The powers-that-be in professional boxing should introduce a new rule: Only judges are to sit at ringside.
You may well be wondering, "What the hell?"
That would be a fair question. The reason I say that stems from drama that came at the conclusion of the Super-Six boxing match last Saturday night in Detroit.
The fight ended with Andre Dirrell on the canvas, after Arthur Abraham didn't put the brakes on a right hand to the chin.
The fight also ended, might I add, with the referee Laurence Cole not visible on the television screen.
Some have said that he pulled Abraham away from Dirrell. Nothing could be further from the truth. Abraham met him halfway on his sojourn to the "crime" scene.
Cole truly didn't know what was happening.
The clock showed 1:55 to go in the 11th round when Dirrell went down. Cole came over, sent Abraham to a neutral corner, and appeared to be ready to begin counting Dirrell out.
It was only after Cole was informed by members of the Showtime broadcasting crew—Al Bernstein, Antonio Tarver, and Steve Albert—that Abraham hit Dirrell while he was down, he called in the doctor.
Then at 1:27, a full 28 seconds after Dirrell was hit, Cole told Abraham he was DQ'd.
What would have happened had Cole not been informed of the happenings?
He did not rely on fact, but rather, the opinion of boxing "experts" who could see much better than he.
Being at ringside, those guys could see plainly that Dirrell was going down, and that Abraham hit him while doing so. Abraham was looking into the Dirrell's eyes (or even higher, if you look in slow motion) and not aware that he was down.
The announcers, not just Showtime, I am speaking about all of them—HBO, ESPN, FOX, the whole lot of them—are too close, too vocal, and too opinionated to be objective.
They can influence the judges with their scoring, and obviously the referee with his officiating of the fight.
Where is replay when it is needed? That fight ended in controversy wrapped in confusion, sprinkled with BS.
If a referee took the time to look at the tape (in real time and in slow motion), he would see that it was not intentional.
He could have deducted a point or two from Abraham and given Dirrell five minutes to regroup.
The punch that was heard around the world was not that big of a deal. Yeah, Abe hits hard, but that shot was not fully cocked.
Dirrell didn't start laying down until he heard Bernstein say that "if he is knocked out Abraham should be disqualified."
The man knew the fight was his if he could stay away, but it became increasingly clear that he couldn't run much longer. A DQ would be a nice, respectable way out.
Football uses replays, so does basketball, and now even baseball uses it sparingly.
Reporters and announcers do not need to sit under the fighters, even if they have been doing so since Bert Sugar was a little kid. They can see all they need to see in an area away from talking distance.
I have seen fighters play to what the announcers say at times. You have too. Admit it!
Is this just another part of the secret workings of the game? I have been watching boxing for over 50 years, and I love the sport.
It is the only sport (I think) where nobody knows what the score is at any time prior to the end. And now we see the media influencing the officials.
I don't know what the answer is to finding a place for them to sit, but it should be at least 30-40 feet from the ring apron. And the replay should be used if there is any serious controversy involved.
As Warner Wolf would say, "Let's go to the video tape."
Better yet, let's just fire all the referees and let the media "experts" decide the fights.
Photo courtesy of Robert Ecksel