by Charles Jay
C.J. Ross resigned her position as a judge with the Nevada Athletic Commission after 22 years. She had been called “corrupt” and “crooked” by the likes of Teddy Atlas, and that may indeed turn out to be the case, although if he had any substantial basis for saying it, he hasn’t really let anybody in on it.
Photo: USA Today
Was she incompetent? Well, her 114-114 score in the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight, along with a previous absurdity in her scoring of the Timothy Bradley-Manny Pacquiao fight, may suggest a pattern of incompetence, especially when you consider that there were many other instances where she was quite far apart from her two colleagues at ringside (for the record, that wasn’t the case with Bradley-Pacquiao, where Duane Ford also scored for Bradley).
Surely, as someone who was not at some of the other fights she’s scored, this reporter would have no way of knowing whether she was perhaps the smartest person in the room on some of those occasions. But it is doubtful.
We can argue about her incompetence all day long, and whether or not we’ll see it again from her someday. But the real incompetence in this case may be on the part of Mayweather himself.
Yes, that indeed comes off like a funny thing to say about someone who put together such a masterful display as he did last Saturday night. But such a great effort, against the guy who had been hailed by many as the Next Big Thing could have been spoiled if there were even two C.J. Rosses on hand. That means no more perfect record, reduced cachet, less of a “legacy” (to use the oft-beaten term) and a REAL backlash on the part of boxing fans, all over the world.
Whether you are aware of this or not, fighters and their camps have the capacity to protest the appointment of ringside officials for their bouts. If they have a problem with a particular judge, it doesn’t necessarily work like a courtroom, where one would have peremptory challenges of potential jury members. But certainly it wouldn’t have taken a Harvard lawyer to make a case against the inclusion of C.J. Ross.
Or would it? We’ll get to that in a second.
Any reasonable boxing commission would respect a reasonable protest on the part of someone’s camp, especially a camp with a little leverage, unless that commission was engaged in some kind of power play. If anyone had some leverage here, it was the guy who has, time and again, brought in a considerable amount of money into state coffers, not to mention business to the Las Vegas economy.
In other words, if Mayweather would had balked with enough conviction, C.J. Ross wouldn’t have been seen around that ring on Saturday night.
Surely he had the basis to do it. After all, if a judge was going to get it wrong, it stands to reason that it was going to be for Floyd’s opponent; at least that’s what HE’D have felt the likelihood would be.
If you had every expectation of dominating an opponent like Canelo Alvarez most of the way – as he probably did – and you saw that one of the judges appointed for the fight snatched victory away from Manny Pacquiao in what was clearly a fight where he had a distinct edge, wouldn’t you think you had the basis for a protest?
And to add another dimension to it, this was a measurably inferior opponent who had a level of popularity much greater than Bradley has ever had.
If you were representing Mayweather, you’d be duty-bound to take a long look and initiate action, simply to protect your fighter’s interests. And if you were Mayweather, you would have insisted upon it. But none of this ever got done.
And so there was C.J. Ross and her dead-even scorecard, present and accounted for.
So who represents Mayweather?
Well, when it has come to some of the discussions about prospective fights, and specifically the fight with Manny Pacquiao that never took place, Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions has purported to be doing that for Mayweather, under the delusion most “promoters” have that they are also de facto managers, although of course, we know that isn’t the case here, since Schaefer’s organization does not have a promotional contract with Floyd.
In fact, we HOPE that Schaefer didn’t think he was in that position here, since as you know, he had the opponent (Alvarez) in this fight. In a comic moment in the wake of the decision, Schaefer was quoted in the USA Today as saying, “How that judge could be appointed after the decision of Bradley and Pacquiao is not a question I can answer…….How can that happen? Is it going to happen again?”
Well, it is fine to say something like that when there is one renegade judge and everyone knows it’s ridiculous. Really, how many times have you heard a fighter who just had a draw on one scorecard talk unabashedly in the post-fight interview about how much better the other guy was?
If Schaefer was so concerned about that not happening again, why would he have let it happen in the first place? As someone who holds himself out to represent the interests of a fighter he has under contract (Alvarez), he could have spoken up in protest as well, either directly or through somebody else, even if it was only to protect the interests of boxing and the event he was involved with. He didn’t do a thing, as far as we can tell.
One other thing – you can bet your bottom dollar that if all three judges had made it a draw, you wouldn’t have heard a peep out of Richard Schaefer about how bad the scoring was. He would have been delighted with the result and wouldn’t have apologized to anybody.
Leonard Ellerbe has a position as “CEO” of Mayweather Promotions, although one suspects that this would be roughly akin to Allan Glick’s position as president of the Stardust Hotel & Casino is the late 1970s (refer to the movie “Casino” if you’re not in tune with that one). Seriously, you’d be hard-pressed to hear from anyone that Ellerbe, who by all accounts is an affable fellow, is anything more than an order-taker. He’s not a likely candidate to have taken the initiative to catch the commission’s appointment of Ross and throw it back at them.
That leaves us with Al Haymon, who is an “advisor,” a term we put into quotes because there really isn’t an official title for him. He’s just there. But at the same time, he is an omnipotent presence. And yes, he IS the Harvard lawyer in this crew. Haymon is widely praised by allies and despised by enemies, but nobody will ever accuse him of being asleep at the wheel.
He knows all about the process of protesting about judges, because he was part of the Vernon Forrest team when they changed a judge for the July 2002 rematch with Shane Mosley, suspiciously inserting Tony Castellano, a semi-retired Las Vegan who hadn’t done anything significant in years, with the cooperation of the Indiana Athletic Commission, all without the knowledge of Mosley or the people who represented him (including the massive IMG agency). It became part of a controversy that eventually involved Sen. John McCain.
The problem with someone like Haymon is that when you talk with genuine industry sources, you are told that he is the person who is, in fact, calling the shots at Golden Boy.
That’s not the kind of thing that is going to be written on the company letterhead; it’s not something that is going to be widely reported. And Haymon, who has become notorious for secrecy, is not going to say anything about it. There is nothing official, of course. When it comes to Haymon, hardly ANYTHING is official. But unofficially, it looks like there is at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.
And if that is true, we then ask the question again – who really represents Floyd Mayweather’s interests in situations like this?
In the end, it’s got to be Mayweather himself. After all, he’s the guy who’s got the spotless record, with every intention of keeping it that way.