twitter google

Judging Problems Will Remain as Long as Keith Kizer Remains in Power

Despite the major politicos in Las Vegas rallying the troops to keep Keith Kizer in power, the fact remains that judging in combat sports is as problematic as it has ever been — and Kizer is one of the biggest enablers of these very bad judges.

After judge Cynthia Ross resigned for scoring Floyd Mayweather/Canelo Alvarez a 114-114 draw in a fight where Mayweather won 119-109, Keith Kizer get his ass hauled to the Attorney General’s office in Las Vegas (right next door to the NSAC office). However, thanks to politicos like Sig Rogich (the man who takes credit for the infamous 1988 Michael Dukakis “tank” ad that sunk his presidential campaign) & Marc Ratner & Lorenzo Fertitta & Skip Avansino, Kizer still has his job. Not only does Kizer still maintain power, he’s still actively defending Cynthia’s 114-114 score card by saying the 10-point system makes it plausible to score a fight like Mayweather/Canelo a draw. It’s just a bunch of palaver.

How many times do we need to hear bureaucrats and talking heads in the media make excuses for poor judges who misuse and abuse the 10-point must system to score fights horribly wrong? It’s easy to focus on general scores for fights after contests are over. Take, for example, the scores for last Saturday’s fight between Tim Bradley & Juan Manuel Marquez. Keith Kizer picked the three judges who scored that fight — Glenn Feldman from Connecticut & judges Robert Hoyle & Patricia Morse Jarman from Vegas. Not exactly an inspiring selection of officials, but the politicos are the ones who support what Keith Kizer is doing. Bradley vs. Marquez was a close fight, undoubtedly. You could have gone either way in scoring the bout, although the heavy sentiment was Bradley winning a close decision. Feldman scored it 115-113 in favor of Marquez (giving him seven rounds). Jarman scored it 116-112 in favor of Bradley (giving him eight rounds). Hoyle scored it 115-113 in favor of Bradley (giving him seven rounds). On the surface, these scores appeared to be plausible. However, it is key to look at the round-by-round scoring for each judge. That is where the next-level debate in the press and on social media must be taking place. The end-game for scoring fights isn’t where we are going to fix the horrible epidemic of bad judging. The focus should be on the process judges are using to score fights. That is where the clean up needs to happen.

And if one takes a look at the round-by-round score cards for the Bradley/Marquez fight, it is revealing in a horribly frustrating way. After 8 rounds on the score cards, Jarman & Hoyle had Bradley winning 77-75 and 79-73 respectively. Feldman had it scored as a draw at 76-76. It was the last four months in which chaos ensued. Jarman gave Bradley R11, which is inexplicable. The other judges gave R11 to Marquez. Jarman gave Bradley R10, R11, and R12. Hoyle gave Marquez the last four rounds. Feldman gave Marquez R9, R10, and R11. Call me crazy, but the scoring is a hot mess.

What we are discovering is with the Bradley/Marquez round-by-round scoring is that the final rounds to these big fights, like the Julio Cesar Chavez/Bryan Vera fight in California, are being scored haphazardly and make no sense. What we are seeing with dysfunctional scores from incompetent judges are score cards in which you almost wonder if they had a disposition to score the fight for a certain fighter and then tried to figure out a path to get to that ultimate decision by twisting their logic from round to round. The scoring for Bradley vs. Marquez was not as bad as JCC vs. Vera but the path in which the respective judges got to their scores is quite dispiriting, to say the least.

So, is the 10 point must system the problem? No system is going to be perfect and as long as you have incompetent humans using systems in place, you’re going to get some illogical results. The biggest alternative that has been pushed in the past is live scoring of fights, meaning the fighters and viewers at home know after each round where things stand. There are a lot of critics who hate live scoring because it manipulates the way fighters compete during contests. If a fighter knows they are up on the score cards, then there’s no incentive to take risks. Conversely, if a fighter is down on the cards, they have to throw caution to the wind and go-for-broke. The comparison used to criticize live scoring in combat sports is to say that if you used live voting on political pundit shows that you would get a bunch of commentators who twist logic & opinions in order to gain public support in real time. The Onion did a parody on this a few years ago when they had ‘idjits’ in real-time voting up or down on pundit opinions. Parody is a reality now with Bing live voting of Fox News Special Report panel segments.

The problem for critics of live scoring is that as long as we have incompetent judges scoring fights, there is an intrinsic value to knowing what the malcontents are up to. Until state athletic commissions are taken away from political oversight, you are always going to bureaucrats who appoint certain officials because political fixers tell them they do so. Until the whole system changes, live scoring is right now the only way to keep an eye on the judges. I would rather have fighters know where things stand after each round rather than spill their guts out round after round and suffer brain damage in the process only to find out in the end that the physical damage they just endured was all for nothing. If you’re going to put your career in the hands of human beings, it’s better to know what those humans are up to after every round.

Furthermore, the idea of live scoring itself may be more palatable for the fans given the experiment that channels like ESPN are using when it comes to live scoring of each round on social media. The round-by-round scoring of fights on Facebook for ESPN2 Friday Night Fight bouts has been pretty valid & credible for the most part. The fans are much more competent than the humans who are judging the contests. Plus, we have a new App like iJudgeFights that allows fans to score MMA bouts.

Bottom line? If fans are able to use the 10 point must system in order to credibly score boxing, kickboxing, and MMA fights, then the system itself isn’t entirely broken — it’s the humans being appointed by the bureaucrats who are the problem. The best way for critics of incompetent judges to educate the public is to focus on the round-by-round breakdowns and so the convoluted path these officials are using to get the scores they are using. It requires diligence and discipline to go after the bad apples but I think the fans of combat sports are up to the challenge. The bureaucrats are always behind-the-curve. Positive changes must occur from outside forces to change the way the regulators are currently operating.