In the immediate aftermath of the bout between Tim Bradley and Diego Chaves at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Top Rank Promotions’ Bob Arum shuffled over as quickly as one can expect an 83-year-old to do as he wanted to offer comments to the assembled media on press row after the main event was somehow ruled a draw.
“I don’t understand anymore. I mean, Julie Lederman should not be allowed to judge in this state any more, period,” he stated bluntly, referencing Lederman’s scorecard that had Chaves up by a score of 116-112. Burt Clements had Bradley ahead by the tally of 115-113 and Craig Metcalfe scored the fight dead even, 114-114.
Arum was just getting started, “That was the worst decision. I mean, I could see vaguely – and I had it eight-to-four [rounds] for Bradley – but I could see maybe, y’know, seven-five, OK, or even ‘14-’14; people see things differently. But her scorecard for Chaves was an absolute disgrace.”
The ringside consensus was Bradley, who started off strong and then faded a bit as the left side of his face became noticeably swollen due to early clashes of heads, had done more than enough to get his hands raised in victory. Most of the scribes ringside had Bradley winning in the 116-112 neighborhood.
So how did Ms. Lederman, the daughter of HBO’s Harold, get the gig all the way from New York?
“Because they let these fuckin’ Showtime guys put on a fight on the same night that we did and they don’t have enough judges. They don’t have enough referees,” said Arum, referencing the card that took place down the street, featuring a main event between Amir Khan and Devon Alexander. “But hell, they will accommodate both parties. Why? Because they do anything the fuckin’ MGM [Grand] asks them to do.”
(And yeah, it’s clear that Arum is still battling with the MGM Grand.)
“The real problem is the disparity in the scoring; that is the real problem. It makes everyone look insane,” said the veteran promoter, who was in rare form. “The real problem is that they have barely enough judges here in Nevada to go around if there’s one card.” He reiterated, “It was wrong from the get-go to allow two cards on the same night.”
But the reality is Nevada and many other states have multiple shows on the same nights. This isn’t all that unusual but Arum points out, “If there was a big show and then there’s another fight, they have ways to say no. So they judge it on what the revenue is going to be and that’s not the criteria. The criteria is how many fights you’re going to need judges for and referees.”
Perhaps the fact that the Bradley-Chaves fight was held in a relatively small venue (where the capacity is approximately 2,500) played into what Arum was referring to. The MGM Grand Garden Arena is a much bigger building but the card at the Cosmopolitan was a tripleheader broadcast on HBO. This certainly wasn’t a local club show.
That said, having two fight cards of this caliber certainly thinned the ranks of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“That’s why we also looked around the country and around the globe to see who we could bring in here to help supplement some of these open positions and that’s what we did,” said Francisco Aguilar of the NSAC at the post-fight press conference. “We took recommendations from everybody but when it comes down to it, we’re going to make the decision we want to make.”
Bradley-Chaves wasn’t the only dubious scorecard on this night. Jose Benavidez Jr. was the recipient of an unpopular decision over the hard-luck Mauricio Herrera. Aguilar said of the verdict (which had Benavidez winning by the scores of 116-112, twice, and 117-111), “Look, you have three professionals who did this all the time, look at it one way; when all of them agree and come out to the same outcome, I have to be confident in their decision. If you look at the scorecard, you’ll see that there’s six rounds out of the 12 where all three of them are on the same page and it’s hard to argue with that. In those six rounds, they had it five for Benavidez and one for Herrera.”
Aguilar pointed out the remaining six rounds where there was no unanimity caused some controversy.
“So when that occurs, that’s a split decision in a way and they’re looking at it differently. It was a tough fight to score because you had Benavidez, who’s up against the ropes; Herrera was throwing punches and the question is: What is an effective punch? And I’m going to rely on the definition of those three judges that are sitting there to determine what an effective punch is.”
As for the controversy surrounding the draw, “If you look at that, here’s an interesting stat on that fight: Metcalfe had it a draw 114-114; Julie had it 116-112 for Chaves. Ten out of those 12 rounds, those two were in agreement.”
While Aguilar is correct that most rounds have a consensus as to who won, that’s no guarantee that the right decision was made or the majority was correct. After all, it takes more than one judge to go rogue and, to be quite honest, it’s not always corruption but flat out incompetence (and it has to be said, Lederman is a respected judge with a solid track record. This isn’t “Can’t Judge” Ross here. But to give the Argentine eight rounds is mind-boggling). Yet what is maddening is, for years, the same suspects who doled out one dubious decision after another would invariably show up ringside time after time for the game’s most important events. The likes of Dalby Shirley seemed downright unimpeachable.
In other sports, officials and referees are constantly reviewed and there is constant turnover within the ranks.
With boxing, it’s business as usual.
My personal scorecard for Herrera-Benavidez was 117-111 for Herrera and I had Bradley up by the score of 116-112 from ringside.
On Sunday afternoon on Twitter, I asked what everyone’s scores were for those two bouts. The consensus was Herrera won in the 7-5, 8-4 range. While most thought Bradley won in the 8-4 vicinity.
When Arum was asked in the middle of his diatribe about the Herrera-Benavidez decision, which was roundly booed by the fans, Arum admitted with a laugh, “Well, that decision was unpopular but, again, because I was rooting, I saw Benavidez winning the fight. So I’m not unbiased in that regard.”
Hey, at least he admits it.
Couldn’t be happier to be wrong about a fight when it came to Andy Lee capturing the WBO middleweight title by stopping Matt Korobov in six. He truly is one of the best people in the business…Egidijus (Egis) Kavaliauskas is a name to look out for. This young welterweight is a natural-born puncher and I love his nickname, “The Mean Machine”…With his win on Saturday night, Denis Shafikov becomes the IBF mandatory for lightweight beltholder Mickey Bey…Randy Caballero will make the first defense of his IBF 118-pound title on Feb. 27 at the Fantasy Springs Casino…Watch out for the Seattle Seahawks; they are really coming together defensively…Have “The U Part 2” on DVR as I was at the fights on Saturday night…Don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before in my Flurries but the best part of the Cosmopolitan Hotel is its fitness center actually has two heavy bags and a boxing ring…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at http://twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at http://instagram.com/steveucnlive.