The California State Athletic Commission did the right thing on Monday when it overturned the official decision in the Timothy Bradley-Nate Campbell bout that was held on Aug. 1 in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and ruled it a no-decision.
Bradley originally was awarded a third-round technical knockout when Campbell said he could not see as the result of a cut by his eye. Referee David Mendoza stopped the bout and said that while he saw the butt, he didn't see the blood until after a punch that landed later.
The commission on Monday ruled correctly that it should have been called a no-decision.
But this rule is one that needs to be rewritten, because veteran boxers like Campbell are clearly trying to take advantage of it. This is something that the Association of Boxing Commissions should examine as quickly as possible.
If a fight does not go four full rounds and is stopped because of a cut caused by an accidental head butt, it is a no-decision. If it goes beyond four rounds and then is stopped, the fight goes to the scorecards.
There are two problems with that. First, if a fighter is cut by an inadvertent head butt and is bleeding for several rounds, it may impact his or her performance. And so, while the cut may not be bad enough in Rounds 1 through 4 to stop it, it could be enough to hinder performance and cause a fighter to lose rounds on the scorecard he or she may have otherwise won.
As a result, when the scores are added later, if the fight is stopped because of the cut after the fourth, that fighter could wind up losing a fight because of the impact of an illegal blow. That's not right.
But an even bigger problem is what occurred Aug. 1 in the Bradley-Campbell fight. Anyone who saw the fight realizes it was an inadvertent head butt that caused the cut.
Campbell, though, was clearly looking for the fight to be stopped. Bradley was in charge of the fight to that point. Campbell is a wily veteran who knew that if he said he couldn't see, the fight would not be allowed to continue.
Fighters use that to try to get a second shot when they realize they're not performing as expecting. Campbell seemed to be fighting far below his normal form at the time of the stoppage and may – and I say may because no one can read his mind – have opted to get out of the fight, regroup, and try to get it back another time.
Safety is the utmost priority, and no one wants a fighter who can not see to be forced to continue to fight. But the rule allows a boxer to manipulate the system.
The right thing was done Monday, but the rule needs to be reevaluated to prevent cut but still alert fighters from gaming the system.
Before we delve into the mailbag and I respond to your questions and comments, I'd like to remind you to follow me on Twitter. You can send me questions for the mailbag there or just choose to talk some boxing.
Fact: Boxing is all done! I, a boxing fanatic, will never watch another bout. How can Oscar "King" De La Hoya look himself in the mirror after what happened on Saturday in the Juan Diaz-Paulie Malignaggi fight? There should be an investigation.
I place the blame for much of this on Dickie Cole, the head of the Texas commission. He could have averted this long before Malignaggi spoke a word on the topic. He should try not only to avoid impropriety but the appearance of impropriety. Why appoint a judge who is being called a "Golden Boy gopher," when there are so many judges that could have been appointed that that could not be said about? That's where the problem began and fingers should be pointed at Cole for handling this poorly.
Kevin, good column on Diaz/Paulie. The key here is to make public the scores after every round, but don't attribute the scores to a particular judge. Inexplicably, HBO announcer Jim Lampley is against this, but this is the only way to shine a light on this issue and to keep guys from getting robbed. I'm not a huge Paulie fan, but, at least if Paulie was going to get robbed, if the scores had been made public after each round, he could have tried to do something about it. I cannot think of a single sport in which the contestants don't know where they stand at all times, except MMA and that is a boxing offshoot.
Chula Vista, Calif.
What you propose is called open scoring and, honestly, while it sounds good at first glance, it's a disaster. Take Saturday's fight. Diaz came out hard in the 12th and made a spirited effort in an attempt to win. He thought the fight was close. As it turned out, he didn't need the 12th to win. He had known the scores, he would have run from Malignaggi and deprived the fans of a good round. Oktay Urkal actually quit in a fight against Miguel Cotto a few years ago when he realized how far behind he was. The World Boxing Council uses it in fights outside the U.S. and it's an unmitigated disaster (as is most everything the WBC does).
