Question Canelo Alvarez, as ringside media failed to do Saturday night. Do you favor open scoring in a championship fight? He would not care. Going into the 12th round of his super welterweight championship fight Saturday night against Austin Trout, he knew the fight was his.
The scorecards of three judges at ringside were announced after the fourth round to the public. The fighters, corners, and fans at the Alamodome in San Antonio Texas all knew. The only way Trout unifies the 154-pound titles is with a knockout.
So, this open scoring system used as a so-called experiment by the World Boxing Council, and approved by the host state athletic governing body of a state, again took the suspense away from a championship fight going the distance.
Used to deter controversy, via the decision route, and ironic because recent controversial decisions have been held in the state of Texas, boxing was made for going to the scorecards and not open scoring Yet, after 12-rounds Saturday night, there was no more suspense.
Alvarez was clearly the winner, with two judges openly having a wide disparity in the scoring for the new and unified champion at 154-pounds. And a national television audience viewing on Showtime, also was confused. Calling the fight at ringside, the commentating team also had different scores. “Old School” Steve Farhood had the fight even more than once.
So where does this open scoring system go from here, and why does the WBC have discretion as to when and where the system is implemented? That question, as is so often the case in boxing, remains to be addressed.
For years, the WBC, a main sanctioning organization of the sport has dictated many of the rules. The once and interesting 15-round championship fights went the 12-round limit. The WBC advocated that change for safety of the fighter, after tragic endings resulted in severe injuries and the untimely death of a fighter.
The cause of death or severe injury was said to be, because of too many rounds and hits to the head. Limiting rounds to championship fights would deter a fatal injury or trauma to the head, though as boxing history says, 12-rounds as compared to 15 has changed the direction, or result of a fight via knockout or decision.
Yes, safety of the fighters is a priority. Excitement and suspense of three more rounds made the sport that more interesting. No question, the WBC and other sanctioning organizations got this one correct. There have been minimal complaints since boxing went to the 12-round distance in March of 1983, a heavyweight title fight with Larry Holmes and Lucien Rodriguez.
But, this has no similarity to open scoring, especially when it comes to televised fights. There had been a contention that the 12-round fight was implemented because televised boxing had a time limit and 15-rounds would not meet time for the networks and their lineup of programming.
The opening scoring system has that disadvantage, most importantly the suspense of a close fight that should be in the balance of three capable judges at ringside. The problem with boxing, and a probable explanation of the open system is, boxing does not have capable judges at ringside.
While the WBC will not comment about the discretion of judges at ringside, it has always been their claim that the sport needs better judges at ringside, and that has been heard more when controversial decisions are rendered.
However, one reputable and veteran judge, not named because of his affiliation with the WBC, said to this writer, “When you have capable judges and when the right training sessions are conducted for judges, who needs open scoring?”
He added, and no argument here, that one fighter knows he is ahead on the cards and takes it easy the final few rounds. The fighter trailing on the cards and the corner are aware, the only way to win is the knockout. Can the boxing networks be content that the fight is over and the channel has been changed by the viewing public?
Fans that pay good money have no say in this matter. They want an improved scoring system, decisions that are proper, and the question of who is “winning the fight” is no longer in doubt when open scoring is used in an arena. Most of all, why an open scoring system on a sporadic basis?
After all, consistency of judges’ cards is hardly the case.
E-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com