By Charles Jay
We know by now that C.J. Ross has resigned as a Nevada boxing judge. But you can’t blame Keith Kizer (executive director of the commission) for having defended her publicly. That’s his job. After the fact, it just isn’t right to take someone out to the woodshed in front of the whole world right away, just as long as there was a review process underway (there was), and an announcement about any necessary actions afterward (apparently there has been). But if it was just a simple matter of being defiant toward the press and public for expressing outrage over something that as clearly a miscarriage of boxing “justice,” then that wasn’t going to do anybody any good.
A lot of people may have bought the notion of Canelo Alvarez as a legitimate threat to Floyd Mayweather, but that doesn’t mean they are out-and-out stupid.
To use the defense of an even card, while still maintaining that Mayweather was the better fighter, on the basis that the rounds Mayweather won were just so much more decisive than the rounds Alvarez won doesn’t make a lot of sense to begin with. But at the very least it makes a strong argument for some other kind of system, perhaps one where there are 20 points that must be used instead of the customary ten. We can detail the virtues and drawbacks to that another time, one supposes.
Kizer, in case you don’t know him, is a very reputable individual, who is in the spotlight a lot more than most of his contemporaries because of the fact that he is, after all, in Las Vegas, presiding over more high-profile fights than anyone else. He doesn’t make more mistakes than other commission directors. In fact, he probably makes a lot less than most. It’s just that you can SEE his mistakes a lot clearer because everybody covers them.
There was a mistake here, and it should have been avoided precisely BECAUSE of the fact that the whole world was going to be watching. He and his colleagues at the Nevada State Athletic Commission really should have been considering the “bigger picture”: when they made their appointment of officials for the main event last Saturday. And yes, all the members participate in it to some extent.
These folks needed to be thinking more about putting boxing in its best light, rather than absent-mindedly inviting controversy in order to just push through one of their favorites In a showcase event, of which there are too few in this sport, you just don’t put your best face on by utilizing the services of someone who scored a fight for Timothy Bradley over Manny Pacquiao.
That decision brought so much uproar it practically forced the Nevada attorney general’s office to go through the pretense of an investigation, just so there wouldn’t be riots (figuratively speaking, of course). Why would a regulatory body want to leave itself vulnerable like that?
And before you mention that Duane Ford, a judge who is generally more respected, also scored Bradley the winner over Pacquiao, it can be suggested with conviction that a 114-114 scorecard from him on Saturday night would have brought the same degree of anger, which would have made it just as much of a mistake to name him one of the ringside officials for the fight.
Politics plays a part in a lot of things – that much is a given – and boxing would be no exception to that. The officials who regulate the sport on a state-by-state basis, not to mention all the other government agencies, are political appointees to begin with. This is something that is largely unavoidable, and more often than not the unsavory effects of such an atmosphere don’t rise to the surface.
But what happens when it is perceived that there is incompetence or corruption is that the political component of this process steps out front and center. People start to ask questions and they rarely get satisfaction answers, which leaves open wounds for a sport that, frankly, didn’t deserve them based on what happened inside the “field of play” on Saturday night. There needed to be an appreciation for that possibility, long before the doors had ever opened at the MGM Grand Garden; in fact, long before tickets had ever gone on sale.
Listen, it could well be the case that C.J. Ross was, on balance, a competent judge. Maybe she wasn’t. She happened to be an outstanding judge in Kizer’s opinion. That’s fine, but sometimes, like it or not, what the commission thinks means less than what the public thinks, because public opinion and perception is one of the drivers behind this sport with regard to those select events the public actually cares about. After all, would this fight have even taken place if not for the confidence that enough would buy it for $64.95 or $74.95 to watch it on television?
Confidence. That’s a key word here. The promoters had to believe that the public had enough confidence in the event, in all its elements from A to Z, that they were going to get a certain degree of value with their purchase. That’s basic consumerism. If one of those components gets infected, the whole thing can become a lingering virus.
There are a lot of customers who complain that these PPV shows are top heavy; that they don’t offer a lot of depth in quality or significance. And with the huge guarantees paid, it often happens that way. But this time around, the promotion offered a pivotal fight – and a good matchup – between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse, as a support to the main event.
They certainly put their best foot forward in that respect. The Nevada commission should have taken enough care to do the same.