The Complex World of Boxing Scoring

05/23/2023 - No comments

By Mauricio Sulaimán – Son of José Sulaimán – WBC President

This past weekend, the boxing world enjoyed two fights of the highest level of importance, quality and emotion.

On one hand, Katie Taylor, Olympic champion and undisputed lightweight champion, fought for the first time at home in front her people in Dublin, Ireland, against undisputed super lightweight world champion Chantelle Cameron of England. Two undefeated, undisputed champions and holders of the four belts of both divisions.

On the other hand, at the MGM in Las Vegas, the undisputed lightweight champion, Devin Haney, from the United States, fought against the two-time Olympic champion and former world champion in three divisions, Ukrainian Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Both fights were in front of completely packed arenas and they resulted in very close fights, razor thin decisions, but with the best possible quality, both technically and emotionally, as well as dramatic. It was up to the judges to determine the winner, and as often happens in our beloved sport, whenever there is a close fight, the decision was controversial and opinions were divided among fans and the world’s media, especially in the Haney vs. Lomachenko. Boxing is bound to be controversial and come under fire from the press and fans whenever there is a big fight and it turns out to be close.

There is a big difference between what the three judges who score the fights see versus what absolutely everyone else sees, whether it be in the front row, the last seat in the arena, or on television.

VISION. The judge is seated in a unique place; The only view perspective for them is what happens in the ring as they are right there (even though it is not necessarily the best position), while everyone else has much more spectrum of view and on TV you can see what the cameras, with different angles, project.

IMPARTIALITY. The judge is absolutely impartial, while the others, in most cases, are biased towards their favorite on the fight, and in the case of fans this favoritism can even be passionate, whether due to nationality, fan favorite, popularity, and even for having bet in favor of one of the two fighters.

CONCENTRATION. The judge is totally concentrated on the actions of the ring during the three minutes of duration, while the others have countless distractions during the round in the stadium or at home, watching on TV. Think about it, how many distractions are there during an event.

Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall nearly come to blows!

JUDGING CRITERIA. There are guidelines for judging and identifying the winner of each round; there are many factors that can confuse the effectiveness of one or another fighter. Only punches connected in the valid zone count, body punches have great value although those to the face are more spectacular; quantity, quality and the damage caused by the impacts are qualified, and the domain of the actions and even the aggressiveness are considered. Each round is independent, so it’s like scoring 12 different fights, since the action does not accumulate. As they say: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens in each episode is recorded, and the next one is another story.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONDITION. The judge is physically and mentally rested, they are prohibited from drinking alcohol for at least one day before the fight, while fans in some cases, enjoy one or many beers or other drinks before and during the fight, which certainly has an effect on the mood. I think I`m explaining myself correctly in a sober manner?

SPORT OF APPRECIATION. Scoring in boxing is of appreciation, as are very few others. It is what the official sees that is considered to score the round. There are no goals, runs, baskets or a clear score, it is appreciation, and for the reasons described above, each individual can see different things within the same action. As fans, whoever likes X only sees the blows that X connects, and not the ones that Y lands.

CROWD NOISE. The ring official is not supposed to be influenced by the fans’ reactions and noise as this can be extreme in some instances. However, for fans the noise can mislead to believe such is due to effectiveness of the favorite fighter. It is customary that whenever the house favorite lands even a soft blow, the crowd roars and when the non-favorite fighter lands, there is complete silence.

There are a few other technical things to consider, but I feel like I’ve got the point across.

In no way do I intend to justify failures that have stained our sport. There have definitely been inexplicable scores, difficult to understand and much more to accept. This happens due to the official’s incompetence, inability, inexperience, or simply having a bad night, which happens to all of us. What I want to point out is that boxing is an honorable sport.

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou LIVE On DAZN & Sky Sports Box Office

Chantelle Cameron went to Ireland and won at Taylor’s home, a close fight, but based on great boxing, aggressiveness, and forcefulness. Devin Haney defeated crowd favorite Lomachenko based on great body punching, ring command and actions. Both fights were very close, any result could be accepted: either fighter winning by one round or a draw, therefore THERE WAS NO ROBBERY, as the social networks shout everywhere. Let’s be responsible and admit the facts, two great events happened and boxing won, don’t let the bandwagon of negativism carry you towards tarnishing our sport.

Vasiliy Lomachenko deserves all the praise and recognition. What an incredible demonstration of will and greatness coming back from adversity, the pandemic, a tough loss to Lopez with a delicate injury , and then the horrors of the evil invasion of his country. Even while losing the fight, he won and has a bright future ahead. Devin Haney deserves all the praise and recognition as well, a young kid who has been forever irresponsibly minimized but has performed in an incredible fashion against very tough competition and simply by looking at his last three fights, winning against Kambosos twice and now Lomachenko, the future is bright!

Did you know…?

Devin Haney began his professional career from the age of 16 in bars and restaurants in Tijuana. And after that, he has been close to the WBC; Today he is the king of the world, a wonderful success story. Vasiliy Lomachenko is perhaps the greatest amateur boxer of all time, twice Olympic gold with only one loss in almost 500 amateur fights, is a pride of the Ukraine as he even went to the frontline to defend his country during the current invasion. Both fighters are the pride of The WBC and make boxing better in all aspects.

Today’s anecdote

My dad had just passed away. I was in my room in Las Vegas after a fight when Don Majeski called me up to introduce me to an amateur boxer.

A shy but smiling young man, it was Devin Haney, he came to see me, standing beside his father.

Since that day they have been very close to us, and we will never forget how they both came running from the airport to be present at one of the anniversary masses of Don Jose.

I welcome your feedback at contact@wbcboxing.com.