Scar Tissue Part 11: Felonies in disguise
By Jess E. Trail (May 27, 2005) 
Much time is spent on the large, horrific offenses in boxing -- Corruption, fixes, extortion, mafia ties and so on. This segment is not about any of the blatant, the obvious or palpably evil of the game. This is about evil with a yellow bonnet. This is about boxing purists and the crimes that we perpetrate.

Crime #1 – Criminal Scoring

Often you will hear a fellow boxing purist make the assertion that a champion must be clearly beaten. The challenger cannot fight cautiously. He must be aggressive, assertive. He must leave no doubt about the decision. There are some who are simply aiming their instructive wisdom to the challenger himself. Great. But there are many who are actually and seriously applying their instructions to the scoring of the bout itself. This is an incredible and skewed approach that actually suggests awarding literal rounds to a champion when the challenger should have won the round, however narrowly. Am I the only one who believes that a challenger can beat the champion even by the slimmest of margins?

There are those who believe that the fighter who closes the fight the strongest should win. One case in point is Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad. Oscar owned Trinidad the first ¾ of the fight and then fought horribly wrong the last three rounds. It’s fine to coast through the final round of a fight that you have won to avoid foolish risk. Coasting through the last three rounds is preposterous. However, it shouldn’t cost you the decision. I had Oscar winning a very close decision that would’ve been a wide margin had he thrown punches in the last three rounds. The majority of the fight, Oscar looked like he was clearly the better man. Tell me you believe that Tito legitimately defeated Oscar and its cool. Tell me that you believe that Oscar lost solely because of the way he fought the last three rounds and that you agree with that, and you are basically telling me that you are okay with judges changing their scorecards. This approach basically welcomes the shady dirty dealings that occasionally seems to color the entire sport evil. The fighter with the most points at the end wins the fight – period.

A point that must be made is the humanity of the judges. There are certain human elements that will always be a part of the sport. The concepts that arise from this have to be considered by the fighter and his trainer during the course of the fight. Some of them are:

1: Judges sometimes “score the blood.”
o A fighter who is cut has to realize this. He may be scoring more effectively but if he is bleeding, judges’ minds can play tricks on them.
2: Fighters can “steal the round” at the end.

o It is human nature to possibly judge more heavily the last thing you witnessed. After all, isn’t that the fighter who has taken charge and stolen also the momentum of the fight? It is not fair in the end, but it is possible.

3: Watch the hair
o I have personally been amazed at fighters who come in with hair that is long or big (in the case of thick hair or afros). If your hair is flying or waving when you’re hit, it simply makes your opponent’s punch look more effective. There is also more sweat trapped in the hair and this creates a dramatic spray effect.

There is another final point about scoring that is a real pet peeve of mine that fans utilize frighteningly often. It is an incredible comment that fighters make, and too many fans parrot. Have you heard any of the following?

“I took everything he had.”

“I should have won the decision. I would have knocked him out but I never hit him with a clean shot.”

Crime #2

Crime number two doesn’t have an official name. It is an offense that purists should never make, but we do. It is to minimize a fighter based on distaste or preference. One case in point is Roy Jones. Roy Jones talked a lot. He rapped a lot. He had rappers accompany him on his ring-walk. One thing that Roy Jones didn’t exhibit and very few (any?) rappers appear to possess is humility. For instance, I’ve never heard these lyrics…

My name is Stan and I don’t fight too good;
I get my ass kicked when I set foot in the hood;
I can’t get a date with the ladies at all;
They heard about my bedwetting and won’t answer my calls.

That being said, Roy Jones is one of the most phenomenal boxing machines I have ever seen in the ring. I always had to see his fights. His incredible display of almost super-human reflexes was on a level that is a rarity. Though I didn’t care for his attitude at times, I was still absolutely thrilled to see him fight – I mean preflight butterflies, gooseflesh on the arms, you name it. This was a unique talent that simply isn’t seen, and I didn’t want to miss a second of it, particularly as he began to age.

I believe it is a shame (if not an absolute felony) that there are those who point to his last two bouts as some sort of proof that he was overrated. It should be clear that at his age, his body could not take the rapid drop back down to the light-heavyweight division after the Ruiz fight. It should also be clear that there was something missing, perhaps permanently, after what was possibly the most impressive performance of his career in taking the heavyweight crown with ease. The ensuing war with Tarver took what remained from the tank. His whole ring presence had been about incredible reflexes and a perfect physical command of the ring. He wasn’t the same. To claim otherwise would be on the same level as claiming that Leonard’s performances against Terry Norris and Hector Camacho proved that he was a fraud, or that Ali’s performances against Holmes and Berbick proved something.

Love him or hate him, Roy Jones proved himself during his career. While perceived arrogance during his prime prevents an enormous amount of sympathy, it is absolutely criminal to deny his ability, accomplishments and greatness.

These are some of the most serious crimes that are committed by true blue boxing fans. They are almost imperceptible, because the perps are the pillars of the fight fan community. But they are horrific crimes, nonetheless. I’m watching myself for these mistakes and have authorized my wife to hit me with a series of hard rabbit punches should I repeat them.

Also See: Scar Tissue Part 1: Louis vs. Ali
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 2: Holmes vs. Frazier
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 3: Liston vs. Foreman
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 4: Imposters unmasked
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 5: Going after Goliath
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 6: Marciano vs. Holyfield
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 7: Brutality borrowed
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 8: A hook for the books (Weaver vs. Tate)
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 9: De La Hoya vs Duran
Also See: Scar Tissue Part 10: The Minister of Defense (Wilfred Benitez)
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