Controversial scoring by judges and questionable decisions by referees has been a part of boxing since its inception. The advent of TV, video, the internet, youtube and Twitter, etc… has put a magnifying glass on the issue.
Recent events, including the IBF’s decision to order a rematch of the Joseph Agbeko-Abner Mares fight and the New Jersey Athletic Control Board’s suspending of three judges for their controversial scoring of the Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara fight, are proof that the powers that be in boxing have had enough of the negative publicity.
New Jersey Athletic Control Board commissioner Aaron M. Davis hopes his decision to suspend the judges and the IBF’s recent ruling sets the tone.
“I didn’t get any backlash from anybody, but I got a lot of kudos saying its good that there is some integrity with the commission and that there is some accountability,” Davis told Newsday. “Hopefully some of the other jurisdictions will take into consideration that you can suspend officials. And if the [officials] are not doing what they’re supposed to they should [suspend them].”
Davis suspended judges Donald Givens, Hilton Whitaker and Al Bennett, who awarded Williams a controversial majority-decision victory over Lara last month. The IBF ordered a rematch of the title bantamweight fight between Agbeko and Mares after concluding that referee Russell Mora improperly neglected to deduct points from Mares for repeated low blows. Mares was awarded a majority decision.
But are boxers concerned about getting a fairly judged and or officiated bout? WBC super middleweight champ Carl Froch, who will face WBA title holder Andre Ward in the Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic final on October 29 in Atlantic City, admitted it has recently become an issue with him.
“I’ve never really had a big concern about referees and judges, to be honest. It’s never been in the forefront with me until recently with what happened to Paul Williams,” said Froch. “It sort of made me think to myself, could it potentially be a problem? I’m fighting an American in America. So yeah, I am a little bit concerned, but I don’t lose any sleep when I go to bed at night because there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Davis, who said he commended the IBF and supported the decision, believes positive changes will result from his actions. “I think you’re going to see a lot of judges and referees on their A game,” said Davis. “That’s what we pay them for.”