Armchair Boxing Judges Need Some Perspective

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Armchair Boxing Judges Need Some Perspective
John Gichigi/Getty Images

If you ask any boxing fan what they dislike most about the sport, bad decisions on the part of judges will certainly come up.

Before we start throwing objects at the television over a questionable scorecard, we need to stop and think about what really goes into being a judge, and scoring a fight.

The recent fights that have caused the most controversy are Paul Williams' win over Sergio Martinez and Juan Diaz's defeat of Paulie Malignaggi.

In both fights most spectators considered the action to be too close to call, and in both fights a single judge gave the winning fighter a huge margin.

While this caused a lot of anger, it does make sense for a couple reasons.  First, judges do not score fights as one big event.  The scoring is done round by round, where fans tend to look at the big picture.

A lot of fans had a problem with Ricky Hatton's close win over Luis Collazo, where Hatton was hurt badly in the final round.  Something like that happening in the 12th can leave a big impression on a fan, but when you go back and watch the whole fight, Ricky was the more active and (in my opinion as well as the judges) effecti vie fighter in most of the rounds of a very close match.

Hypothetically, a very close fight could be scored a shut out, assuming the judge thinks a fighter won every round by a narrow margin.  Alternatively, a fight can be close on the scorecards while not being very competitive if one fighter dominates half the rounds and the other wins the rest of the rounds by a narrow margin.

The other reason that scorecards can vary so much between two good, honest judges  is that they are given a lot of room to have their own style of judging.

For example, if you consider hard punching to be the most important part of a fight, it makes sense that you would have Diaz beating Malignaggi.

In the Williams fight, Paul was more active and aggressive, while Martinez has a counter punching style.  Even though I personally thought Martinez deserved the decision, I didn't have a huge problem with the 119-110 scorecard because I understand that judge is someone who values aggression more than I would.  If that is the number one criteria in your book, you would probably have to give Williams nearly every round.

Another point to consider is that how wide the margin is makes no difference in the outcome—115-113 is exactly the same as 120-108 in terms of who wins the fight. Sure, the if judges discussed had closer cards fans may have been happier, but it wouldn't have really changed anything.

Fans need to remember also that while scoring at home is a lot of fun, your opinion is very flawed compared to a professional judge.  You are subconsciously reacting to the commentators telling you whats happening, the crowd, and of course you are likely rooting for one fighter. 

Even if you try and convince yourself that you are being objective, think about how often your home scorecard goes along with who you picked before the fight, or which fighter was your favorite.  In my case, I've noticed that quite often I catch myself trying to come up with reasons why my guy won a round.

All in all, I think fans need to calm down about decisions not going the way they would have liked them to, and understand that the important part of boxing is impressing the three official judges, not the millions of unofficial ones.

And of course, unlike other judged sports like gymnastics or figure skating, every fighter has the cure for a bad judge resting in their own hands.

Get the knockout, and you don't have to worry about it.

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