Manny Pacquiao vs Timothy Bradley, what a fight. This fight was over 6 years ago, where Manny was at the top of the world. This was before the fabled “Pacquiao vs Mayweather” fight. The world was on his side it seemed like, with the odds very much against Bradley, being a 7-2 underdog in the Vegas bookings. The announcers, and even the televised scorecard set by Harold Letterman had Pacquiao winning the fight. The crowd would shout and cheer when Manny landed a shot, or got a flurry off of some kind. Bradley led with his head a lot, and used a lot of head movement to get in and land his own shots. He was very technical compared to the aggresive force that is Pacquiao.
When the bell rang on the 12th round, it looked like a surefire victory for Manny. But when the judges were split, it was tense. I remember watching the fight live at a friends house with many Filipino’s, they themselves heads leaned in, watching intensely for the final judge. It was awarded to Bradley, split decision. Boos and jeers immediatly erupted from the crowd. There was a sort of dismay and shock in the room I was in. I was also alarmed and in wonder. “How could he lose?” we thought. It seemed like an impossibility. The fight before, Manny came off a controversial victory himself against Juan Manuel Marquez, in which it can be argued Marquez won the fight. So how is that Manny lost when it seemed like the whole audience, and commentators were certain that Bradley lost.
Alas, it is rather complicated as judging in boxing has always been filled with controversy. What I always recommend for people new to boxing is to watch without sound. I went back and watched the Bradley fight with this in mind. I watched it twice to get a better look at it. After watching for the major aspects that a judge looks for in a fight, I can see that Bradley did deserve to win, still close.
The judging in Professional boxing is as follows:
Ring Generalship. A Judge tries to find “control” in a fight. Who is dictating the pace? How often are they attacking? Are they moving in more, or maybe they are keeping them at bay? It is difficult to assess, which is why judging must be such a hard job. But for that reason, it is also easy to decide that they are being influenced in some nefarious way.
Punches landed. In amateur boxing, the original rules were based on punches landed. Points were awarded only on this fact. If the glove hits cleanly on the chin, belly, chest, or face with no slipping, that would be one point. Kidney shots don’t count, same with punches landed on the back of the head. While a point isn’t awarded in this way in the pros, it is still influenced in how they score a round. If one fighter moves and doesn’t land a single punch, he may be moving and moving and deciding the pace, but with nothing landed, it can still lead to a losing round.
Defense. Counter-punching, slips, ducking, and so forth. Even distance from their opponent while they attack or not is considered. If a fighter isn’t taking punches and is delivering their own, then they can win the round eadily, even if the amount of punches is small. Just look at Floyd Mayweather with his punch output over the years, it has been dropping, yet still wins with ease.
All of this then leads into the 10 point system. The 10 point system dictates that a judge must award the winning boxer of the round ten points, while the loser recieves nine points. Deductions are applied after the winner and loser are decided. For example, if one boxer headbutts, but wins the round in the eyes of the judges, it would be a 10-9 in favour of the boxer that headbutted; however, that boxer would lose one point for the foul, thus making it a 9-9 round.
It is extremely subjective, which leads to many controversies. The judges also have one vantage point: the one side of the ring that they sit at. We, the television audience and the referee have the best eyes on the fight as we can see most angles. However, the distractions are greater on TV, with the commentators influencing how we perceive the fight. Which is why I think having no sound is still preferred if you want to understand how a fighter wins a round. With that said, it is also why you never leave it to the judges, and go for the KO when presented with it.
There was a fight this weekend, Genedy “GGG” Golovkin vs Sergiy Dereveschenko. Golovkin was the major favourite in this fight, with the potential to win another opportunity against Canelo Alvarez. However, it seems like a lot of people feel that GGG lost the fight. I agree with this, as I feel Sergiy did a lot more to win. A fighter can “steal” rounds though, which is what I feel Golovkin did, only turning it on in the last minute. We also watched it without sound, making it easier to decide the outcome. Sergiy took a knockdown in the first round, and suffered a cut above his right eye. However, these are to be decided in the round that it happened in, not throughout, so it should be noted that to say that he had a cut shouldn’t matter. If the fighter is fine and can continue, the injury should be a non factor because he fights as if he has none. The knockdown is a one point difference, if it was a split decision then maybe it would influence the victory, but it was unianimous in GGG’s favour, so iyou tell me if it was impactful or not.
When I see these kind of fights, I wonder if the judges are being influenced. However, what is the goal of any sport? To win? If the end goal of playing guitar was to finish a song, then the fastest players would be celebrated most. Sure, a fight will indicate an end with a victor and loser, and that can influence more athletes to continue in their footsteps; but a martial art is a little more then that. So while I see these controversies, what keeps me going is the skill and prowess of the fighters, but more importantly, the goings on around me while they are being watched. The people around, the discussion, the stories told and so forth.
I remember when I went to Barcelona, I was looking around for a hostel to stay at, when I came across a review for this one by the beach. It was quite negative, talking about the noise of those around them, and the inability to have a good time with all the distractions. I actually went with that hostel. I remember loving it, mostly for those “distractions.” I gathered that that person was focused on what they were doing, and nothing more. Without opening up and reveling with those around us, it can lead to a negative outlook, a cynical one I think.
It is easy to be hung up by Manny’s loss, or Golovkin’s win, but what else came as a result of it all? Even when the Calgary Flames made it to the final in the ’03-’04 NHL season, what I remember is the joy and happiness that came about from everyone in the city. If we had focused on the fact that they lost, we may of shared the same reputation as the Vancouver Canucks fans when they lost in the ’10-’11 season, causing havoc and devastation for losing, only seeing one thing and one thing only. I have drifted evermore from sporting events as a whole, but I still enjoy the skill employed by the athletes that put their hearts and bodies on the line. Even when the Raptors won the NBA championship this past year, I was mostly enjoying the happiness that was going around. I was surprised by the amount of tension people gave themselves while watching, but I understand as it was Canada’s team. Alas, I am but a spectator enjoying the journey they are on.
I guess my point is that things are not going to turn out the way we want, and we may be met with dissapointment and dissatisfaction. But, life goes on. We find learning in everything, in anything. GGG won, but I guarantee Sergiy learned what he must do for the next time he fights; he will come back the better fighter, not GGG. Manny fought Bradley again, and won the second, and third time as well. But our lives aren’t dictated by theirs, we are spectators, spectators that can learn and build wisdom as we watch, while enjoying and being inspired perhaps to try the sport. To try other things, to brave the unknown.
But for reals, screw those promotion companies. Later on