Questionable scoring once again steals the show

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

LAS VEGAS – It happens in courtrooms across the country every day. Two people witness the same event but their testimony is 180 degrees the opposite.

And that's how it was on Saturday at The Cosmopolitan in a pair of nationally televised boxing matches.

In the first one, Jose Benavidez lifted the interim WBA super lightweight title from Mauricio Herrera by a wide margin in a bout that nearly all of the veteran boxing writers at ringside scored for Herrera by a wide margin.

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'It was bad, bad, bad judging tonight,' welterweight Timothy Bradley said. (USA TODAY Sports)
'It was bad, bad, bad judging tonight,' welterweight Timothy Bradley said. (USA TODAY Sports)

And then in the main event, Timothy Bradley had to suffer for a less-than-satisfying split draw in a bout that, again, most journalists felt Bradley had won going away.

Judge Julie Lederman scored it 116-112 for Chaves, giving the Argentine the final four rounds and six of the final seven. Burt Clements scored it 115-113 for Bradley, while Craig Metcalfe gave the final four rounds to Chaves to finish with a 114-114 score.

Yahoo Sports scored it 117-111 for Bradley, giving Chaves Rounds 6, 10 and 11. Most other journalists scored the fight for Bradley, by similar or wider margins.

Bradley fought the final two-thirds of the fight with his left eye badly swollen, the result of an early head butt. He didn't attend the post-fight news conference so he could go to a local hospital and get the injury X-rayed.

But he talked at length to Yahoo Sports in the locker room and Bradley was perplexed by the outcome.

"Honestly, dude, I won that fight easily," Bradley said softly as he leaned back in a folding chair while holding an ice pack to his face. "I won that easily. Worst-case scenario, it was eight rounds to four. I'm serious man. This is rough.

"I boxed well. I made him miss. I made him pay. He landed some good shots on me, but I countered. I countered him a lot in the fight. It was easy work. It was bad, bad, bad judging tonight. It wasn't good. Not good at all."

There were two major shows in town. In addition to the Bradley-Chaves card that was televised by HBO, Showtime broadcast Amir Khan's wipeout of Devon Alexander from the MGM Grand down the street.

Bradley promoter Bob Arum was incensed by the judging and blamed it on the pool being thinned by the two cards going on at the same time. However, Francisco Aguilar, the chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission, said quality judges from outside the state were brought in to work the show specifically to widen the talent pool of officials.

Arum blamed the management at the MGM Grand for putting a card on opposite his previously announced show. He also blasted Lederman and said she should never be allowed to work in Nevada again.

"Her scorecard for Chaves is an absolute disgrace," Arum said. "[She was appointed] because they let these [expletive] Showtime guys put a fight on the same night that we did it. They don't have enough judges. They don't have enough referees. They want to accommodate both parties. Why? Because they'll do anything the [expletive] MGM asks them to do."

One of the reasons that Aguilar was re-elected for a second term as chairman of the commission is that he is open-minded, accountable and willing to listen to all sides of an argument.

He attended the post-fight news conference along with commissioner Anthony Marnell and patiently tried to explain the judges' thinking.

Jose Benavidez (R) lands a right against Mauricio Herrera during Benavidez's controversial victory. (Top Rank)
Jose Benavidez (R) lands a right against Mauricio Herrera during Benavidez's controversial victory. (Top Rank)

He said that the judges in the Herrera-Benavidez fight felt that Herrera's body punches weren't landing well or with much impact, the same point that Benavidez himself made.

Aguilar called it "a tough night," but disagreed with Arum's contention that the commission should not have allowed the fight at the MGM.

"We've all recognized where Nevada is as far as its officials are concerned, and those we do have are strong," Aguilar said. "We are confident in them and they're my guys; our guys. We wouldn't put them out there if we weren't confident in their abilities. We've gone through training. [Executive director] Bob [Bennett] is meticulous on how he chooses these officials and he understands them more than anybody.

"He goes to great depths to ensure we have the right Nevada officials where they need to be. Having two fights in one night makes it tougher on us, yeah. But is that an excuse? No. I'm not making excuses for tonight."

Bradley trainer Joel Diaz said he felt Bradley was "dominating round by round." But he said he couldn't understand how Chaves won more than three rounds and said one of the reasons for boxing's decline in popularity is because of judging issues like the ones on display Saturday.

Moretti has long been one of the great officials in the sport and has been an honest, upstanding man. Lederman is arguably a top-five judge in boxing now, but both of them scored the fights completely opposite of the way most people saw them.

Angry fans wanted to insist the judges are somehow on the take or otherwise unduly influenced, but most likely they're simply scoring the rounds the way they see them.

The Bradley-Chaves bout was a rough and rugged fight with head butts, low blows and a ton of in-fighting. It wasn't an easy fight to score and there were rounds that could have gone either way.

Neither Bradley nor Herrera can understand that, and that's to be expected after they trained so hard for so long. They deprived themselves of time with their families and from what they want to eat so they could be in the best shape possible.

"It's not fair, man," Bradley said with a grimace. "It's not fair. What else could I do? I landed some good shots. I was boxing him beautifully. I was making him miss and when he missed, I was landing some sweet counters. How can you explain this? I just can't understand how anyone who saw that fight could not walk away thinking I'd won that. I don't get it."

Nor did a lot of boxing fans and media, but it's not going to change.

People often see the same thing differently.

Most, though, saw it the same way. It was only three people in each of the two bouts who saw it differently.

But in the end, they were the only ones whose opinion mattered.

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