THE BLOG

Time to Show Boxing as Sport, Not Pantomime

16/09/2013 16:05 BST | Updated 13/11/2013 10:12 GMT

It isn't ever surprising to hear of a 'dodgy' decision made by Boxing judges; it's been imbedded in the sport since the test of time, and last Saturday night's performance by the USA's Carlos Ortiz Jr. to deny Raymondo Beltran a deserved WBO World Lightweight title is the latest controversy caused by Boxing's archaic scoring system.

Ortiz scored the fight between Scotland's Ricky Burns and Beltran 115-112 for Burns despite the Belgian judge scoring it 115-113 in Beltran's favour and the British judge, being pretty one eyed himself, scoring the bout as a draw, at 114-114.

"Politics, always the same thing in boxing," said Beltran, after the fight. "There is money involved, it's business, every time they have a chance to protect their investment they do it."

"They play with the business, they have the power. If I got beat I got beat, I've been getting robbed every time. It is just so frustrating, there is so much sacrifice. We put ourselves on the line. But it is business."

We have seen suspect decisions throughout history, from Joe Louis' controversial win over Jersey Joe Walcott, where Louis even apologised to his opponent after the fight, to Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield; from Pernell Whittaker vs. Oscar De La Hoya to Saturday night in Glasgow. And perhaps the most controversial decision of all time, Roy Jones Jnr robbed of a Gold Medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which actually caused the change to computerized scoring in Olympic competition.

Blatant, bad Boxing decisions hinder the sport's already suspect reputation and it begs the question (to which there is an obvious answer, but anyway): why not score professional fights publicly round-by-round? It works perfectly well in Olympic boxing!

Boxing is the only sport where the score is unknown by all except the judges (and some conspracists may suggest, the promoters). Punters have their own subjective perception of what they have paid to come and see; TV viewers also, but they aren't privvy to the score until they're announced. Even the referee has no clue as to the score during a fight, never mind the boxers themselves!

Amateur boxing is compelling, not only because of the purity of the sport but due to the fighters, as well as spectators, being fully aware (unless they've been dropped by a left hook) of the score and therefore knowing what is required to get back in the match. Having been lucky enough to be at a packed out Excel Centre during London 2012 to watch Britain's finest go for gold, I can say that knowing the score and watching a boxer comeback in the final round is sport at its finest; so why is it not good enough for the Pro game?

Despite Olympic boxing now moving away from the punch-pointing system to the 10 point system seen in Professional boxing, being made aware of the score after each round will still be in place.

In the modern sporting era of goal-line technology, Instant Review Systems in Cricket and Tennis and video replays in a multitude of other sports, namely NFL, Rugby and Hockey, it is ridiculous that the judging system in professional Boxing not only remains in existence but continues to cause controversy and shatter well deserved Boxing dreams.

Let's make this clear: I'm not naive to believe public scoring in Professional Boxing will ever happen. After all, Boxing is more 'show business' than 'sport'. And a multi-billion dollar one at that! But for the good of the sport, surely it's time to put an end to the mystery, suspense and controversy of the Judges' Scorecards? Boxing is the most attritional, sacrificial and testing of sports and it's high time to prove that it most certainly isn't a pantomime - it simply isn't fair to the men and women of the sport, including the judges.