An Explanation for All These Controversial Scorecards
By: Ben Sutherland
Adalaide Byrd’s recent 118-110 scorecard at the Canelo v Golovkin fight was seemingly outrageous. It left many out there, including myself, pondering the legitimacy of the whole thing. More fuel was added to the fire at last weekend’s heavyweight title fight between Joseph Parker and Hughie Fury who were contesting the WBO world title. In what was a close fight which could have gone either way, Fury probably didn’t do quite enough to definitively dethrone Parker. However, as the scorecards were read out, another 118-110 card appeared in favor of Parker. Fury and his team were livid and spent the rest of the night speculating about corruption in the sport to any media outlet that would listen.
Photo Credit: USA Today
Thanks to fights like these, boxing fans have recently been become increasingly disillusioned and disenfranchised with a sport that seems to often be predetermined. However, what if there was a more innocent explanation?
Boxing is subjective. Some judges prefer better technical work and boxing ability whereas many other judges will look for work rate and punches thrown. In this way, it is possible for two separate judges to view a close in favor of a different fighter. On the assumption there are no knockdowns each round would be scored 10-9 to whichever fighter each judge selected.
Boxing scores do not leave space to account for how close each individual round was. In one round, a boxer can be punched around the ring, take heavy body shots, big uppercuts and spend the entire 3 minutes tucked up or staggering around the ring but provided they don’t hit the canvas, the round is 10-9. In another round, the contest could be incredibly close with both fighters throwing similar numbers of shots, landing similar numbers of shots and evading similar numbers of shots. However at the end of it, one fighter still wins the round 10-9. There is obviously a massive difference in these two rounds but this is just simply not reflected on the scorecards.
Let’s take this a step further. For this hypothetical I will use Parker and Fury as my fighters. In this hypothetical scenario, one judge marginally prefers technical boxing ability and the other has a slight inclination towards work rate. The first round could be ridiculously close and the two judges in question could give the round to a different fighter. So after round one, one scorecard has Parker up 10-9 and on another Fury is up 10-9. If the second round is also very close, there is no logical reason why the judge would give the round to the other fighter this time. Perhaps he could worry that his scorecard might not reflect how close the fight is and give the round to the other fighter for this reason. However, it would be professionally dishonest for the judge to give the round to the other fighter simply because he was fearful of controversy. If the fight carries on playing out in this close fashion, the judge would carry on giving the rounds to the fighter he prefers by a miniscule margin. If we extrapolate this over the course of 12 rounds, it is therefore possible for our unbelievably close fight to be scored 120-108 to Parker by one judge and 120-108 to Fury by the other judge.
Any assumption that a close fight should be scored 114-114 is simply illogical. This type of thinking reflects the flawed logic in what is known as the gamblers fallacy. This is the idea that because you flip a coin once and it lands on heads, it is more likely to land on tails the next time. In reality, the chance of landing a tail the next throw is identical to the first throw – 1 in 2. The parameters of each throw have not changed and the fact that the coin landed on heads the first time does not change the coin in any way and so it is no more likely to land on tails the next time.
This same logic applies to boxing. Just because Parker scraped the first round by the skin of his teeth does not mean that if the next round is really close that it should be given to Fury.
Perhaps then, both the Canelo v GGG and Parker v Fury scorecards were symptomatic of a close fight. It just seems very difficult to reflect that in the scoring system. Whilst a 10-10 round is a possibility, it is used infrequently both official scorecards and TV scorecards. Perhaps it is time to get a bit more trigger happy with it?
The “Byrd’s” A Good Example Of How Officials Can Ruin an Event
By: Ken Hissner
Have you ever watched a major show and they go to the score cards and you think “what fight were they watching?” A judge and referee can make a big difference in an event.
The first Kovalev-Ward bout with Kovalev the defending champion was a good example how a referee can influence a fight. Ward initiated 46 clinches in their 12 round fight without having a point taken away from him by referee Robert Byrd who has to be the slowest referee to react in the game today.
Byrd’s wife Adalaide a boxing judge in Nevada made news voting for Saul Canelo Alvarez 118-110 over WBA, WBC, IBF, IBO middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin who chased Alvarez for all 12 rounds on September 16th. Byrd has been a boxing judge for some 30 years and should have had the fight much closer than what she did have it. Due to the many complaints from boxing people it’s understood she will be getting some “vacation time!” This writer had it 116-112 for Golovkin.
This writer feels Alvarez has not earned a rematch and should fight Danny Jacobs who gave Golovkin his hardest fight even if Jacobs may have outweighed him by 15 pounds or more. We don’t know since he refused to go to the day of the fight weigh-in. If Golovkin gained ten pounds in 24 hours Jacobs could have gained at least ten pounds more than that.
Golovkin should schedule his next fight as if he was given the decision he deserved and fight the WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders with all the titles on the line. Jacobs is scheduled to make his next appearance in November. The bout with Golovkin must have taken its toll on him to be off some eight months.
Nevada has become a joke for approving the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Conor McGregor bout with Mayweather 49-0 and McGregor 0-0. Roy Jones, Jr. did something similar in AZ fighting someone who had 6 amateur bouts and no professional fights. There should be “no exception” for these mismatches to be approved by these states just to “make money” from them.
