By Ishe Smith
First off, as a fan of the sport, I am tired of seeing bad decisions week in and week out. As a professional boxer, I get sick to my stomach when I see a guy pour out his guts for twelve rounds, and have some incompetent judge take it away from him. Friday night in Las Vegas was a clear example of why boxing is at it’s worst state when it comes to trust, dignity, and loyalty within its fans, sponsors, and fighters.
It was clear that Beibut Shumenov had taken the beating of his life from WBA light heavyweight champion Gabriel Campillo. He was outclassed in every aspect of the fight - effective punching, ring generalship and he never controlled the action.
How can any judge take this fight away from Gabriel Campillo? I have asked myself this question over and over again. How in the hell can Patrica Jarman score this fight 117-111 for Shumenov? I don’t know how anyone can see Shumenov winning this fight.
It makes you wonder about the promoters, special network deals, and definitely the judges. How can you fully trust the system anymore? Paulie Malignaggi called a judge out before his first fight with Juan Diaz. He wanted him removed because of the bad decisions he had rendered in the past and this same judge, Gale E. Van Hoy, was still allowed to work the fight - and turned in one of the worst scorecards of the year.
Van Hoy should be questioned and suspended, pending a hearing and reinstatement. It's not hard ladies and gentleman. It's not rocket science to score a fight. The winner of the round gets ten points and the loser gets a nine or less depending on a knockdown or some other factor. These judges have the best seats in the house. They score fights on a ten point system. Why are they turning in so many bad scorecards? Honestly my eight-year-old son could have judged that fight on Friday. It was clear that Campillo had won. I had it scored 8-4 at the worst.
Let’s evaluate what goes in to a boxing camp:
1. You leave your family for months at a time.
2. Sticking to a very strict diet.
3. Countless rounds of punching the heavy bag, sparring, running, exercising, and that’s just the average pro.
I know a normal camp for me is waking up at 6am to go running, then I come back home to eat and rest a bit. Then I am off to the boxing gym at 11am to work out, which includes sparring, hitting the heavy bag, jumping rope and shadow boxing. Then I head back home for dinner, and then I'm back at the gym to work with my strength coach. I do this for six to eight weeks. Boxers give up the normal things in life that people are accustomed to - like spending time with the family, eating whatever we want and spending time with our children. We give all of that up for months at a time.
Needless to say, we take this sport very serious.
In the days leading up to the fight, the butterflies and anticipation begins to grow so heavy that you can barely sleep at night. The weigh-in commences and we are almost ready to do battle. Like the great William Wallace once said "any man who says fear never enters their mind is a coward because it does." But it's not the fear of walking down a dark alley at night. It is the fear of losing and wanting to be great, wanting all of the hard work to pay off, wanting to provide a better life for your children, wanting to sink that birdie at Augusta on Sunday afternoon to win The Masters. That’s what the pressure is like.
Two months of training have passed and now it’s fight night! You eat your pre-fight meals, and then you take small walks to make sure the food digests well. You play the fight over and over in your mind - thinking to yourself "I am going to do this, I am going to do that."
In your mind you have already fought and won.
But the truth is, the fight has already started because at this moment you are battling within yourself. You count down the hours as if you were going to be executed. Then finally it is time to hit the arena. In the locker room you wait until your call. The tunnel walk is a great feeling. By that point all of the butterflies are gone and only the excitement remains.
The excitement to be victorious and looking great in doing so. All the hard work is over and only this night remains. Two months of training doesn’t matter anymore because the time has finally arrived. The bell sounds, then you start to pour your heart and soul out. Between rounds you go back to your corner, listening to instructions, thinking of your family and kids, and you even glance over to the crowd - sometimes looking for approval from a friend or loved one.
The fight ends and you achieved your dream. The decision takes a while to be rendered. Finally the scores come in and your heart drops - because you lost the fight. You hear boos rain down from the crowd. In your heart and mind you know you won.
To make matters worse, everyone in the arena thought you won and reminds you every single time they see you in the post-fight. You quickly get depressed and start closing off the world. The hurt of losing sinks in. It is easy to hear someone say "champ you won" - but your heart is breaking and you feel like a failure. You start doubting yourself. You start looking back at the fight in your mind and saying "I should have done this or I should have done that."
I know that feeling and my heart goes out to Gabriel. These judges don’t know or simply don’t care about the lives they affect and it is really getting sickening. I know Keith Kizer [of the Nevada State Athletic Commission] very well. He needs to fix this. Las Vegas is one of the best commissions in the world. If the fighters are subject to penalties for various things, then the judges should face similar penalities. The SEC suspended referees this year for making bad calls in a few college football games. I think the commission needs to take this approach with the judges. Hometown decisions, agendas, promoters and the cable networks - who cares anymore. The guy who actually wins should be given the victory.....PERIOD!
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