Judges Bungle Lopez-Loma Scorecards

By Robert Ecksel on October 19, 2020

Even Top Rank's Terence Crawford thought the judging sucked. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

Much was made of the fact that Saturday’s fight in Las Vegas would be on “free” TV, ESPN to be precise, with a potentially huge audience capable of tuning in. The bout was competitive. It was both tactical and action-packed. But as often happens when a fight is oversold, Teofimo Lopez vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko didn’t live up to the hype and probably won boxing few new adherents in the process. 

 

It was a fine fight. A draw after 12 rounds would have been fitting, even though it looked like Lopez edged it in the final round. But when the judges’ final scores were announced, that sinking feeling set in, the sense that something rotten is afoot in the sport, something about which few seem to care and even fewer seem willing to address. Blathering about boxing being subjective while declaring that the right man won (so let's move on) doesn't erase the inequities of the final scores.

 

Tim Cheatham’s 116-112 and Steve Weisfeld’s 117-111, where they awarded Lomachenko four rounds and three rounds, respectively, were off base. But Julie Lederman’s score of 119-109 in favor of Lopez, awarding Loma a single round, was appalling. She had the best seat in the house, but one can’t help but wonder what fight she was watching.

 

There’s little to praise when it comes to nepotism, and Lederman inadvertently reinforced that notion. Reliable as a rule, and allowing for a bad night in pandemicized times, she needs a refresher course in how scoring criteria are supposed to be applied, before embarrassing herself and boxing any further.

 

Even Terence Crawford, one of the cornerstones of Top Rank and ESPN’s boxing programming and not generally inclined to bite the hand that feeds him, also thought the judging sucked.

 

“…that was a good fight,” he tweeted, “but that score was so disrespectful.”

 

The scorecards looked as if the outcome had been predetermined, that in lieu of a knockout, the ultimate winner of the bout, who is American, younger, bigger, and stronger than his opponent, and who behaves and fights in accord with sanctioning body requirements, promoters' needs, and casuals’ expectations, was decided in advance.

 

There’s no separating judging from the rest of the sport. Whether it’s incompetence, bias, or instructions from on high, be they spoken or implicitly understood, cannot be proven until a credible insider goes public. But it's illogical to believe boxing’s consistently poor judging is an accident. If the inadequate judging was simply a matter of indifference, it would have long ago been corrected by the powers that be. But why tinker with that which leads to self-enrichment?

 

Those that feed at the trough know to keep their heads down, their mouths shut, and their opinions to themselves. After all, one has to go along to get along. Distinguishing good from bad, right from wrong, fact from fiction, truth from lies, might impinge on self-interest, which would be a pity, especially if that’s all there is.