By Jake Donovan
There are several items from last weekend’s middleweight fight between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Marco Antonio Rubio in which the end results were met with mixed reviews.
Given the number of controversies that continue to swirl around the events from the show in San Antonio, one matter which managed to fly way under the radar was the use of open scoring.
It is not uncommon for the WBC – whose belt was at stake in the HBO-televised main event – to utilize the practice in its title fights. However, most American fans aren’t privy to it, since it is disallowed in any fight that takes place in the United States, in accordance with the rules provided by the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC).
Therefore, it came with great surprise to the fans watching at home as well as the HBO crew that scores were being revealed to the fighters’ corners following the 4th and 8th rounds. This is a slight yet distinct variation from the normal procedure that comes with WBC title fights beyond American borders, in which the scores are announced after those very rounds on the venue’s P.A. system.
The HBO cameras showed a representative from the WBC going to Chavez Jr’s corner, with head trainer Freddie Roach being asked to review and sign off on the card that was presented to him.
The same was done in Rubio’s corner, though mostly to their surprise in a weekend full of strange events not quite matching up to the itinerary offered.
“We were surprised,” admits Oswaldo Kuchle, Rubio’s promoter. “We didn’t know it was going to happen. I know that the ABC didn’t approve open scoring in the U.S.”
Members at HBO questioned in the aftermath why the practice was even allowed, and also why such scores weren’t made available to the network’s staff on hand. Such questions led to in-house speculation that the decision was made on a whim by WBC President Jose Sulaiman.
Not so, says the WBC.
“The Texas Commission approved the WBC’s request to use open scoring on a limited basis only for the benefit of the corners,” informed WBC Supervisor Alberto Leon. “In fact, the (local) commission itself conducted the procedure that was used.”
Many in the industry have frowned upon the practice of open scoring. Some disprove of the practice due to the fact that a fighter with a large enough lead after eight rounds suddenly eases off the gas and coasts down the stretch. Conversely, the fighter on the losing end of that equation suddenly changes up and no longer fights his fight but instead reacts to the scoreboard.
There also exists the belief that open scoring is means to help single out bad scorecards. The other side of that is a judge whose card is far off from the others (like Dr. Ruben Garcia having Wilfredo Vazquez Jr winning eight rounds in the evening’s co-feature against Nonito Donaire, who won nine rounds on the other two cards) suddenly feeling the need to overcompensate in the other direction.
Where the policy helps serve a purpose is in events such as Saturday’s main event. With the fight on the line, both fighters picked up the action considerably down the stretch, turning a potential letdown into an entertaining fight.
“I feel strongly that the camps knowing the scores after the 4th and 8th rounds made for a much more exciting last four rounds,” Leon firmly believes.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]