You seem to object to the idea that in boxing "unless you play ball you're not going to get a fair shake." Fair enough, but why act like this is something new that only now has to be addressed? Surely you can't have forgotten that this has been characteristic of boxing for many years. And those who try to do it their own way, after having had some success in the system, must be super-talented and charismatic in order to succeed. In the case of De La Hoya, he then became the very establishment he tried to make an end run around. Ever hear the phrase "there's nothing new under the sun?"
Are you suggesting that because this has been going on for so long we shouldn't be outraged and shouldn't try to fix the situation? Yes, I'm aware this very scenario played out thousands of times before in boxing. But this fight was on national television and one of the participants actually predicted before the bout what would occur.
While the fight seemed unfair on the surface, people should remember that Paulie was overly vocal about this before the fight and it no doubt made people susceptible to drawing such a conclusion when watching the fight. Judges in the past have been shown to mark boxers down who flee and avoid fighting. Oscar was punished in the Felix Trinidad fight for "running away" the last two rounds. Like it or not, people watch boxing with the hopes of seeing a knockout, not a dancing display or a game of tag. Even without a knockout, a fight can be entertaining. However, the "Magic Man" is just not entertaining. He has a bad attitude (even before this fight) and he has never been able to gain a following. Knockout artists gain a following and that is a fact. You can't fault Golden Boy for that. There was no doubt that Malignaggi touched Diaz more often but Diaz was the only one landing power punches (even though he lacks some power as well.) Diaz actively pursued Malignaggi the whole fight and that is why the judges scored it the way they did. 118-110? That was absurd but should not nullify the remaining scores. Diaz did win a very close fight.
Marina Del Rey, Calif.
Hank, Malignaggi shouldn't be punished for not having power or because you don't find his style entertaining. And he didn't run, certainly not like Oscar did in the final three rounds against Trinidad. I was ringside for that fight (Can it really be 10 years now?) and Oscar didn't attempt to throw a punch. He thought he was up and he was circling to avoid contact, which is what would happen if open scoring prevailed. Malignaggi was using his lateral movement and boxing skills. He was constantly punching. There's a big difference. I think Malignaggi pulled it out, but I'll concede Diaz could have won. My objection is the margin and the suggestion that having the powerful promoter on one's side seems to skew the playing field.
I'm a true boxing fan going back to Ali. Why would I continue to waste my time watching boxing where Paulie Malignaggi works his butt off and then gets robbed? A lot of fans like myself are going to go to mixed martial arts, where the judges and promoters can't influence the outcome nearly as much.
I'd say you should watch when the promoters give you compelling matches and you know you're going to be entertained. And while many fans have made similar comments about MMA, the judging is equally horrendous there, believe me. One of the big differences is that there are far more early finishes in MMA than there are in boxing.
I was watching the Diaz-Malignaggi fight and I had it 115-113 for Diaz because of how much more aggressive he was. It was a close fight. However, don't expect me to shed many tears for Paulie. A guy who has won 26 fights, only five of which are knockouts, and knowingly going into a situation where he knows he doesn't have any advantage whatsoever, should have a plan to combat that inequity. If he knows that this is Diaz's hometown, and he feels the judges are going to be biased for Diaz, then the game plan should have been simple: Remove any influence by the judges by knocking Diaz out. The judges could have been Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins for all I care. Had Paulie gone into the fight planning to knock out Diaz instead of boxing him and leaving it up to the judges, the judges wouldn't have mattered. I understand that Paulie has the power "of a squirt gun" (as you put it, brilliantly by the way) but his plan should not have been to box. His plan should have been to knock out Diaz.
Danny, Paulie had no ability to knock Diaz out. And so do we want to start taking a fighter's gifts away and tell him how he must box? If you have umpires who won't call curves or sliders strikes, should we tell him he should just rely upon his fastball exclusively? No. An athletic contest should have a level playing field under the rules. I agree Malignaggi would have been better off going for a knockout, but he doesn't have that kind of power. Part of why some people find him entertaining is that it's like he's bear hunting with a pen knife. He doesn't have much of a weapon, but he's in there giving it his best.