not corruption.
That being said, terrible scorecards are still an issue and a black eye for the sport. As there are every year, 2014 has had some real head-scratching moments through the first half of the year.
Most trophies are named after a figure in that field who exemplified greatness. In this case the title of worst scorecard should be dubiously named after C.J. Ross or Duane Ford. Like one of those celebrity couple mash-up names, for now the award will be known as the "Ross-Ford Award for Scorecard Un-Excellence."
Has a nice ring to it, right?
Picking the scorecards for this list was easy. Of course, there could have been an awful score turned in during a local show or international fight that I didn't see, but the scores here are all worthy of being mentioned.
What was difficult was ordering them.
The scores ranked as the worst were the ones where I thought the bad score was beyond the margin of error or the room for disagreement. Three judges will rarely see a fight exactly the same way because of a different preference of styles, disagreements in what it takes to win a round, or sometimes something as simple as having a different view of the fight from one judge position to another.
The worst three cards on this list were beyond those exceptions or excuses. The judges involved should honestly have their vision checked and have to go through more training before scoring a major fight again.
Without further delay, here are the worst cards of the year counting down from No. 6 all the way to No 1.
Ruslan Provodnikov over Chris Algieri 117-109
For the record I had Ruslan Provodnikov winning this fight 115-111, but the score of 117-109 from judge Max DeLuca deserves some scrutiny.
Surprisingly impressive showing from Algieri but have him losing rd 12 and the fight. 7-5 in rounds, 115-111 for Provodnikov #boxing— Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac) June 15, 2014
It was a very tough bout to score. It called into question a classic dilemma of whether to score a round for the guy who out-landed the other fighter by a wide margin or the fighter who landed the harder shots.
If the total punches landed are close, then you should score it for the guy who landed the more damaging shots. However, if one fighter is out-landing the other by a 2-1 ratio or higher in a round, then he clearly deserves that round.
Power punches are worth more than jabs, but that doesn't matter if the guy using his jab is landing twice as many punches, which Algieri did in several rounds.
TOTAL PUNCHES- Algieri 288/993 29%, Provodnikov 205/776 26%; POWER- Algieri 177/427 41%, Provodnikov 164/434 38%. #boxing— Ryan Maquiñana (@RMaq28) June 15, 2014
After getting knocked down twice in the opening round, Algieri showed great heart and rebounded to out-land Provodnikov by a wide margin for most of the remaining fight. I think sometimes fans and judges get sucked into a trap of scoring rounds for a bigger-name fighter who has more power and won early rounds in an impressive fashion.
Those factors seem to leave observers biased to where the other boxer has to not only win a round but win it decisively to overcome that mental impression.
Is it boxing or brawling? How much do you weigh the skill involved in maintaining distance, using good defense, outmaneuvering the opponent to be in better position and landing the jab compared to the guy who is landing heavier power punches?
All of those things are important aspects of boxing but are often overlooked; Algieri dominated the match in those areas.
The margin of error in this fight was seven rounds to five either way, so a score of anywhere between 115-112 for Provodnikov to a 113-113 draw with the two knockdowns factored in. Really, all the scorecards were off, but the 117-109 for Provodnikov was the worst of the trio.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Marcos Maidana 114-114
Gauging from the reaction I received from people on Twitter when this fight took place, many of you will probably disagree with my take on this fight, but give me a chance to explain.
Floyd Mayweather was a huge betting favorite coming into his match with Marcos Maidana, but the fight ended up being much closer than expected. In fact, you could argue that it was the toughest match of Mayweather's career.
CompuBox has tracked 38 Mayweather fights. Maidana landed the most punches (221) of any against Mayweather.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) May 4, 2014
However, just because it was his toughest fight doesn't necessarily mean that he lost the match.
The casual fan who was outraged on Twitter after the match likely doesn't understand how boxing is scored.
That viewer just saw that Maidana was applying the majority of the pressure and that the overall fight was close, so in their mind the scorecard should also automatically be close. What they don't realize is that the overall view of the fight isn't relevant to the score of the fight.
Boxing matches are scored round by round with each round treated as separate from the rest of the match. So, in theory, you could have a match that is very close overall, but if one fighter is winning each round by a hair, the scorecard could still appear lopsided.
It's kind of similar to the Electoral College system that we use to elect our presidents.
In that system, a candidate could win a state by a very slim margin of 51 percent to 49 percent, but even though the margin is close, he or she would still get all the votes that come with the victory.
In boxing, a fight can be extremely close overall but have a lopsided score if the same fighter is winning every close round.
