GUEST ARTICLE: GodFather of Boxing MailBag

By Christopher Jason Young

What’s up with these atrocious scoring as of late. I thought I knew how to judge a fight. Either I don’t know or these judges are blind. The scorecard of Parker vs. Fury 118-110 is ridiculous. 118-110 Golovkin vs. Canelo ridiculous. Jeff Horn over Manny Pacquiao 117-110 Ridangdiclous! I’m sorry they are either incompetent or corrupt!

S. Jackson

I see and truly understand your frustrations. I’ll do my best in replying to you at the same time try to shed some light on the overall judging and what the judges look for.

Over the test of time and including most recent fans, have been questioning the scores of judges and wondering what in the heck are they looking at. Boxing fans are either screaming the judge doesn’t know what they are looking at or the accusation of corruption comes out. So, what I would like to do is give the point of view of the fan and the point of view of the judges sitting at ringside so people can get a better understanding on what judges see.

Now from the fans point of view who are watching it at home have a slight advantage over the fans who are there live and in person and maybe a particular judge’s position is that they watch the fight from many different camera angles and with high definition being the standard now they can see if a punch lands clean or missed. I have seen many of times where the hometown or the crowd’s favorite boxer swing and miss and the crowd reacts like the punch has landed.

The occasional disadvantage that the boxing fans have when watching a fight is that they sometimes get blinded but what they see by listening to the commentators/ play by play announcers. There is few play by play announcers that may be slightly bias towards another fighter and they will call it on how they “see it.” For the fans that may not be as knowledgeable on what they are witnessing can be influenced by the commentators. What some fans rely on which doesn’t always tell the whole story of the fight is CompuBox. Now the reason for CompuBox is to settle controversies surrounding fights by counting each punch thrown by each of the fighters, and also each punch landed, to provide fight viewers with a final punch statistical count and a perception of who should ideally be given the judges’ decision, in the cases where a fight lasts the full distance. This system calls for two operators. Each operator watches one of the two fighters and has access to four keys, corresponding to jab connect, jab miss, power punch connect, and power punch miss. The operators key in the different punches as they happen, collecting punch counts and hit percentages along the way.

Now the judges do not see the CompuBox numbers nor do they see any replays or hear the play-by-play. The judges have an advantage of having the best seat in the house and have a clear view of the two combatants. The disadvantage of the judge is that their view is only that position. So if in one particular round, the two boxers are on the other side of the ring in the corner, he/she might not get a clear view of a boxer that is returning fire against the ropes. Occasionally the referee may get in the way at special moment in the round. The judges are taught, if you didn’t see it you cannot score it.

Let’s talk about scoring for a bit. I have sat in judging seminars were Steve Weisfield has taught many great judges around the world on the four criteria on scoring a boxing round. I have heard that some judges prefer certain style over others. For example, some may love the aggressive style like a Rocky Marciano or Joe Frazier. Some may favor a style like Sugar Ray Leonard or Vasyl Lomachenko. To me that is BS! No matter what style the boxer brings to the ring you must judge him according to the four criteria in boxing.

Clean punching is the most important aspect in scoring a boxing round. It may not be initially apparent, but there are various elements included within that phrase. First, there’s the number of punches. The boxer who lands more punches generally wins. However, harder punches count more than lighter punches.

Now, there’s no mathematical formula that equates the number of punches with the hardness of the punch. The judge must weigh the two based on his experience. But more important than the number of punches or the hardness of the punch is the effect of the punch. For example, a seemingly lighter punch that causes a boxer to stagger is scored higher than a seemingly harder punch that has no effect.

Defense is also important because it helps a boxer set up his offense. Most judges that have precept me and gave me advice do not give credit for defense alone. If a boxer has a good defense, it means that he is not being hit with punches. But let’s remember the purpose of boxing is to score by landing punches on your opponent.

Effective aggression, in the extremely rare case of a judge scoring a round otherwise even, the judge might side with the boxer who was the aggressor on the theory that he is trying to make the fight. However, the key is whether the aggression is “effective.” Is the boxer landing or just coming forward? Just because the boxer is moving forward doesn’t mean he is being effective with his aggression. If Boxer A is moving forward swinging and is not landing on the scoring area and is being counter by Boxer B continuously with clean shots with that scenario you cannot give Boxer A credit for winning that round.

Ring generalship describes a boxer who is generally controlling the action and putting himself into position to land clean punches, or employing a strategy to make his opponent fight his fight. Sometimes, however, the other boxer is forced to fight his opponent’s fight and comes out on top.

The 10-point must system of scoring, fans may accept as a given the fact that the 10-point must system is universal, but that wasn’t the case until recently. Putting aside the possibility of a point deduction by the referee for repeated low blows or other infractions, the winner of a round must receive 10 points, and the loser nine or less. A typical round is 10-9.

Throughout my reply, I have mentioned scoring each round and not the fight. I have heard rhetoric from some fans that think whoever wins the most rounds wins the fight. That is not always the case. Whichever boxer has the most points at the end of the bout is the winner. For example, look at the first two Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manual Marquez fights. Now Marquez won more rounds but he didn’t win. In those two fights Pacquiao dropped Marquez four times, and those points decided the outcome of the fight.

Some fans without knowing decide the winner of the fight by going with the boxer who won the drama of the fight, instead of breaking each fight into 12 (12 round fight) separate miniature bouts. Once that round is over its over. Here is another misconception that fans may not know. The believe that judges keep a written running tally throughout the bout. That is incorrect. In between each round the referee goes around and collects the score cards from each judge and hands it to the state commission supervisor and then hands it to the clerk and he/she ensures that the clerk input the scores correctly and the math is accurate.

Now this doesn’t mean that some judges may not have a bad night or need additional training but I just want to show you both sides on how the people at home can see a fight differently that the judges at ringside.

I hope this answers your question, but like always you all do this to me. You give me a simple question that requires a detailed answer. Thank you emailing in.

If you have questions or comments you can send them to or on Twitter @GfofBoxing

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