Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens, and the rest of you!
First, apologies for so few updates lately. I had intended to post this a week ago, but was away doing family stuff, but better late than never, right?
As my fellow fight freaks will probably know, the recent decision awarding a title bout to Tim Bradley over Manny Pacquiao had my going all Grant Ranty. It was one of the worst boxing decisions I’ve ever witnessed, and certainly one of the worst in recent memory. But sometimes when I get all Ranty, I don’t see things as clearly as I should. So I turn to others who might have a clearer view of things.
In this case, I contacted the prolific UK based youtube boxing analyst known as “Wingy.” He presents thoughtful, detailed analysis of most major fights week-in, week-out, which are well worth watching.
I recently asked him about the Pacquiao/Bradley fight, and how boxing is scored. If you are unfamiliar with how professional boxing judges score fights, his breakdown of what to look for when you watch a fight is particularly interesting. So here is the complete text of our chat about the biggest boxing story of the year so far:
Grant: I know this question has been asked a billion times in the boxing press since the Pacquiao/Bradley fight, but it seems like the place to start. You’ve watched the fight a few times and scored it a few times. What was your initial reaction to the fight results, and how did you score that night and in your subsequent viewings? (I scored it 118-110 on fight night for Pacman and then 117-111 on a second view, myself.)
Wingy: First of all thanks for the questions! My initial reaction to the fight was total and utter disbelief. I remember casually finishing off my beers for the night, thinking Pac did good. Maybe not prime Pac but he done it with relative ease except for taking his feet off the gas for two rounds. Good win…
Then when i heard how close the scores were i thought “damn what fight were they watching?!” but I of course obviously knew (or thought i knew) that Pacquiao had won. It was late in the morning for me (UK time) I’m clearing up, thinking to go to sleep. Then when they said…”and the new” i literally thought “ain’t that some b*lls**t”
My initial score was 118-110. Then the few who had it for Bradley begged me to watch it again in extreme detail. I even turned the sound off like they asked me to. To me sound on or off it’s the same when scoring. I’m not scoring crowd cheers, I’m scoring punches that land! So, second time viewing. 118-110 same as before lol.
The 12th was very close though so i could have gave Bradley a share of it on second view 118-111 but no matter how you try and chop and twist it. Stretch it, beat it etc Pacquiao won. Even Andre Ward his friend said Bradley lost the fight clearly. I think he had the same score as me by a round or two maybe.
Even the video doing the rounds on Youtube lately that asks “was Pacquiao really robbed” because the HBO commentators were calling some Pac punches that didn’t land, still doesn’t change the fact that Pacquiao still landed a whole world more shots than Bradley. You just can’t twist and distort what actually happened, but people are trying to. It’s not even about being a fan of either fighter, it’s about being a fan of Boxing.
Grant: What’s your assessment of the performance of both fighters that night?
Wingy: Let’s be fair Bradley did good; took some bangers and stayed on his feet but was never going to have the required skills to beat Pac, he was never going to be able to really trouble Pacquiao. Bradley isn’t a crisp boxer, he shows glimpses of intelligent footwork etc but is also sometimes raw and scrappy. It’s his athleticism; heart and drive which wins him a lot of his fights. When he puts his mind to it and works off the jab he can look very good. But more often than not he leans forward, falls in (hence his head issues) and makes things messy, unclean. He was never going to beat Pac punch for punch, and we saw this, he barely landed throughout the whole fight and no one will tell you Bradley hurt him clean with a punch, not even Bradley fans!
Bradley had pretty good defence in places, awkward and slipping some of Pacquiao’s shots, and here’s where the problem is. So many people wanted Bradley to win they were scoring his defence, instead of his punches landed. I think a lot of people were actually scoring him slipping shots and totally discounting the fact that Pacquiao was out landing him! Scoring his defence as opposed to WHICH OF HIS ACTUAL PUNCHES WERE LANDING.