What that same fan also didn't seem to understand is that boxing scores clean punches and effective aggressiveness to determine who won a round. Maidana pressured Mayweather for the majority of the fight, but a lot of it came with pushing or looping punches that didn't connect cleanly; therefore, while it looked like the challenger was in control, none of his ineffective offense was being scored.
With Mayweather backing up and spending time leaning against the ropes, it appeared he was behind and being out-landed, but a boxer can still outwork his opponent while moving backward or up against the ropes.
Despite how it looked, Mayweather actually landed more total punches, but the real difference in the fight was with his accuracy. He landed just nine more total punches than Maidana, but his connect rate was significantly higher at 54 percent to just 26 percent from Maidana.
Maidana may have thrown more, but because Mayweather was more accurate, he landed more total punches and connected on a higher percentage of his thrown punches, which made him the more effective fighter that night.
Maidana did very well early but couldn't keep up the smothering pressure late & Mayweather timed him & out landed him. Good effort— Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac) May 4, 2014
The pressure from Maidana won him several early rounds, but once Mayweather figured out the angles and strategy of Maidana, he began to land his lead right hand and also catch the challenger with a counterpunch whenever the Argentine would lunge in.
I was pulling for Maidana, but Mayweather clearly won the fight, even though it was close.
My gut feeling is now that Mayweather knows what to expect, the rematch on September 13 won't be as close.
Danny Garcia over Mauricio Herrera 116-112
Danny Garcia did not win that fight.
He may not have lost it either, but I can't find seven rounds to score in his favor no matter how hard I look.
Mauricio Herrera's awkward style bothered Garcia early in the fight and caused the champion to never get into a good rhythm. Garcia started to find his range—especially in the last few rounds with his dangerous left hook—but it was too little, too late to win the fight.
Was he distracted by fighting in Puerto Rico where his family is from? Was he gassed from trying to make weight, which he admitted as being difficult? Did he possibly just not take Herrera seriously?
All of those factors could help explain his poor performance, but regardless of why it happened, he did not do enough to win the decision to any observer looking at the fight objectively.
Herrera looked faster and out-jabbed him by a wide margin. His style caused Garcia to go through periods of inactivity and ineffectiveness.
According to Dan Rafael of ESPN, who had the fight 114-114, not surprisingly, Mauricio Herrera thought he won the fight:
I was perfectly prepared for the fight. I was the one who had to put on the pressure. I went to make the fight. I felt I won the fight. I threw more punches. A lot of his shots weren't landing but the crowd was screaming. I thought I finished strong, too. I thought it was close but that I won the fight.
Unfortunately, a challenger sometimes has to beat his opponent, the crowd and the three judges to win a match and claim a belt. There's always room for disagreement in boxing, but even that has its limits.
The two judges who scored it 116-112 or eight rounds to four are either incompetent or favored the hometown favorite in the fight.
114-114, 116-112 twice for.... Danny Garcia.... yeah, Mauricio Herrera never really had a chance in this fight. Lets be honest #boxing— Steve Kim (@steveucnlive) March 16, 2014
The win cast a shadow over what had otherwise been a great string of success for the undefeated 140-pound champion. Garcia had recent wins over several top-notch fighters like Lucas Matthysse, Amir Khan and Zab Judah but took what should have been an easier fight and didn't perform up to expectations.
The mood surrounding Garcia quickly soured after that gift decision. The opponent chosen for him next month has certainly made things worse.
The unintended consequence of his performance against Herrera and opponent selection for his fight in August will likely be that he plummets down the list of future Mayweather opponents.
Jessie Vargas over Khabib Allakhverdiev 117-111
Now we're getting to the part in this countdown where the scorecards are not just off a little bit but so bad that the judge involved should probably lose his or her job or at least be demoted to smaller fights.
This fight was on the undercard of the highly anticipated rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. The fight was close, but I thought Khabib Allakhverdiev won 115-113. A few rounds could have gone either way, so if you gave every close round to Vargas, I could see how he might wind up winning a decision.
Harold Lederman of HBO and Dan Rafael of ESPN also had the fight 115-113 for Allakhverdiev.
However, 117-111 for Jessie Vargas—which is nine rounds to three—is lunacy.
Dan Rafael of ESPN also took issue with the wide-margin score in favor of Vargas:
Allakhverdiev seemed to control the fight and was very obviously the harder puncher. Vargas, who dropped down from welterweight for the fight, raised swelling under Allakhverdiev's right eye in the third round and it got worse as the fight went on. He eventually had both eyes marked up, but a lot of the damage was caused by accidental head-butts. Allakhverdiev closed strong with a big 12th round in which Vargas did very little, but it was not enough on the scorecards.
Perhaps the judges were partially influenced by the cut over Allakhverdiev's eye. The cut was opened by an accidental butt, but maybe the visual damage on his face swung the vote for the judges during close rounds.
