Bradley: My frustrations with recent bad scorecards in boxing

Timothy Bradley Jr., a former two division champion, member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and current ESPN boxing analyst, was a special guest at the North American Boxing Federation’s 53rd Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida, this past weekend and delivered a speech about his frustrations with recent bad scoring decisions in boxing. Here’s a transcript of Bradley’s speech, outlining his concerns and offering some suggestions for how to fix some of the problems.

“It’s boxing.”

The media and the fans say after another unforgiving bad decision. Shortly after the last bell rings. Ding-ding. The wrong fighter gets its hand raised.

Thirty-six minutes is all it seemed, but it’s been a lifetime. A lifelong dream full of pain.

Blood dripping down their faces like it’s a natural thing. Sweat filled with a hard reason to fight. All due to hard work and sacrifice to fight with all their might.

To you, it’s just another day at the office…. Suit-tie-dressed to impress.

It’s Saturday night, and you’re wearing your Sunday best.

The crowd in the arena roars in frustration, “booooooo, boooooo.” Social media Twitter feeds in every location, disgusted by the pencil whipping. Or, should I say, the pen skimming to another foul play A-side tradition.

It’s boxing is all I hear.

But it’s not the answer. Nor is it the cure to fix this chronic disease that overshadows the sports. The pain it causes to the modern-day gladiators who put their lives on the line for their families, it needs to be seen. It needs to be seen by you… And the fans.

A promise made from the fighter’s mouth to their children’s ears that trickles down into their little honest hearts gets broken. Like the most recent promises made by Maxi Hughes, Jack Catterall, Sandor Martin, and even Gennadiy Golovin against Canelo Alvarez back in their rematch in 2018.

It’s boxing.

And the chaos continues. Year-after-year-after year.

So, who bears the blame? The State athletic commissions? The judges? The referees? Or perhaps the sanctioning bodies or the promoters? Could it be the media or maybe the network commentary? Even I could be the one to blame.

“We should focus on improving transparency and accountability with regular evaluations and training. All judges’ performances need to be evaluated to identify any mistakes, biases or inconsistencies.”

Timothy Bradley Jr.

I pose the question again: who’s at fault? The truth is that we all share in this guilt. We echo the same excuses, the same pathetic shrugs, whispering to ourselves, “Oh well, it will pass.” We stand idle, choosing inaction over change. Isn’t it said that insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different outcomes? It’s time for a shift, a transformation, a reform. Let’s restore integrity to the game of boxing for the sake of our names, and for the fighters who lay their life on the line so we all can be entertained.

We hold fighters accountable, don’t we? When they test positive for banned substances, we levy fines and mandate suspensions and penalties. When they tip the scales too heavily, we criticize them for not shedding those extra pounds. It may seem minor to some, a mere pound here or there, but for others, it’s a matter of life or death. Yet, I digress a little from my original take. But the main point is that our system is not devoid of fairness.

Now, ponder this: If judge “A”, judge “B” and judge “C” can repeatedly score fights, miss the mark on numerous rounds, and still go home with a clean slate, why is it that a fighter gives everything, performs flawlessly, yet goes home with a loss? And why do these judges move on to their next assignment as if they carry no-fault?

This is our problem, our challenge. It’s not just about pointing fingers; it’s about seeking solutions. It’s about acknowledging that our beloved sport deserves better, that our fighters deserve better. It’s about holding ourselves accountable, just as we keep our fighters. It’s about stepping up, making a change, and restoring the integrity we seem to have lost. Our actions today will define the future of boxing. Let’s figure out a solution that we can be proud of because the excuse “it’s boxing” sure as hell is not one.

Let’s start somewhere

We should focus on improving transparency and accountability with regular evaluations and training. All judges’ performances need to be evaluated to identify any mistakes, biases or inconsistencies. Training programs should be implemented and updated to inform judges about different boxing techniques and strategies. Re-training programs can help address any shortcomings identified during evaluations.

When judges consistently underperform or provide controversial scorecards, disciplinary actions should be taken. This could involve added training suspensions, or removal from judging panels, if needed. Holding judges accountable for their actions is essential to maintain the integrity of the sport.

We can also implement a Consensus-Based Scoring system. I’m suggesting having four judges instead of three, with a majority win requirement for each round. This could help mitigate potential biases and controversial decisions. If two judges score a round for one fighter and two for the other, it would be considered a draw round rather than favoring one fighter.

And how about real-time open scoring? Displaying scores on the broadcast after each round would increase transparency and engage the audience. Providing real-time updates on the scores can generate discussions and make the judging process more understandable to viewers.

Lastly, I would like to spotlight the judges, referees and commissioners to shed light on the experience and expertise of judges and referees. This can help educate the audience about their roles and responsibilities. This can include interviews, analysis, and discussions about their decision-making process, which may help dispel misconceptions and humanize these officials.

Overall, regular evaluation and training, consensus-based scoring, real-time scoring updates, and increased public awareness about judges and referees can contribute to a fairer and more transparent judging process in boxing.

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