June 15, 2012
Open scoring in boxing, where the judges' scores are made public after they are turned in and calculated, is a brilliant idea in theory but one which frequently doesn't work well in practice.
Any time, though, there is a close or controversial decision in a fight, such as last week's welterweight bout between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas, cries for open scoring increase dramatically.
At the fighter rules meeting on Friday, Texas boxing officials informed the corners of World Boxing Council middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and challenger Andy Lee that they would adopt a modified form of open scoring for Saturday's title bout at the Sun Bowl in El Paso.
After the fourth and eighth rounds, the scores of the three judges will be given to Chavez trainer Freddie Roach and Lee trainer Emanuel Steward. They won't, however, be made public.
Open scoring has been tried on occasion in the past, but it never works as intended. The biggest issue with it is that if one fighter has won enough rounds to secure a decision, he will essentially stop fighting in the remaining rounds and only seek to avoid being knocked out.
Roach said he is against the concept because "it can change the complexion of a fight."
It's great in a fight that is scored 6-5 after 11 rounds, forcing each fighter to step it up to try to get the win by decision or the knockout. However, in Texas, that won't present itself because the fighters won't know how rounds after the eighth are scored.
When every round is announced publicly, it can also create a safety issue for the judges. If the favorite or the hometown hero is hopelessly behind, the crowd could get unruly and hurl things at the judges, or worse.
But if Texas is going to do it, it ought to go all the way and let the fans know as well as the fighters. It also ought to announce it after every round.
Hopefully, it will make the experience for the audience watching Saturday on HBO better, but it has just as much risk of failure and ruining a good fight as it does of providing a compelling finish.
Texas officials also announced that the fighters will be drug-tested prior to the bout. After Chavez' win over Marco Antonio Rubio in February, they admitted later they "forgot" to test Chavez. Someone on the Texas commission ought to tie a string around his or her finger to make certain there is no such convenient memory lapse this time around.