Between all the hot topic of performance enhancing drug testing in boxing and the recent rash of bad decisions in boxing, our sport seems to be heading for upheaval. Recently, the president of the Boxing Promoters Association had this to say about needed changes in judging:
From: The Boxing Promoters Association
To: United States Boxing Promoters
Re: Referees and Judges
On Saturday night there was another decision rendered in a major fight (Pacquaio-Bradley) that jeopardizes the sanctity of our sport and requires immediate action by the boxing world but especially the boxing promoters. The Boxing Promoters Association (BPA) was formed to protect the integrity of the sport and force action upon the state regulators throughout the United States when warranted. The time has come for the promoters to take real action to remedy the all too often outlandish decisions made by State appointed referees and judges that effectively jeopardize the future of our sport, the fighters and the fans.
Unlike other sports, including MMA, boxing has no figurehead. That has to change now if we intend to bring growth and transparency to the fans. The figurehead in this case has to be the BPA on behalf of the fighters who put their lives on the line and the promoters who invest hundreds of thousands and millions into this sport we all love and cherish. We cannot sit idly by and allow regulators to solely control the most important facet of our sport, other than the fighters, by constantly selecting officials on that states ‘merit system’ or ‘his or her turn to work’ basis. If we as promoters don’t have as strong a voice moving forward, the warranted attacks to our sport we’re seeing and hearing today will eventually lead to the complete eroding of our fan base or worse yet, the sport’s demise.
The integrity, creditability and health of our sport are at stake. Furthermore we need to ensure that the fighters who put their careers on the line (some of whom have started as young amateurs) have a system in place that can more effectively monitor the training, grading and selection of judges and referees in the fights that fighters participate. We must take the steps to change the current system of certification and appointment of officials,
which currently is often simply determined by the state in which they reside. We collectively have the ability and experience to correct this flawed system for the sake of the fighters and the fans.
It is simply unacceptable that fighters are denied their dreams and financial security by incompetent state appointed officials. Additionally, the promoters who invest substantial sums of money, time, and effort in developing fighters and underwriting events are entitled to likewise have officials with the credentials to ensure that each and every second of every round is scored correctly. We must insist that referees and judges get it right, and if they don’t, there must be remedial action as in other major sports.
The fact that we have zero ‘real’ input related in the certification, training, selection, monitoring and review of judges and referees is unacceptable moving forward. It is the outlandish scoring that has permeated our sport for way too long that has a fan base dwindling. We are no longer willing to tolerate the unprofessional, errant and what some perceive as corrupt scoring that has reached its boiling point with fighters, media and fans alike.
It is our intention to immediately take the steps necessary to ensure the fighters and fans are going to receive the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to officiating; the state regulators expect it from the fighters and promoters, and there is no reason not to expect the same from the state regulators.
Overall, the past few years have been met with promoters advancing the sport and ridding the practices of old. However, all of our advances are completely destroyed when the winner isn’t rewarded the decision. The current process whereby the host commission is the sole appointee of the officials is simply not working. The promoters must have a real voice on the official selection process to ensure that the fighters and fans get the most experienced and competent officials, as is done in other sports. As such, the regulatory agencies must be forced to apply the same diligence to providing the highest level of officiating that they profess to have towards the safety of boxers and the rights of the public.
I’ve been impressed by the response of many of my fellow promoters to this appalling decision. The unanimous and strong support with this call to action has lit a fire with me as well as what I can only believe is the rest of the promoters (and fighters) to take action now. Accordingly, the BPA requests all licensed promoters, at all levels, confirm their participation and support moving forward with the united stand to ensure the integrity of our sport.
Among other actions, I will schedule a meeting between the individual commissions and the Association of Boxing Commissioners to put into place standards that are acceptable to the fighters and promoters, of having the most educated, competent officials overseeing each and every bout held in their
jurisdictions, regardless of where the best officials may reside. No commission should be against what’s best for the fighters and the fans, unless they have a different agenda.
I do not anticipate anything but a speedy and unanimous consent. If we truly want to bring boxing back as the great sport it is, we need the fighters and fans to know that they have a fair shake in every round of every bout.
Time is of the essence. We must provide the fighters and fans assurance that the system will be changed. Please confirm your support via an immediate return email.
I appreciate your attention and support of this very important issue for the integrity and credibility of our sport. We must ensure that the state regulatory agencies act in a manner consistent with their purpose and protect the integrity of the sport and its participants. I anxiously await your confirmation and welcome your comments.
We want to show the BPA, which we are a member of, our support. But we also want to ask you, the fight fan who makes this sport go, what would you like to see change? How do you feel your experience can improve? After all, without fans, there would be no boxing.
Your opinion and voices matter a great deal to us.