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Home judging ill-advised


PhilBoxing.com



WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman.

The WBC is seriously considering remote or home judging as a new protocol for fights with the pandemic still not under control. Once the situation is back to normal, the idea is to bring back judges sitting on three sides of the ring. Until then, the WBC plans to use “online” judges to score a fight from home or some remote place outside of the fight venue as a health precaution.

Aside from judges, the WBC intends to ban spectators and media from watching its sanctioned fights live. “As the WBC, we consider in a very serious and responsible way the feasibility of carrying out boxing functions behind closed doors and with TV transmission adhering to strict sanitary control and following the guidelines established by world health organizations and the guidelines of local authorities,” said the governing body in a memorandum.

The process flow for remote judging lists this sequence: First, judges access live video/audio of the fight; second, judges and supervisor log into secure WBC portal; third, judges score rounds in real-time; fourth, scores are fed to a consolidated report; fifth, supervisor transposes electronic scores to hard-copy master scoresheet; and sixth, commission and supervisor finalize results and hand to ring announcer. In the WBC’s flow chart, there is a provision for a contingency plan----“if internet connection fails, supervisor and judge will communicate via text or call between rounds to report/confirm the round scores.”

WBC president Jose Sulaiman said the proposal was made in consultation with doctors and boxing administrators, none of whom he identified. Writer Lance Pugmire said the proposal was met “with consternation throughout the sport.” Veteran boxing promoter Lou DiBella had this reaction: “We have a hard enough time judging fights normally with three (judges) sitting ringside so we’re going to do it remotely and be confident in the results? If you destroy your product in an effort to get going, what do you do to your product’s value going forward?”

The WBC justified its proposal by arguing from the viewpoint of limiting attendance in a fight venue to “essential” individuals such as the fighters, cornermen, TV staff, commission and medical personnel and sanctioning body officials. But aren’t judges “essential?” How many judges are mobilized for a boxing promotion of six to eight fights? Five? Maybe, six to rotate? Surely, the WBC can accommodate five or six more persons in its attendance sheet.

A boxing expert said the WBC will not be able to impose “online” judging in Nevada or California state athletic commissions which are autonomous in assigning judges for boxing. “It’s stupid,” the expert said. “Judges have no chance to catch COVID-19 with all the safety measures in place. There is more chance of catching the virus at Walmart where idiots are walking around with no masks, touching everything with no gloves or sanitizers. California and Nevada do it their way or the highway.”

Remote judging is ill-advised because the judges will rely on the same video, watching the same angle and restricting what otherwise they could observe from three vantage points around the ring. Home judges won’t be able to focus on things that ringside judges could, like following the progress of a cut or swelling or the mode of attack from an individual viewpoint because their perspective is limited. Online judges may be briefed via a video conference call before or after a fight as necessary but they will be detached from the live setting which could be a disadvantage. Home judges may also be exposed to external circumstances, such as hacking or influencing, not under the commission’s control because of their remote location. If the WBC’s intention is to protect the judges’ safety by isolating them from unnecessary public exposure, it should realize the risk of infection is almost nothing compared to the high risk of jeopardizing the quality of scoring a fight from home.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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