Whatever the reason, it was a shame the judges missed the boxing match going on right in front of them.
As you would expect, the punch numbers were pretty close. Allakhverdiev landed more total punches through 11 rounds before easily winning the 12th.
Total punches through 11 rounds - Allakhverdiev - 210 of 612 | Vargas - 202 of 602 #PacBradley 2— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) April 13, 2014
Allakhverdiev immediately requested a rematch, but the fight was boring, so I doubt any network will beat down the door to make it happen.
Vargas may have won, but he didn't deserve the victory.
Gary Russell Jr. vs. Vasyl Lomachenko 114-114
Activity in a fight counts and is part of the equation, but any judge who thought the activity level of Gary Russell Jr. was enough to win him seven rounds should have to go through some training before he or she scores another match.
To Russell's credit, while his feathery jabs weren't landing, they did for cause Vasyl Lomachenko to go through periods of inactivity. It was obvious very early in the fight that Russell Jr. had little chance of landing anything of consequence, but every time he threw the double- or triple-jab, Lomachenko would back up and reset before coming forward again with his offense.
In the rounds where the punch totals were even or close to it, I can see that as being enough to win the round for Russell Jr., since his jab controlled the action by backing off Lomachenko. They didn't land, but in a low-output round, controlling the action is enough in some cases.
Even with that criteria and point of view, at most that was enough to score three or four rounds for Russell Jr., who landed a comically awful 83 total punches with just a 10 percent connect percentage.
Lomachenko, on the other hand, landed twice as many punches and landed them with much more force and damaging power, leaving Russell Jr. with swelling around his left eye.
We go to cards: 114-114 (pathetic!!!!), 116-1112x2 for the winner and now 126 titlist Vasyl Lomachenko!!!! #boxing— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) June 22, 2014
Lisa Giampa's 114-114 scorecard in this fight might not have been as bad as the 114-114 in the Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez fight or the two judges who gave Timothy Bradley the decision over Manny Pacquiao in their first fight, but she has officially joined C.J. Ross and Duane Ford in the club of boxing's worst judges.
As you know by how I viewed the Chris Algieri decision against Ruslan Provodnikov, I'm willing to give a boxer rounds for being more active with jabs, but Russell Jr. wasn't as effective as Algieri was against Provodnikov. The jabs from Algieri were at least causing the head of Provodnikov to snap back, while Russell Jr. looked like he stole the pillow-gloves of Paulie Malignaggi.
Fighters can win a match with jabs over a better power puncher, but they have to be efficient and effective; Russell Jr. was not close to being either.
Beibut Shumenov over Bernard Hopkins 114-113
This scorecard is right there with the 114-114 in the Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez fight or the two scorecards from blind judges in favor of Timothy Bradley over Manny Pacquiao in their first match.
Boxing is filled with plenty of room for interpretation and disagreement because in many ways it's a beauty contest, but the judge who gave the fight to Beibut Shumenov over Bernard Hopkins is either incompetent or was on the take.
Again, we're not talking about whether or not a football crossed the goal line or if a baseball went above or below the yellow home run line; scoring in boxing is not black and white. However, there is no way a clean and competent judge could legitimately score this fight for Shumenov.
Since I can't imagine what would be gained by a Shumenov victory, I'll assume the mistake was made from incompetence.
Dan Rafael of ESPN also was confused by the lone scorecard in favor of Shumenov:
...even Shumenov didn't think he won the fight. How could he? He was outclassed by cagey Hopkins, who even found a dose of his dormant power by scoring a clean knockdown in the 11th round on a right hand to the head, which brought the heavily pro-Hopkins crowd of 6,823 to its feet at the DC Armory. The knockdown was Hopkins' first since he dropped Joe Calzaghe in the first round of a light heavyweight title fight in 2008.
The judge who gave the fight to Shumenov had him winning seven rounds. Seven! I had Shumenov winning a few rounds less on my scorecard.
The defense from Shumenov during the fight was non-existent. His hands were never in the correct position, his head never moved, and he left himself wide open every time he threw a punch. Hopkins has been an excellent counterpuncher since the Jimmy Carter administration, so the style of Shumenov was tailor-made for B-Hop to pick apart.
The knockdown came from an impressive shot from Hopkins, but it should have never happened.
What's funny about the knockdown is Hopkins faked a jab 2 set up the big right but Shumenov's defense is so bad he never reacted @MJ4Sports— Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac) April 20, 2014
The punch stats further illustrate how lopsided the fight was. Hopkins landed 51 percent of his power punches compared to just 20 percent from Shumenov.
Honestly, I still can't figure out what one judge saw to give the fight to Shumenov.