Can Boxing's Scoring System be Improved?
Challenging Boxing Myths - Part Five
By Jim Cawkwell (August 4, 2004) 
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Can boxing’s scoring system be improved?

Two great champions meet to decide a coveted prize in the most lavish of surroundings.

Their long and illustrious careers, each laden with distinction, have led them to this final confrontation. An occasion of unprecedented importance in their lives and one that is almost certain to stand in boxing’s pantheon of greatness.
Before a worldwide audience, they fight to a deafening crescendo. A classic battle with frequent momentum shifts as they employ every ounce of speed, strength and tactical acumen they can muster. As the end approaches, it becomes abundantly clear that one of them has achieved a monumental victory. Exhausted but glowing in the knowledge of his victory, he consoles his despondent rival. Numerous eyewitnesses offer further affirmation as the television audience and thousands of onlookers live at the event anticipate the official announcement.

When the failing of boxing’s judicial system undermines such an event, many people begin to use the term 'fix'. That is to suggest a conspiracy between individuals of such maliciously pre-mediated proportions to deny victory to a particular fighter, possibly to ensure a significant future financial payoff. The chain reaction of the 'fix' concept leads irresistibly to the influence by said individuals over one or more of the judging panel, with financial persuasion commonly perceived as the method of choice.

'But these are experienced judges, appointed by the sanctioning bodies.' I hear you say.

Well in that case, surely they value the preservation of their reputations and those of their respective associations over some short-term monetary gain. Incidentally, these are the same organizations which have previously been exposed and criminally indicted for activities such as illegally receiving monies in exchange for the convenient rearrangement of their ratings system to suit certain promoters.

I offer nameless examples, but make no mistake; many wrongs have already transpired and the suspicion of other such occurrences is very strong. If such an 'influence' over a fight can achieve such an end as perhaps keeping a major marquee star and the money he generates in the game, a significant number of parties could stand to benefit.

And while I would both love and loathe the exposure of a 'sinister paper trail,' leading accusingly to definite culprits, until then we can only examine the hard evidence of glaring discrepancies, inconsistency and incompetence given to us on a frequent basis.

Other sports have introduced technical gadgetry to aid certain decision-making problems during contests. Aside from video playback, which is in itself inadmissible as a means of justifying an action of recourse, all boxing has to refer to is the CompuBox punch statistic system, one that is also subject to human error. Therefore, an event is externally officiated by two methods, with only one guaranteed official merit.

One is administered by a statistician who is charged with clinically collating the technical information of punches landed. The other a judge, whom we can assume that in a round that does not yield any decisive advantage to either fighter, has the freedom to interpret its nature.

For example, judges are afforded a certain subjectivity, which they have no hesitation in exercising. This rather strange element to introduce to such a paramount part of fights proceedings also appears to be dictated by territory.
All too often, we hear of how American judges will favor aggression, as if the boxing establishment not only accepts but also readily expects this bias to play an integral role in the scoring of a fight. The aggression preference is apparently justified with the notion that the supposed aggressor is attempting to 'force the fight'.

Attempting to force the fight is not in itself actually winning the fight, intent to apply pressure is not necessarily pressure applied.

Upon viewing archival footage of the Holmes-Cooney heavyweight title fight, it was interesting to note the round by round analysis offered by judges Dave Moretti, Jerry Roth and Duane Ford, all highly recognizable officiating figures.
A particular highlight was the interpretational division of certain rounds, for example; after a one specific round, each judge offered their score and justification for it.

One judge scored the round for Holmes on the basis that he landed two strong right hands, and yet another scored the round for Cooney because he was the busier fighter throughout the round. One thing is clearly discernable from this example; what constitutes a winning round scored for a fighter is something that is not clear or consistent between even the most highly regarded members of boxing’s judicial fraternity.

A common excuse for discrepancies between the scoring of a round between judges is that a judge was merely seated in a position that obscured his view of the action. If this argument holds merit, surely the event site and governing body officials should ensure that such instances do not occur. If these people can play a part in taking tens of thousands of dollars from the public to view a contest, why can they not adequately seat three judges whose role in that contest is so important? Is it not their responsibility to boxing to do so?

These are but a few of so many issues that I feel need to be addressed if our sport is going to begin to reclaim some of its lost credibility.

Therefore, I ask you the following questions:

Even if the aggressor in a fight is significantly stronger and succeeds in inflicting damage to his opponent through lesser blows connected, yet he is still considerably out-landed, can we justify him as the winner?

Are you in favor of the introduction of technical elements to assist the scoring and officiating process?

Should the CompuBox system be afforded a greater role in the final analysis of a fight?

Is there any hope for boxing matches to be fairly adjudicated while they are at the mercy of a system that accepts free interpretation and personal preference?

Do you have any ideas that might improve the way a fight is scored?

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