It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the term “We wuz robbed!” was first used in boxing.
These words were shouted out by Jack Sharkey’s manager, Joe Jacobs, when the results of his fighter’s scrap against German Max Schmeling were announced at the end of their fight at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, on June 12 1930.
I can relate to Jacobs’ cry, even though the fight took place way before I was even an idea in my parents’ minds (they weren’t even born then).
It’s mind boggling that after all these years, those in charge of this sport have still not come with a clear, simple and fair way of judging boxing matches.
How could the judges – Artur Ellensohn of Germany, the UK’s Reg Thompson and Tony Nyangiwe of South Africa – score last Saturday’s IBO minimumweight fight between Nkosinathi Joyi and Hekkie Budler so differently when they were seated right next to the ring?
For the record, Ellensohn scored the fight 116-112 for Joyi, Thompson 116-113 for Budler, and Nyangiwe gave it to Budler on a score of 115-113.
So if these judges, who were seated right under the ropes, saw two different fights, what can stop the Joyi camp from crying “we wuz robbed”?
For years, judges have been coming up with strange scores and nothing happens to them.
Some of these fights have even caused the most talented pugilists to quit the sport.
Sometimes the way the judges score the fights is similar to throwing a young man to the wolves.
This because for many boxers, being at the end of such shoddy and unfair judging spells the end of the road.
One of the most controversial fights was the middleweight title bout between then undisputed champion of the world Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, on April 6 1987.
After the highly anticipated fight, judge Jojo Guerra scored the fight 118-110 for Leonard.
This was met with huge shouts of protest from the stands.
Dave Moretti scored 115-113 for Leonard and Lou Filippo 115-113 for Hagler.
These gave the title to the challenger, Leonard, thus robbing boxing of one of its most talented and loyal fighters.
Hagler retired a bitter man with an impressive record of 67 fights – 62 wins (52 by knockout), 3 losses and 2 draws.
To date, I still maintain that Hagler was robbed in that fight just as I boldly say Joyi got the short end of the stick last week.
For the record, Hagler, who was an undisputed champion from 1980 to 1987, made 12 undisputed title defences and still holds the highest knockout record of all middleweight champions (78%).
He was not the kind of boxer the sport would like to lose just because of some shoddy judging. Boxing authorities need to do something, fast, about this scoring thing before we lose more talented fighters.
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