In football when a goal goes in you can see it, when a player crosses the line to score a try in rugby points go on the board. There’s a clear way to win, score more points.
In boxing we operate differently. We trust people who should be experts to score our fights.
We allow trained professionals to adjudicate our fights, to see which punches land, and score that appropriately according to the ‘10 point must system’ where 10 points are awarded to the winner of a round, and 9 to the loser. Further points can be deducted for knockdowns and fouls.
The expert we paid to do this last night was Terry O’Connor, but Terry O’Connor found his text messages more interesting than the fight at hand.
In a disgusting act of disrespect Mr O’Connor prioritised reading a text rather than watching the fighters in the ring. He then went on to submit a 117-111 card for a man who according to most, including Ritson‘s promoter Eddie Hearn, won three rounds, as if to prove his concentration wasn’t on the fight.
Mr O’Connor robbed Miguel Vasquez of his victory over Lewis Ritson because of his own incompetence, ineptitude and a frankly galling lack of professionalism.
Mr O’Connor is a useful scapegoat but ultimately he is a symptom of a disease that has caused many injustices.
In recent years; Smith v Ryder, Crolla v Perez, McGregor v Farooq, McKenna v Mimoune and Hedges v Ardon (to name but a few) have highlighted the lack of consistency within BBBoC officiating. Where Germany was once a subject of derision for its lopsided scorecards, now Britain, holds that distinction.
Robert Smith, director of the British Boxing Board of control has told boxing news today that he is ‘ Very, very disappointed’ in Mr O’Connor, but unfortunately, disappointment alone will not do.
We need to overhaul the entire system of judging in this country, and that starts with the permanent removal of Terry O’Connor.
With his despicable actions last night he has become the embodiment of the corruption in the system, he is the new poster boy for incompetence. Therefore his removal is the utmost importance for the respectability of the sport in this country.
This must not be the only action though. Mr O’Connors removal must be a catalyst for sweeping change.
Accountability, transparency and inclusivity must be brought into the process with creative solutions.
Judges must undergo more training in how to effectively score fights and they must be held accountable to the boxing public, via interview or written statement.
Finally we need to review the make-up of the refereeing pool. Who can become referees and who should be scoring fights. The mostly middle aged causcaion male demographic over represented in officiating is reflective of the decisions we are seeing in our sport.
Boxing is a diverse and inclusive sport and to achieve the fairest results the judging panel should reflect this. Ex boxers, trainers, women, people of colour, young and old.
We are now at a pivotal moment, and it is the duty of Robert Smith and the BBBoC to act, for the good of our sport.
This cannot be swept under the carpet.
Ewan Breeze for SimBoxx