Pacquiao? He looked good but his foot speed and explosive DeLa Hoya era Pacman intensity and fire seems to be fading with age; it’s going, which is only natural. However he beat Timothy Bradley with relative ease and I’m on record as saying I wanted Timothy to win the fight as I liked his story. I said this on video before his fight. But I can lie to myself to be honest. Pacquiao won, man. lol. It couldn’t be any freakin clearer. Just ignore everyone, including me and watch the fight. That’s all the evidence you need.
Grant: Those who defend the decision say it was a close fight (I’ve heard some say “Just like Pacquiao/Marquez 3.”) Is there anyway you can see this fight being that close? Why do you think that comparison to Marquez is being made and is it fair?
Wingy: Pacquiao Marquez III was slightly closer I’ll concede but only by a few rounds going by my cards for both fights. I still really saw that fight as a robbery, I don’t like using the term that much because soon it will start to cheapen its meaning. For example recently the Chambers vs Adamek fight. A very close difficult to score fight but no where near a robbery (115-114 to chambers on my card) Yet people screaming robbery saying Chambers clearly won! Come on the fight was close. I had him winning as i said but it was close.
However Rios vs Abril, Chisora vs Helenius, Lara vs Williams these are clear robberies, and they should be called as such. Pacquiao vs Bradley now has the dubious honour of joining these other fights.
The comparison between the Bradley and Marquez fight is being made because people see it as being a “fair” robbery because Marquez got ripped off in the third fight. He did, i agree. It is a kind of Justice in a way but the more this keeps happening, the worse it is for the credibility of our sport. Tit for tat regarding robberies makes a mockery of everything both fighters in the fight go through to get there, plus in the ring.
Grant: Alright, lets move to the judging itself. The judges all scored 115-113, two of them Bradley. No one that I know in the boxing press who knows boxing or anyone who has been around boxing scored it that way. What’s your view on how the judges can score the fight that close?
Wingy: There are many conspiracy theories and what not and even though lets be honest we have no proof, I still suspect Bob Arum (promoter for both Pacquiao and Bradley: Grant) knows more than he’s letting on about the whole thing. That guy is arguably the most money hungry guy in boxing next to Floyd (Mayweather Jr.) lol. However Arum has ruled out a Bradley rematch, this is something many thought he would jump at. So it’s hard to point the finger at him as time goes on and more details are revealed but i still don’t think he was 100% innocent regarding the scoring. Just a spidey sense feeling.
The WBO’s resolution seemed at least to bring some kind of justice for fight fans. They found five respected officials from around the world to watch the fight again. They did so and they all re-scored it for Pacquiao, by a landslide. 115-111, 116-112, 117-111, 118-110, 117-111. So eight or more rounds from each judge to Pacquiao.
Even then 117-111 is the most generous score I could give to Bradley without beginning to start making up things that are happening in the fight, but are really not. Like Bradley winning it.
Grant: When you score a fight, explain what you are looking for. What should a judge, in your view, be watching for and can you explain what you mean for the benefit of readers who might not be familiar with boxing, what “clean, effective punching” in particular means?
Wingy: Well I’m just a fan i have to make that clear! Nothing more. I just happen to do Youtube videos. However I’ve been watching the sport since the Eubank vs Benn (in 1990) days. The sport is my passion my deep love but I’m not a boxing expert so my view has no more credibilty than a very passionate fans in my eyes. However I will argue my point till my grave if i think I’m right. haha
I’ve laced up gloves and I’ve Boxed but only as part of Marital arts training and sparring. Nothing more. I’ve just happened to watch a HELL of a lot of fights. Plus i score fights in detail for my Youtube channel; all the fights every week, for the past two and a bit years. I’ve learned to become pinpoint sharp with my scoring because this is online. People will call you out if you can’t score.
So when i score It’s not done on a casual level. It’s done on a pen and paper every punch, every connected shot jotted down geek style level. I sit with a pen and pad and a Boxing app @boxscorecard for every fight i do a video on.
I look for punches that land clearly. Not on gloves or miss etc. I don’t score just aggression alone either. Rios was the most aggressive in the Abril fight but did he win it? Of course not. Ring Generalship people say they use to score fights and i believe judges are told to incorporate this into fights? However the actual reality is and this goes un noticed, every person has their own individual definition of what Ring Generalship is! People are to scared to admit they don’t really know what it is because they don’t want to appear to look ignorant of Boxing amongst the snobby Boxing elite. I did a video on this topic asking “What is your definition of ring Generalship”.
