By Boxing Bob Newman
Photos: Bob Newman
Day 3 of the 48th NABF convention saw the final working session in the form of the judging seminar conducted Sunday morning by veteran judge Steve Weisfeld and in the afternoon, delegates who were die hard enough to brave the sweltering heat took in the Washington Nationals-Atlanta Braves baseball game.
Weisfeld initially focused on what are perceived to be “bad decisions.” “A lot of bad decisions aren’t bad but people might think they’re bad because of the dominance of the media.” Weisfeld did admit that there are a few bad decisions and in order to improve, it must be ascertained why a decision is bad and what can be improved. “Do we have to improve knowledge of the rules? Do we have to improve concentration? If that’s the case, then we have to improve ourselves.” Weisfeld feels that because of seminars and communication, judging is better now than it has ever been.
One of the key tenets in boxing on which judging is based is cleaning punching. Weisfeld quizzed the assembled judges on “When a cleanly landed punch does not count.” The answer is when it is landed during the course of a foul- during a break, after the bell, when one fighter is down on the canvas, when a boxer is holding and hitting, etc.
Weisfeld handed out some language changes to the unified rules which were recently updated in the last two weeks at the ABC meeting. One change concerned when a fighter is knocked out of the ring onto the floor- having 20 seconds to get back into the ring. It had been asked often, “What if the fighter lands on a table, or a chair or the lap of a judge or commission member?” Now the rule is clearer: Anywhere off the ring apron earns the fallen fighter 20 seconds. If the fighter goes through the ropes, but is still on the ring apron, he has only 10 seconds to get up.
There was also clarification on the scoring of a bout in the event of an unintentional foul forcing the bout to be stopped and going to the score cards. Previous language stated, “If after an unintentional foul is committed, a bout is allowed to continue but is stopped in a later round…” Under that language, the foul could’ve been committed in round 1, meaning a later round is round 2 or 3, when the bout is stopped. It is now clarified that the stoppage in a later round must be after four rounds have been completed.
Weisfeld talked about dominance or lack thereof in individual rounds by one fighter over another. “Is it a close round, a moderate round, a decisive round or an extreme decisive round.” Weisfeld had the judges give examples of each type of round- whether little separated the fighters in terms of action, punches thrown, etc., or if one fighter is punching the other from ‘pillar to post,’ to use old boxing parlance. In an extreme decisive round, there has been much talk about scoring a 10-8 round where no knockdown has occurred. The fifth round of Kovalev-Pascal II was cited as one such example. Situations where a fighter gets knocked down, but in the rest of the round, he (or she) was winning, even dominantly so. Would that dominance in the rest of the round bring the scoring back from a 10-8 round in favor of the fighter scoring the knockdown, to only a 10-9 in favor of the fighter scoring the knockdown? It is still quite subjective.
Weisfeld discussed the number of punches, the impact of a punch and the effectiveness of a punch and how that all needs to be taken into consideration. For example, on effective punching- If a fighter hits his opponent with his hardest shot and it has seemingly no effect, but the opponent throws and lands a jab that sends the power punching fighter staggering backwards, thereby having an effect, who wins the round? Weisfeld feels it’s the fighter who landed the effective jab. Nonverbal communication between fighters in a bout needs to be observed by the judge.
Practice is important for judges. Practice scoring fights at home (preferably with the sound lowered so as not to be influenced by commentary). Weisfeld also talked about setting high standards. “The opposite of a professional judge is an unprofessional judge. DDSS- Don’t do stupid stuff,” warned Weisfeld. “You can be an excellent judge, but you’ll be remembered for the stupid stuff you do.” An example of things not to do: “The final bell rings ending the fight and the judge(s) immediately leave their seat to get out of there, to mingle with fans, etc. It looks bad for the commission to have three empty chairs before a score is even read. Stay in your judge chairs until the decision is read.” Weisfeld also talked about what he calls the, “Lazy Last Round.” Weisfeld cited a study where 57% of last rounds are split. “Why is that?” Weisfeld asked. “One guy already won the fight, it doesn’t matter how I have it.” “When is the next train out of here?” “9-3, 8-4, what’s the difference?” The judge could be fatigued. All are viable, but unacceptable excuses for poor scoring in a last round.
Before leaving the judges seminar, all judges signed and turned in a “code of ethics” form, pledging ethical conduct in their capacity as professional boxing judges.
With temperatures surpassing the 100° mark in the nation’s capital, a brave throng boarded the bus to the Washington-Atlanta baseball game where the Nationals routed the Braves 9-1. Anthony Rendon jacked a three-run homer in the fifth to put the Nationals up 7-1. If this were a boxing match, it would’ve been a TKO5 for Washington!
With that, the NABF ended it’s convention, the evening free for delegates to dine in any of the area’s amazing restaurants, see historical cites or just try and stay cool in the sweltering heat, until next year’s gathering, where ever and whenever that may be.