It seems the boxing mafia have been at it again.
At the weekend, Scottish boxer Ricky Burns was given a shocking decision against Raymundo Beltran. The fight, in Glasgow, Scotland, was for the WBO Lightweight Title. If you watched the fight, you’d have Beltran winning the contest, in which he broke Burns’ jaw in the second round and floored him in the eighth.
Even though none of the judges were from Scotland (England, USA and Belgium), this stunk of a home decision. A friend of mine, who is a big boxing fan, said the result “didn’t make him proud to be British”, another said “Ricky Burns looks a bit embarrassed to be still holding the belt. He was second best all night.” I watched it and couldn’t believe it.
But don’t take the couch coach’s word for it, here are a few experts.
Speaking the day after the fight, Steve Feder, Beltran’s manager said:
“He was robbed, of course. Ultimately it is a sad day for the sport. It is not the only day like that the sport has had. I don’t blame Eddie [Hearn] or anyone at Matchroom. They were embarrassed. I think they’re gentlemen and they’re here because they love the sport but, if I read them right, they’re embarrassed. I don’t think it sits well with them.
Most importantly, Ricky didn’t want to put that belt on. What does that say to you? We’re corrupting a beautiful sport. When it’s done right it is beautiful but last night tarnished it.”
OK, so the defeated fighter’s manager isn’t the most impartial of voices. So here’s Eddie Hearn, the winner’s promoter:
“If I’m being honest, I gave it to Beltrán but I had it very close. I feel Ricky may have lost the fight by two rounds tops.”
He also told Sky Sports News:
“Beltran probably did enough to win and my gut feeling on the bell was that Beltran got it”
Hardly a ringing endorsement of the champion.
Commonwealth Super Bantamweight champion, Carl Frampton, said on Twitter:
Ricky burns is a good guy, but I’m walking up this morning feeling sorry for Beltran. He won that fight by 4 rounds in my book
— Carl Frampton MBE (@RealCFrampton) 8 September 2013
And finally, bookies Paddy Power agreed to pay out to anyone who backed Beltran in the name of justice, claiming he had been robbed.
Can the home town decision be stopped?
By its very nature boxing is going to be subjective. The three judges never agree on the points, and everyone has an opinion. And bad decisions aren’t just the preserve of boxing, they happen in every sport, but boxing seems to attract more than its fair share of stinkers.
A quiz question that comes up every few years in the pub – which is the only sport where the competitors, the officials and the crowd don’t know the score until after the contest has finished? You’ve guessed it, boxing.
Surely the quickest fix to shocking decisions like this is for the officials scores to be displayed at the end of each round. That way, even if the fighters and their corners disagree, they can change tactics towards the end of the fight. It’s not perfect, but it’s less of a mess than at the minute.
If you’ve got any ideas on how to improve the quality of judging in boxing, post them below.