John L. Smith, Las Vegas Review-Journal
The fighters were at the MGM. The judges were on Mars.
That’s the growing consensus after Saturday night’s WBO welterweight title fight between champion Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden.
Judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross scored the 12-round fight 115-113 for Bradley. Judge Jerry Roth had Pacquiao winning, 115-113. If each judge adjusted their scorecard by just one round, the fight would have been declared a draw.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, many veteran boxing observers were watching Pacquiao dominate Bradley.
With impeccable timing, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum has assumed his usual position of outrage and called for an investigation by the state attorney general’s office. And on Tuesday, and like he doesn’t have anything better to do, Senate Majority Leader and boxing fan Harry Reid joined the chorus of boos.
But this isn’t a job for lawyers.
This is a job for optometrists.
What are attorneys going to do, file motions to compel the three boxing judges to wear their glasses next time?
In Nevada, officials sometimes call for MRIs for fighters after a particularly grueling bout. After Pacquiao-Bradley, someone should have demanded Ross, Ford and Roth have their heads examined.
Although his card didn’t count Saturday night, retired veteran judge Chuck Giampa scored the mismatch at home on television.
Fully focused on each round, watching with the sound off, he made it 118-110 for Pacquiao. In other words, Giampa gave Bradley two rounds. It wasn’t close.
You can argue that watching a fight on television is not the same as seeing it in person, but you can’t argue with Giampa’s credentials or his professional approach to the subject. In a career spanning a quarter century, Giampa judged more than 2,000 fights, including 178 title bouts.
He was on the ring apron for championship wars involving Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and many more.
At 69, he is a boxing consultant for Showtime, conducts seminars on judging and writes a monthly column for Ring magazine.
He also admits he made some mistakes during his career. Everyone does. Judges are human, despite what the jeering crowd contends.
The challenge, he says, is to admit your errors when they occur, move on, and never stop analyzing your work. Don’t become complacent.
Did that happen Saturday?
Giampa made it clear he’s not trying to deliver a low blow to his former colleagues. He expresses a great deal of respect for Ford and Roth.
But, in his considered opinion, Bradley was a better actor than puncher. Even in his best rounds he failed to land telling blows in core areas. He simply received more credit than he deserved.
Although Giampa isn’t sold on the use of punch statistics, in this case the numbers further illustrate Pacquiao’s dominance.
“A fighter can have his best round, but was it enough to win the round?” he says. “I think that’s what happened in the later rounds when Bradley had better rounds, but were they enough to win the round? I don’t think they were, in my opinion.”
While he doesn’t favor suspending the judges, Giampa believes officials get into slumps and bad habits just like the athletes they scrutinize. Increased training and monitoring is called for in this case.
Giampa tells of the years the late Chuck Minker headed the Nevada Athletic Commission. Post-fight analysis was often intense with round-by-round scrutiny of each judge involved.
As a rule of thumb, Minker was satisfied if the three judges agreed on nine of 12 rounds. Anything less, and Minker questioned what his judges were seeing or missing.
On Saturday, the judges agreed unanimously on just a half-dozen rounds.
“Obviously, they weren’t watching the same fight,” Giampa says, adding that he called the commission Monday and suggested an independent review.
While they’re reviewing the bout, it will be important for commission officials to learn the judges’ philosophical approach to the match. Knowing what they were looking for might lead to an understanding of what they missed.
Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer told reporters earlier this week that his office is scheduling just such a meeting.
In a story reported in Ring, Kizer said, “I want them to review it with me for my own edification. So I’m going to have them come in individually, and we will watch it.”
Their critics in the media and public argue it will be the first time the judges have seen the fight.