New Jersey Boxing Commissioner and Hall of Fame referee Larry Hazzard, Sr., had the following to say: Unfortunately Boxing Judges and Referees can’t afford to have a bad night because most boxers only get one chance at that great moment of winning a world championship and/or captivating a great moment. I don’t buy into this corruption theory that’s espoused by some people but, I do sincerely believe that we don’t buy into this corruption theory that’s espoused by some people but, I do sincerely believe that we boxing administrators have a responsibility to make the necessary changes in the sport of boxing that will hopefully improve and enhance judging methodology.
We just can’t keep using the same judges and referees over and over for the major high profile bouts when there is a multitude of other officials who rarely get opportunities to display their abilities. We need to also, do an in-depth examination of the present scoring system and encourage judges to be more liberal with the numbers to paint a clearer picture of what is taking place round by round. A close round and a not close round, even when a knock down does not occur, is not deserving of the same 10-9 score. The New Jersey Commission has never been afraid to make changes for the betterment of the sport of boxing despite initial criticism. The replacement of the mouth piece and the wearing of rubber gloves by the referee and corner men were initiated here in NJ and criticized when initiated. Now both are standard practices around the boxing world.
Instant replay is another innovation which originated here in NJ.
We intend to explore a judging innovation very soon because if you keep doing things the same way, you will only get the same results.
For My Opinion of Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez Decision, Read Between the Lines – I Don’t Want to Be Sued by Judge Adelaide Byrd
By Ivan G. Goldman
What can we say about judge Adelaide Byrd, who scored only two rounds for Gennady Golovkin even though most folks agree he won more rounds than Canelo Alvarez?
I must phrase this carefully because you can call public figures incompetent and they have no grounds for a lawsuit. But if you call then corrupt and you can’t show evidence, they might come after you in court. And I don’t happen to have any videotape of favors changing hands. But I do have that fight recorded on my DVR.
Don Trella scored it 114-114 and Dave Moretti had the most intelligent score of all, which, coincidentally, was identical to mine, 115-113 Triple G. And then there was Adelaide. I can’t bear to type her score. Look it up somewhere else, thanks. Anyway, the fight was ruled a draw.
As for Adelaide, LBJ had a saying that covered these situations. “Never,” he said, “get in a pissing match with a skunk.” And some boxing judges make skunks smell like daffodils.
So there you have it. Triple G-Canelo was a great middleweight fight marred by one of those “controversial” decisions. It’s a word boxing media folks call upon that covers both ineptitude and corruption, and we have plenty of both in boxing.
Much of the corruption is actually within the rules. State commissions ostensibly choose judges, but following vague regulations, they consult with the promoters. Sometimes promoters make up the list and commissions do nothing more than rubber stamp them.
The promoters pay the salaries of the judges, which they earn on a fight-by-fight basis. Promoters also pay expenses – flights, meals, hotel rooms, room service, etc., etc. The rules in this regard are big enough for a cargo container to slip through. Expenses can include an envelope stuffed with cash. Really. I know of a California judge who demanded promoters order and pay for his hookers. Another judge ratted him out, but so what? The commission took no action.
Many judges are inclined to please certain promoters in hopes they’ll be remembered as friendly for future fight cards. Judges can be ranked from blatantly corrupt to a little corrupt (which is a lot like being a little pregnant) all the way over to aggressively honest, like Pat Russell, for example. He’s a former Army infantry officer who served in Vietnam and was a distinguished San Diego detective before he retired. If you offered him a bribe I have no doubt he’d dial 911.
The bigger the fight, the more the officials earn. It can come to many thousands of dollars for a big PPV fight. The referee will ordinarily earn more than the ringside judges. You see those referees who wear WBC, WBA, etc, on their shirts? They’re all jostling for those designations. The corrupt alphabet gangs take “contributions” from promoters and also have a say in choosing officials.
Some officials haven’t made much headway in their day jobs or have no day jobs at all yet figured out how to get officials’ licenses. You may wonder why people who share the same last names are often boxing officials. It’s not easy to make the roster, but certain families seem to have no trouble at all, but their familial ties are, of course are as much a coincidence as the succession of Assads in Syria or the Kims in North Korea.
Perhaps you noticed that Robert Byrd, Adelaide’s husband, refereed a fight on the same card.
You want to try something? Go down to your local commission and try to apply to be an official. If you have no juice it’ll give the commissioners’ flunkies a good laugh. Even if you get a license, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get any assignments.
I’m told that Adelaide has been a judge for about 20 years. She’s judged 22 fights so far this year. Judges like Adelaide Byrd are very much in demand.
You’ll often hear folks call for their suspension after a particularly grievous job like the one she pulled off Saturday night in Las Vegas. And sometimes they actually do get suspended. A little time off and they’re slipped back into the lineup. And they always come back. They’re a valuable asset to the promoters who hold their noses as they choose, select, and pay them.
Maybe you’re tired of reading about crummy officiating. I know I’m tired of writing about it. Forgive me. This time I saw no other choice.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class (Permanent Press, 2015) is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.