So me personally? I score good quality clean punches on legal areas of the body. Not shots hitting gloves elbows or not getting through. Or wild flurries that miss, or jabs that are hitting air. Just score mentally as you watch a fight the clean punches you see. That’s all and it’s the fairest way. Start to bring other aspects into scoring and you start to confuse the issue, as we’re seeing with Pacquiao vs Bradley.
Grant: Commentators like HBO’s Jim Lampley are making a big deal out of the difference in the judges scores and the Compubox stats. In round seven for instance, Pacman out punched Bradley more than that 2 to 1, but all the judges gave Bradley that round. What’s your view on Compubox, and do the stats tell us anything useful about how that fight should have been scored?
Wingy: Man, I never refer to or use Compubox in my vids, even when it supports my argument. People refer to Compubox as an all knowing sentient Matrix-like intelligent computer that is pin point accurately correct. It’s a couple of guys scoring the fight. Simple, except they score not with points but by recording shots landed pressing a few buttons. They are still humans, it’s still their opinions on what punches land, and what don’t.
It just so happens Compubox (two fellas scoring) actually agree with me regards Pacquiao and Bradley. I agree it probably has it’s uses but my eyes are good enough for me. So Compubox are cool but ! don’t need or use them at all when scoring or analysing fights. They are given a bit too much respect when they are really just two more judges.
Grant: If the judging in this fight and a few others recently (The Rios decision and say, Williams vs. Lara) have been so poor, is it time to not only change judges, but change how fights are scored? Is there anything you would like to see changed in the way professional boxing is judged?
Wingy: I would say sit down and draft out a simple clear document world wide for every judge regarding what to take into account when scoring a fight, make it legally binding for ALL judges that they HAVE to take the suggested aspects into account when fighting. I’ll draft it. It’s really simple. Score punches that land cleanly on any legal area, nothing else.
Of course no one will agree so it’ll never happen, if they did though we’d see Zero dodgy decisions because judges would know that we would all now know exactly what they should be scoring. Clean punches! Anything outside of that Ring Generalship, aggression etc etc blah blah is too flimsy and confuses people, even experts and judges them selves again, as we saw with Pacquiao vs Bradley!
Grant: Finally, as a fight fan and fight analyst, do you think this decision will have any long term repercussions on the sport?
Wingy: Well Jose Sulaimans jumped on this controversy to get a little shine for himself, introducing his new computer system for the WBC scoring a fight going on the level of dominance they feel another fighter has within a fight. Only issue with this new system is that it still doesn’t look at the only thing which should be focused on. Clean Punches landed. Here’s what he suggests with his new system:
“We will let the judges click the buttons for: 1- very slight difference; 2- somewhat clear difference; 3- clear difference; 4- overwhelming difference; and 5- a beating. In addition to that, we will have: 6- one button for knockdowns; and 7- one other button for fouls.”
He also ends with this:
“and I apologize and feel very sorry for the ring card girls not to take the scorecards from the judges to show their beautiful bodies to the cheers of the crowd, but we can still have them show the number of the round”
Sulaiman however I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw so I’d find it hard to accept any new scoring system he’s all of a sudden given birth to. On initial reading this whole clicking a button for dominance sounds over complicated. One judges opinion of dominance is different to an others. Especially if they are scoring Ring Generalship and other ambiguous aspects. Maybe it’s a start, I don’t know. Just don’t trust that Sulaiman bredda lol
With regards to the whole Pacquiao vs Bradley repercussions on the sport, we have to remember these are only two fighters in a world of fighters. We will move on, judges who are confused about what they are actually scoring or even worse being handed dodgy brown envelopes will remain in the sport. Things will more than likely just remain the same. WBC look to be trying but as I said, I can’t trust them with Sulaiman at the head. We need a world wide governing body. Real reform. People have been literally taking the (life) with our sport for so long now. Makes me want to cry sometimes. lol