Boxing: Vox pop - After the big fight fiasco, should boxing reform its judging system?
Sunday 21 March 1999
There should be changes, but not to the extent that it damages the sport (as in the amateur game with electronic judging). Human incompetence was responsible for the Lewis-Holyfield fight, not the scoring system. Judges are well paid and looked after. If you had a panel of stewards scrutinising them, you would keep everyone on their toes. Then, any judge who isn't up to scratch, should never judge again. That way the profession remains competitive. As for fairness, it requires fully independent judges.
LOU DI BELLA
SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT, HBO
It's easier to be a boxing judge than a London cab driver, and you actually have some very competent drivers. Judges are submitted by sanctioning bodies, and are paid by promoters, both of whom have a stake in the outcome. Judges should have nothing to do with promoters or sanctioning bodies. It is the location that should provide judges that are unbiased, qualified and measured as to their credibility and knowledge. The system, as it stands, is corruptible if not corrupt. Lennox Lewis was just the latest victim.
I can't get over the hysteria. I personally thought Lewis won it by two rounds, but things have been grossly exaggerated. The American judge was bad, I accept that. But it is not the first time we've seen bad decisions. One judge got it wrong but the other two weren't that far off. As for talk of corruption, it's simply nonsense. All judges, for the last 25 years, have had their hotels and expenses paid for by the promoters. It's nothing new. Nor has it meant every decision has been bad in the past.
WBC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION
I think everything should be looked into. There was definitely something going on, some kind of conspiracy we don't know about. It's a great outcry. I think it [the judging] was incompetent. I fail to see where Evander hit me with jabs when I was scoring with the jab all night and throwing my right hand at leisure. He had his two judges on Saturday, I'll bring my two next time. The public came to see a champion get crowned, they didn't get that. Don King should apologise to them, definitely the judges should.
SECRETARY, BRITISH BOARD
Fifa's job is to safeguard its sport so that everyone can get the benefit of it and in boxing we have to protect our sport in the best possible way. There is a need for a world regulatory body, responsible for the selection and supervision of totally neutral judges. For that to be achieved, though, there is a need for funding and top professional administrators. At the moment, I feel the three main boxing organisations [IBF, WBC, WBA] are sanctioning rather than governing bodies, and this needs to change.
Judges should have no links with promoters and should be totally impartial. It was quite obvious that Eugenia Williams was biased towards Holyfield, especially in the pivotal fifth round. In these "PC" days, you can't say that women judges aren't good enough. But let me say that I don't think they are as good as men, because it's predominantly a man's sport. In Williams' case, she was also inexperienced. Nobody should be given such a big fight until they've refereed or judged 30 to 40 world titles.
INTERVIEWS: ALEX HAYES
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