PROMOTERS' ASSOCIATION WANTS OFFICIALS GRADED
By Michael Walters
Bad decisions in boxing are as old as the sport itself but promoter Joe DeGuardia and his cohorts at the Boxing Promoters Association (BPA) are trying to make that a thing of the past. Earlier this month, on the sport’s biggest stage, Manny Pacquiao was robbed of a clear cut victory over Tim Bradley when Bradley was shockingly awarded a split decision victory in Las Vegas.
“Sometimes it takes a catastrophe like that to wake people up and call them to action. I don’t know that I would have gotten the support of virtually every promoter in the United States had that not happened”, said DeGuardia about the a hopefully positivie outcome that Pacquiao's loss could have, in the form of the BPA’s stated effort to reform boxing.
“The fact is a man trains, and frankly works his (butt) off. He works for all his life to get to a spot or point in his career and he should not have that taken away or his financial future taken away by somebody’s incompetence,” said DeGuardia, the president of the BPA. “Officials should be held to the same standards that we hold to fighters to.
“Certainly there have been bad decisions in the past and it seems to be happening more lately,” the BPA president said. “Just because things are occurring or have occurred in the past doesn’t mean that we should keep letting it take place or go on.
Sometimes, the outcome is correct, and it masks an indefensible scorecard turned in by one of the judges. For example, this past Saturday night in Newark, New Jersey, Tomasz Adamek defeated Eddie Chambers vs. Adamek in a very close bout that ringside judge Alan Rubenstein scored 119-109 in favor of Adamek.
“I think the most important thing is for us (BPA) is to make an impact on the sport and on the public’s confidence in the sport.”
Although the promoters pay the officials, the referee and three judges are selected by local commissions run by the state government, or in cases where shows are held on reservations, by Native American tribal commissions. The BPA would like to make sure that the best officials are selected, and one way of doing that is to enact standards. DeGuardia believes those standards would include ensuring “that you have officials that are the most highly competent, that are graded, that are monitored, and that immediate action is taken when they (judges) are not properly rendering scores.”
The BPA would like to work closely with the various state commissions and the Association of Boxing Commissions to ensure that the needed reforms and changes occur sooner than later. “I think we need a grading system the way other sports do it. We need properly trained officials, we need to conduct this sport like a sport,” he said.
The BPA's preferred system would be that judges are assigned on merit (their rating) and not due to cronyism or to a rotation.
“We should have the best, the same way that when you’re watching the Super Bowl, the best officials officiate the Super Bowl. If you’re watching the NBA playoffs and Championships they use the best for those, the same thing with Major League Baseball,” DeGuardia said. “That doesn’t mean that there are not going to be bad calls, those things are going to happen. We want to make sure that the public can be confident that those situations are rare.
“One of the problems is that the state commissions and the national commission don’t have the experience or funding to be able to effectuate what needs to be done,” DeGuardia said. To ensure that the best officials are working the biggest fights, he said the BPA needs to take it upon itself to help make that a reality.
The first step is to create an open dialogue with the commissions and the people who are most closely involved with the sport, namely the fighters and the promoters. “There is no reason why we can’t have the best officials,” DeGuardia said. “There is no reason why a fighter can’t go into a fight and know that he’s going to get a fair shake”.
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