The New (Ringside) Math: Figuring Out a Better Way
By Lyle Fitzsimmons
I know it’s only Tuesday, but it’s already been a long week.
And with the lingering stupor from a day of jury duty and a sore elbow from an evening of family bowling – the soon-to-be 4-year-old was a pin short of 70 in his first trip to the lanes – I’ve got a twinge of irritation/inflammation built up as I hack away here.
Whenever I’m irritated – as anyone subject to my presence for any length of time can attest – I’m sort of a pain in the neck, with the tendency to get short and incendiary with comments and oft-times lobbing hand grenades where simple pebbles would do.
Of course, while it doesn’t exactly earn me high marks in interpersonal relations, it doesn’t always hurt in this line of work – where the hand grenade approach is usually just as warranted.
So with that disclaimer firmly in place, I’ve chosen as today’s No. 1 target anyone who does any out-loud judging of any boxing match shown on any form of broadcast television.
The Harold Ledermans of the world, to be exact… you know precisely who you are.
In all the years I’ve watched boxing – more than 30 in fact, since I sat with my dad in Grand Island, N.Y. and watched Ken Norton dispose of Duane Bobick in 58 seconds – I’ve been irked each and every time I’ve heard one of said judges describe the action of a just-completed one-sided round.
For example… “Fighter A really dominated for the whole three minutes in Round X, and, with the knockdown, he gets the extra point on the scorecard and wins it, 10-8.”
Does anyone else see the problem?
As those who’ve sat and watched a fight with me will testify, it’s within seconds after hearing the TV judge finish such a statement that I’ll clarify, pointing out that in a 10-point must system, scoring a knockdown does not earn you an extra point at all. Ten, in this case, remains 10.
Rather, it docks the fighter who was knocked down an extra point, chipping the nine he would normally have received down to eight or even seven in some extreme cases.
But no matter whether it’s Lederman, Teddy Atlas, Al Bernstein or anyone else crunching the numbers, it’s always described incorrectly, as if the winner suddenly jumped from 10 to 11 for displaying his dominance.
It drives me nuts.
So in accordance with the philosophy of coaching talent on hand rather than teaching old dogs new tricks, I’ve decided to rebuild the system around my stuck-in-cement colleagues.
Instead of an overly complex formula involving 10 points for winners and nine or less for losers, I propose going back in time to the era when winners of a normally competitive round received one point and the losers received none.
If the round is even, a scoring crutch I try to avoid at all costs, neither fighter receives a point.
Lastly, if a fighter scores a knockdown or more and truly wins a round in decisive fashion, he gets either two or three, actually earning the “extra” point(s) too often rewarded by the TV talking heads.
Such a system incorporates the best parts of both the “must” and “rounds” approaches, simultaneously giving a fighter credit for piling up individual three-minute victories, while leaving the possibility for a trailing fighter to make up points with dominant rounds down the stretch.
It also eliminates the specter of faulty math at tabulation time.
That assumes, of course, that anyone actually licensed to score a fight would be able to handle a tally sheet awarding one, two or three points per round, as opposed to the high-end calculations involved with 10s, nines, eights and sevens.
A 115-113 bout over 12 rounds would be a much more manageable 7-5 in the new era, or – in a 10-rounder where each man won five rounds, but one scored knockdowns in two rounds and the other in one – the final would be a more sensible 7-6 instead of 94-93.
And in a bout where a champion is said to have “pitched a shutout,” the actual scorecard would correspondingly read 12-0, rather than an unnecessarily hard to dissect 120-108.
Not to mention it’d make me a lot easier to deal with on TV fight nights.
As a matter of fact, on the morning after I celebrated No. 43… consider it my gift to you.
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
IBF middleweight title – Hobart, Australia
Daniel Geale (champion) vs. Osumanu Adama (No. 1 contender)
Geale (26-1, 15 KO): Second title defense; Held IBO title at 160 (2007-08, one defense)
Adama (20-2, 15 KO): First title fight; Eighth fight outside Ghana (5-2, 2 KO)
Fitzbitz says: “Two-time belt-holder is a rising star at middleweight.” Geale by decision
IBF featherweight title – Hobart, Australia
Billy Dib (champion) vs. Eduardo Escobedo (No. 3 contender)
Dib (33-1, 20 KO): Second title defense; Held IBO title at 130 (2008, no defenses)
Escobedo (32-3, 23 KO): Second title fight (0-1); Unbeaten since 2007 (11-0, 8 KO)
Fitzbitz says: “Hometown advantage should be enough for new champ.” Dib by decision
WBO featherweight title – San Juan, Puerto Rico
Orlando Salido (champion) vs. Juan Manuel Lopez (No. 1 contender)
Salido (37-11-2, 25 KO): Second title defense; Won title from Lopez in 2011 (TKO 8)
Lopez (31-1, 28 KO): Eleventh title fight (9-1); Last four wins by stoppage (19 title rounds)
Fitzbitz says: “Puerto Rican superstar gets another crack at pound-for-pound list.” Lopez in 10
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA “world championships” are only included if no “super champion” exists in the weight class.
Last week's picks: 3-1
Overall picks record: 288-97 (74.8 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.