Boxing
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Boxing Editor - Archive - Email
Crunching the Numbers: Give Writers the Nod
How about leaving the sport's fate in the hands of those with a vested interest in its health.
Ocala, FL (Sports Network) - Another big fight. Another big disaster.

And while nearly two weeks have passed since the Bradley-Pacquiao decision that many went far and wide to label a "robbery" -- though I only had it 7-5 for Manny and thought the Marquez III call a few months ago was far worse -- precious little has been done to ensure it won't happen again.

In spite of promoters being ashamed, writers being indignant and Congressmen taking it upon themselves to sanitize a perpetually sordid sport, I haven't seen anything of particular merit suggested since a clearly crestfallen Jim Lampley signed off from the MGM Grand.

In fact, the more days pass...the more it seems no one still cares.

The WBO has said it can't reverse the result, playing the "good and honest judges" card when referring to Duane Ford and CJ Ross, whose 115-113 nods to the new champion sparked the firestorm.

Bob Arum has moved far enough past slack-jawed fight-night disgust to label the PPV numbers a success, and pick new and different fights with Golden Boy over late-summer calendar conflicts.

And Pacquiao himself is going on vacation with the no longer traumatized wife and kids, who'll no doubt be happy to heal by helping to spend the $26 million he was guaranteed to rake in -- win, lose or draw.

Not exactly the follow-up momentum needed to stem a relevance hemorrhage that's made SportsCenter a "boxing-free" zone, unless it's pithily accompanied by "another black eye for..."

But with past as prologue, it's pretty much par for the course.

Regardless of the pursuit -- big-time sports or otherwise -- an event that's widely viewed as a catastrophe almost always prompts instant chatter on how to avoid a reprisal.

A contentious election yields a wave of voting reform. A speedway accident yields a wave of safety measures. And an environmental crisis yields a wave of regulation.

Boxing, it seems...is only a little bit different.

While the sweet science can contend with anything when it comes to post- apocalyptic righteousness, it differs in the practical sense because too few of the aftermath ideas seem to have staying power past the end of the next news cycle.

Already, in fact, yesterday's calls for Congressional review, national oversight and fine-tooth combed decisions have become today's promotional scheduling catfight, debate over summertime jail quarters and teary memoriam for a drug-addled ex-champion.

And somehow, the barely relevant beat goes on.

Further and further from the coveted mainstream.

And while everyone involved is keenly aware of lingering problems, the opinion-shaping sidelines are perpetually long on fault-finding keyboard jockeys -- and woefully short on anyone willing to actually proffer long-term cures for respect-sapping ills.

So...into that breach, I humbly step with this nugget.

To offset the chances of three more judges turning in three more scorecards that turn Harold Lederman's stomach while turning the sport on its ear, here's a suggestion that takes the pencils and pads out of their hands -- and gives them to folks far more accustomed to widespread criticism.

Yes, you guessed it...the media.

Rather than state commissions plucking moonlighting district attorneys and insurance executives to decide the course of super-fight history, how about a panel of five media members -- chosen at random from press row at a given event -- to turn in the night's official scores?

It makes good sense in all sorts of ways. Most of the elite writers who cover boxing have been doing it for a lot of years, which means they've probably seen as many fights -- large, small and otherwise -- as all but a sliver of the sales managers and small-time CEOs with the cushy ringside stools.

Because they wouldn't be named in advance or known to either camp, it'd be much more difficult to concoct conspiracy theories that often follow bad verdicts. So they wouldn't be swept up in the "the promoter must've got to them" nonsense that comes after the most egregious fights.

And if worse came to worse, with five scorecards instead of three, there'd be more opportunity to override one rogue who insisted a wide loser had in fact administered "a boxing lesson."

Need more evidence?

Look no further than the media poll circulated in the wake of Bradley- Pacquiao.

No fewer than 50 of 53 writers had Pacquiao decisively ahead -- with all but four of the 50 seeing a margin of four points or greater, and seven of 50 giving Bradley no more than a round.

Quibble about the margins if you'd like...but in their collective eyes, the right guy won.

And isn't that really all that matters?

While you're at it, think back on other bad decisions of both recent and long- term vintage and recall how often the scribe consensus had it correct. In fact, it's much harder to recall a fight where the public said, "You know what, the judges nailed it and the media was way off."

Here's a hint, it doesn't happen that way, folks.

The writers get it right.

So with that reality in mind, here's a plea from a midweek columnist with a 100,000-mile car and 27 years left on his mortgage to his devoted readers among the sport's omnipotent powers.

Instead of simply prolonging the problems with Band-Aid solutions like temporary judge suspensions -- or taking away signature suspense with misguided fixes like open scoring -- how about taking a bolder step by leaving the sport's fate in the hands of those with a vested interest in its health.

Take a look around...you could hardly do much worse.

This week's title-fight schedule:

No fights scheduled.

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full- fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. For example, fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Last week's picks: 2-0

Overall picks record: 408-139 (74.5 percent)



Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.

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