AGAIN, We Talk About Crappy Judging, Even After Wilder KO

The fight started out like like stank, and you know that to be the case, because the peeps who convene at Barclays Center are respectful, know their boxing and thus don’t decide to holler raspberries at the ring unless it’s deserved. And they were booing in spots while Luis Ortiz plodded and Deontay Wilder showed excessive respect and bewilderment at the southpaw stance. But then, as frequently happens, the fighting spirits bubbled to the fore, and a prizefight broke out. And it ended the way we, most of us, like to to: in conclusive fashion, with a clear and present winner, with one man standing tall and triumphant and another in a fog of scrambled synapses and knowledge that dreams have been dashed, or possibly only deferred.

And yet…so much chatter after the Deontay Wilder stoppage victory centered on the work not of the boxers but of the judges. Who were rendered immaterial, thankfully, I guess, by wildman Wilder’s unrefined but yet demonstrably effective launches. Three judges, all three, saw Wilder ahead 85-84 after nine complete rounds, and oh did the internet hammer Kevin Morgan, Glenn Feldman and Carlos Ortiz Jr.

Me, not so much…From sofa-side, I saw rounds that were close, that could have gone either way. Crappy rounds are often that way. And I also saw rounds that were close that might have been up in the air till the last 30 seconds, when maybe Wilder landed the single hardest shot of the round, and thus “stole” the round on the cards. Me, I thought the 85-84s were certainly within the bounds of reason. But many of my Twitter friends didn’t.  Investigations were called for, dismay was being vocalized every where.

This is a trend, judges and bad judging being a focal point after prize fights and I am sure we can do better so this doesn’t occur as often. But I don’t think we’ll be able to reduce the regular occurrence as much as we’d like, because this is 2018. Everyone has a megaphone, and everyone is an expert. Even when there is no diploma, there is no lengthy track record, there is only certainty, based of intuition.

Me, I like to assume that usually those three judges ringside are not Lasik flunkouts and corrupted mutts who took a bag to see a fight the way the payer requested. I assume they know what they are watching. But that is not the world we live in. People don’t trust institutions, they don’t think “the system” is fair, so they try to reconcile it. They try to make sense of things and persons and interactions that defy categorization, and reasoning and normalcy. Like how there was chatter going into the Wilder v Ortiz fight that a fix was in the air. Intuition and yes, a track record, were supplying the evidence, or at least the informed speculation about what was to come. And things that happened that looked to me like business as usual in our fabulous and ludicrous freelance arena of priefighting, we examined and determined to be part of a conspiracy. All those PED positives which impacted Wilders’ career, those dudes who popped for PEDs before fighting him, that wasn’t evidence of a system working, of VADA doing its job, but maybe of a conspiracy to…I’m not sure, strip Wilder foes of their best assets before fighting him…but that actually kept them from fighting him, so I’m not sure how this puzzle piece was part of the grand scheme of things. And, as he dutifully admitted to Twitter after, the writer isn’t sure either.

Anyway, back to the judging..since I was pretty much alone on an island with the three judges, and have yet to re-watch the bout, to see how upon second watching abortional the three scorecards were, let me toss out some wisdom from a fight game lifer, Tony Cardinale, who was with John Ruiz during his title runs:

Basically, I’d like to ask all of us to tighten our standards. Look for EVIDENCE, not circumstance which matches your gut’s assessment of something. Don’t lock together puzzle pieces with stale Juicy Fruit, make sure pieces fit…Don’t be hinting that Luis Ortiz and Deontay Wilder and who knows how many other people are in on a scheme to defraud unless you have the goods on them. Because, really, bottom like, it isn’t fair to those guys. Or the sport…

Michael Woods
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Michael Woods. Host, TALKBOX podcast, powered by EVERLAST; 1st VP, Boxing Writers Association of America; is my site