If The Judges And Computer Erred, Who Could Have Scored It Right?
By Manny Piñol
15 Nov 2011
Determining the winner in a boxing bout is not like selecting the new American Idol or choosing the New Seven Wonders of the World where the volume of votes texted in from all over the world is used as the basis in declaring the winner.
Modern boxing employs three people who are given the best seats at ringside and an unhampered view of the action inside the ring. They are tasked to score the fight on a round by round basis using the 10-Point Must Scoring System accepted by all boxing sanctioning bodies.
It cannot be denied that since the three judges are only human, their scoring could be subjective and they could be swayed by the noise of the crowd, especially if the fight is held in the hometown of one of the boxers.
Boxing is replete with stories of corrupt judges who were influenced by the promoters or bribed and came up with decisions contrary to the general public perception of the outcome of the fight.
But not all boxing judges are corrupt. Many of these judges are professionals whose involvement with the sport is all because of their love for boxing.
There are safety measures to ensure that boxing judges do not abuse their authority to choose the winner of the bouts. There is the fight supervisor representing the boxing commission. Erring judges are sanctioned with either suspension or complete banishment from the sport by the commission on the recommendation of the fight supervisor.
Lately, boxing has employed the computer to document the action, keeping track of the punches thrown and punches connected.
While the statistics generated by the computer, conveniently called Compubox, do not have any bearing on the judging and outcome of the fight, the system has proven to be very effective in affirming or contradicting the scoring of the three judges.
When there is a discrepancy between the statistics provided by the Compubox and the scoring of the three judges, it is easy to conclude that the judging is irregular and controversial.
With this premise, is there enough reason to label Manny Pacquiao's win over Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez as controversial and questionable?
The three judges at ringside scored the 12-round epic third battle between Pacquiao and Marquez slightly differently.
Robert Hoyle scored it 114-114, Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 while Glenn Trowbridge had it heavily in Pacquiao's favor 116-112.
The discrepancy in the scoring of the three judges could be attributed to the fact that they were all seated in three different areas at ringside. What Hoyle saw may not have been seen by Moretti and what Trowbridge witnessed may not have been noticed by the two other judges because of the different vantage points.
If there is anything that the scores of the three judges indicated, it was that the fight was close.
Was the decision to award the fight to Manny Pacquiao after 12 gruelling rounds justified or questionable? Were the judges bought, influenced or coerced?
This is the time when the statistics generated by Compubox could be put to good use.
American sportswriter Gareth A. Davies reported in his column these figures generated by the Compubox which documented the Pacquiao-Marquez III:
1. Punches thrown: Pacquiao - 578; Marquez - 436; Punches connected: Pacquiao - 176; Marquez-138. Pacquiao edged Marquez in this department by 36 punches.
2. Jabs: Pacquiao - 304; Marquez - 182; Jabs connected: Pacquiao - 58; Marquez - 38; Pacquiao edged Marquez in this department by 20 jabs.
3. Power punches thrown: Pacquiao - 274; Marquez - 254; Power punches connected: Pacquiao - 117; Marquez - 100. Again, Pacquiao edged Marquez in this area by 17 power punches.
Looking at these Compubox figures, it is again easy to conclude that the fight was very tight.
But two of the judges saw it as a fight won by Manny Pacquiao and the Compubox statistics do not refute this. In fact, Compubox statistics confirmed that Pacquiao edged Marquez in the entirety of the fight.
It is funny and amusing, however, that some of our fellow sports analysts and sportswriter friends, insist that the judges were wrong and the Compubox is unreliable.
If the judges erred and the Computer is unreliable, who else could give us the correct scores and the right decision?
Unlike basketball where if at the end of the game the scores are 112-111, nobody is expected to complain, scoring in judging involves the subjective perception of three human beings who are designated as judges.
Decisions will always be questioned but that is the way it is in boxing. That is unless the rules are changed by the world boxing sanctioning bodies and boxing adopts the scoring system of the "American Idol" where everybody's subjective vote will be counted, tallied and thereafter used to declare the winner.
The problem with that though is that it will take sometime before we will know who the winner is. Manny Pacquiao's deep cut in his right eyebrow would have already healed before his hands are raised in victory.
This is how boxing is scored, this is the rule and this is how the game is played and decided.
If some people think this is wrong and are not comfortable with this, they could always play basketball.
Photo: Manny Pacquiao (R) hits Juan Manuel Marquez with a left during their bout last Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Photo by Dr Ed de la Vega.
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