I know I may be one of only about six people in the entire world who still care about boxing, but indulge me for a moment please.
Saturday night I’m watching Juan Diaz and Anthony Katsidis fight for one of the meaningless lightweight titles. Fellow blogger and fight fan Aaron Wherry emailed me that evening to ask if I thought it’d be a good scrap. I thought it would. So I set myself up with a beverage and some snacks and was very, very happy indeed.
Alas, after seven rounds it was clear that Diaz was outclassing him. He was connecting at twice the rate, and generally dismantling Katsidis, feeding him a steady diet of head-snapping jabs and battering combinations. Diaz lacks knockout power, but he throws very accurate punches at a very high rate, and really smothers his opponents. I watched him batter Canadian scrapper Billy Irwin into retirement a few years ago, and I wrote about it here. Anyhoo, I went to bed and set the PVR. I watched the rest of the fight in the morning and was stunned (Stunned!) by veteran judge Glen Hamada scoring the fight for Katsidis.
SI’s Chris Mannix writes about Hamada’s travesty here. Fortunately the other two judges scored it for Diaz and he won a split decision. But really…Boxing is circling the bowl, and this is a huge part of the reason why. Shady promoters, putting together ridiculous fights, and judges who seem to lack the most basic requirement for the job: judgement. It was the same pathetic, boring, maddening story at the Olympics
I’ve thought a lot about how to fix this, and the only thing I can come up with it this: All title fights are fights to the death. You can wear headgear and have computerized scoring on the way up, but as soon as a belt is on the line, only one guy gets to leave the ring. Talk about Old School! These guys are always saying what warriors they are… gladiators…blah blah blah. Time to see if they’re serious. If I wanted civilization I’d watch MMA.
All kidding aside – I don’t think this is a problem that can ever really be fixed. Boxing has been plagued by bad, corrupt or incompetent judging and refereeing ever since the beginning. Computerized scoring isn’t any better. The only thing you can do is make sure judges that do such a terrible job don’t get hired again. But boxing is such a sleaze-filled world, even that will never happen.