This past weekend, I attended a boxing event in the Twin Cities, and all I can say about the experience is that it confirmed more of my beliefs that boxing is going by the wayside as a result of its judging.
As a combat sports fan who enjoys the skill, technique, and heart required of athletes of all levels, it was not the performance in the ring that drove me crazy and actually made me leave the venue early.
Instead, it was the constant confusion amongst the crowd and fighters themselves when the judges' scorecards were announced.
Boxing has long been associated with corruption – already a bad enough look for the sport, but a whole different issue – and now it seems like the judging criteria is so skewed that a panel of three judges cannot agree on a common verdict for who won a fight.
Possibly the most bizarre decision I have ever seen came near the end of the card, when two boxers slugged it out in a four-round contest that ended in a majority draw.
One judge had scored the fight in favor of the blue corner, giving multiple rounds to the fighter to indicate a decisive victory, while another judge had scored the fight similarly, but in favor of the red corner.
As if it wasn’t already suspicious enough that two judges could see the fight so differently, the third judge came over the top with a verdict of 38-38, meaning that the fight would be declared a draw.
One thing that I can say from having witnessed multiple athletes go through grueling fight camps in preparation for their big nights in the ring is that nothing is more upsetting than watching two competitors feel let down by the judges despite the win, lose, or draw.
I sincerely hope that the future of boxing is not going to be hampered by results such as the ones I witnessed over the weekend, but I understand that changing the general bylaws of a sport is difficult at any level.
All I can say is, with the amount of human error and subjective opinions in the sport, it may be best for boxing to move toward electronic judging with a clear-cut scoring system.
The “sweet science” is a sport that deserves to be on display for audiences worldwide, but it needs to be better as a whole if it is going to see a resurgence in popularity.