By Ryan Maquiñana
C.J. Ross, the judge who came under fire last Saturday for scoring the junior middleweight world title fight between Floyd Mayweather and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez a draw, is taking an indefinite leave of absence.
The 64-year-old Ross immediately became a lightning rod of controversy when her 114-114 scorecard was announced following what appeared to be an overwhelmingly dominant victory for Mayweather. The other two judges, Dave Moretti (116-112) and Craig Metcalfe (117-111), had Mayweather ahead by a large margin and overruled her verdict by majority decision. This writer was at ringside and scored the bout even wider, 119-109.
Ross had been licensed in Nevada for 22 years, but according to television station KLAS and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, she sent an email to Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer on Tuesday regarding her decision to step down. “I will be taking some time off from boxing but will keep in touch,” Ross said in an excerpt.
Kizer, who appointed Ross to Saturday’s panel, spoke to KLAS about the reasoning behind the judge’s departure.
“To her credit, she does not want to take away from the story, being what a dominate [sic] performance by Floyd Mayweather,” Kizer said. “So, she has asked us if she can take some time off; we've agreed. It shows the type of person she is. [NAC chairman] Bill [Brady] was very understanding and supportive. He agreed that that was a great avenue to take.”
All three judges earned $8,000 for a decision that has sparked so much negative attention that Nevada governor Brian Sandoval, who appoints commission members, conversed with Brady about the matter.
“I apologized to the governor for any embarrassment we may have caused the state,” Brady told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He made me aware of his concerns. He wants things done right.”
This weekend’s debacle did not mark the veteran judge’s first questionable tally in a high-profile fight. Last June, she was one of two judges who scored last year’s WBO welterweight title bout between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley 115-113 for Bradley—despite a CSNBayArea.com poll where a staggering 50 out of 53 journalists saw Pacquiao as the clear victor.
In fact, Boxrec.com outlined at least nine other occasions since 2002 where Ross picked a winner, only to be overruled by the other two ringside judges with divergent scores for the other fighter.
“I thought it was a joke,” Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after the win over Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs), but eased up on his stance when asked about Ross’s scorecard at the postfight press conference.
“The best commission in the world is Nevada,” said Mayweather, who currently resides in Las Vegas. “If they feel she should be out there, it is what it is. Things happen.”
The NAC will be under heavier scrutiny than usual next Wednesday, when it selects the judges for Bradley’s Oct. 12 title defense against Juan Manuel Marquez at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
“There will be more questions asked, and Keith will be held accountable for his recommendations,” Brady said. “We won’t be a rubber stamp anymore.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com, check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.