By: Sean Crose
If you saw Saturday’s Jermel Charlo-Brian Castano fight, you knew right away something was wrong when the decision was read. The fight was a brilliant, back and forth affair. Most on social media seemed to feel that Castano edged it, but frankly it wouldn’t have been outrageous to say Charlo had pulled it off. Ultimately, the fight was ruled a draw, which was fair. What was most distinctly not fair was the 117-111 score in favor of Charlo submitted by judge Nelson Vazquez. It’s wrong to call out Vazquez as a corrupt, or even incompetent, official without solid evidence to back those assertions up with, but when a score is as far removed from the reality of a fight as Vasquez’ was, the matter should be called out and looked into.
Yet, as bad as his score was, what Vazquez did isn’t unforgiveable. It was outrageous. It needs to be examined. But it wasn’t unforgiveable. What it was, really, was a look at how modern boxing works, and possibly at how outside pressure likely leads to so many bad decisions. And, let’s face it, boxing is LOADED with bad decisions. It always has been, but the past ten years or so have given us some doozies. The important thing to keep in mind is there seems to be two enormous PR issues at work here: a lack of confidence on the part of officials, and boxing’s history of corruption.
First, the issue of confidence. Boxing is not the sport for insecurity. Whether it’s a fighter, an official, a corner person, or a ring doctor, confidence in one’s ability is essential. Peer pressure is a terrible thing, after all, and it’s particularly acute when thousands of fans, along with state officials, promoters and networks, are pretty clearly hoping for one guy to win. No one likes to be on the outs. Accepting a judgeship for a fight however, has several responsibilities attached – and one is to view things as objectively as possible. The truth is that far too often, for whatever reason, judges simply don’t deliver.
All of this leads to the second issue that impacts boxing – its history of corruption. Boxing’s reputation has been harmed in the past by examples of fairness being put on the back burner. No outright corruption may have been at work on Saturday night – and, in truth, there probably wasn’t any – but when you couple boxing’s corrupt past with the off the wall scorecards of the present people are going to wonder. And that’s a shame. What’s more shameful, though, are scorecards that have no basis in reality. No matter how or why these scorecards are written up, they place the sport in a bad light.