LAS VEGAS -- This is a story without a happy ending, even though the proper outcome occurred.
C.J. Ross, the veteran boxing judge who ignited a firestorm of controversy with her 114-114 scorecard Saturday in the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez super welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden, opted Tuesday to take a leave of absence and may have officiated her final fight.
The overwhelming consensus of boxing fans, media, boxers, promoters, managers, trainers and matchmakers was that Mayweather had won by a wide margin. Ross not only had it a draw, but she gave Alvarez four of the last five rounds. The furor over her scorecard was increased because she was one of the judges who scored the June 9, 2012, bout between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley for Bradley. Most felt Pacquiao had easily won that match.
Ross defended her decision in comments to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sunday, but on Tuesday, she'd had enough. She was scheduled to meet with Bill Brady, the chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission, to discuss her scorecard. Instead, she asked for a leave of absence. It would be no surprise to veteran boxing people in the state if it comes out that Gov. Brian Sandoval got involved in an attempt to quell the controversy.
She told KLAS-TV reporter Chris Maathuis she is not sure if she'll apply for reinstatement.
Ross, 64, has been judging for 22 years. She clearly made the right decision to step away, because nearly all of the post-fight focus had been on her rather than on Mayweather's brilliant performance. Keith Kizer, the executive director of the Nevada commission and the man who on Sept. 4 appointed her to judge the Mayweather-Alvarez fight, praised her decision to step aside to KLAS.
To her credit, she does not want to take away from the story, being what a dominant performance by Floyd Mayweather. So, she has asked us if she can take some time off, [and] we've agreed. It shows the type of person she is. Bill was very understanding and supportive. He agreed that that was a great avenue to take.
Had she been appointed to any fight of note after the Pacquiao-Bradley and Mayweather-Alvarez controversy, she would have been a lightning rod and suspicions would have been aroused simply by her presence.
As the Los Angeles Times reported, she'd been on the wrong side in a majority decision before even the Pacquiao-Bradley fight. She scored the Abner Mares-Joseph Agbeko fight 113-113, though the other two judges had it 115-111.
There was outrage throughout the boxing world over her scorecard, so there was no way for her to continue and have any credibility. Managers would have fought against having her appointment, and every fight she worked would have been subject to intense scrutiny.
But Ross' departure doesn't mean the judging situation is suddenly perfect. Nevada hosts a majority of the major fights and needs to infuse its judging ranks with quality officials. Several elite judges have already left the commission and others are aging.
Kizer and Brady need to seek quality judges from outside Nevada who might want to move to the state to be able to regularly work big fights. Nevada recruited referee Joe Cortez from New Jersey that way more than 20 years ago and Cortez's addition gave the state a deep and talented pool of referees.
But Nevada, and all states, needs to work to develop new, young judges from the amateur program. A lot of that is going on, but more emphasis needs to be spent on recruiting and training new judges.