By Ivan G. Goldman
Word comes from the WBC that instant replay will now be available to review some calls in WBC, WBA, and IBF championship fights. The WBC said the three sanctioning groups agreed to it when they met last June in Cancun, Mexico.
The instant replay recourse, said the WBC, will also be used for regional titles. The WBC said replay has been used in its sanctioned fights for eight years. In reality it’s rarely been employed and can’t be used unless the ruling commission goes along with it.
The WBO was left out of the agreement. The other three major alphabet gangs like to treat the WBO, the youngest member, as though it doesn’t exist, although fighters tend not to feel that way. WBO title holders include respected champions such as Wladimir Klitschko, Sergey Kovalev, Mikey Garcia, and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
The NFL has used instant replay to check some close calls since 1986. The NHL has used it since 1991 to help decide whether a goal was or was not scored. The NBA came aboard in 2002, at first only to check whether shots beat the buzzer. It’s now used in many other situations, such as to check on alleged fouls, three-point boundaries, and other split-second sources of debate. Major league baseball umpires began making limited use of replay videos in 2008.
Boxing fans watching at home have grown used to seeing rotten calls on TV. An entire 12-round fight can be decided on the basis of one split-second call. For example, when a fighter goes down from a low blow, if the referee didn’t see it, that could make it a 10-8 round for a fighter who got credit for a knockdown when he very possibly should have lost a point instead.
In some states, such as California, a referee can flatly admit he wasn’t in position to make the call and ask the opinion of the three judges. But that doesn’t always work well. I saw a ref do that once in a four-rounder at the Forum in Inglewood and a judge said a bad cut was caused by a head butt. I was sitting ringside and saw clearly that the cut was opened by a crisp left hook. The doctor said the fighter was bleeding too badly to continue. What should have been ruled a technical knockout was ruled a technical draw. The bleeding fighter celebrated in the ring. The fighter who threw the punch, Nikko Robledo, was so disgusted he never fought again.
The main complaint about instant replay is that it slows down the game.
But it would be nice to know we can get a solid ruling on whether we just saw a knockdown or a slip or whether a low blow came about because the struck fighter pulled the puncher’s head down.
Right now the three alphabet gangs in question award so many titles – interim titles, for example – that it’s not easy to know just what bouts are considered championship contests and might therefore be eligible for instant replay decisions. Awarding more belts allows the alphabet boys to drain more money from the fighters in the form of sanctioning fees. But by embracing more frequent use of instant replay it appears this time they’ve done something right.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More Information Here