By Lyle Fitzsimmons - In Florida, we call it the “cone of uncertainty.”
Whenever a hurricane clears the islands of the eastern Caribbean, meteorologists of every Sunshine State persuasion are sent scrambling to computers as it approaches our retiree-sopped peninsula.
At the business end of the cautionary arc is a flared-out section that illustrates the few hundred mile range within which the rain, wind and other fun and games will actually make landfall. And while their pre-landfall appearances on camera tend to lean a smidge toward the overdramatic, my just less than eight years in the southernmost state have shown me the weather guys generally get it right.
Which is why, in the aftermath of yet another teeth-gnashing weekend of boxing judging – and having already surveyed the fatalistic Twitter pronouncements that never follow too far behind – I’ve decided to again co-opt a little of Jim Cantore’s act for the boxing crowd.
Re-introducing, ladies and gentlemen… the new and improved “cone of judging uncertainty.”
Available from me to you, my cherished Tuesday fans, free of charge.
Its practical application for non-dangerous storm situations is simple. When you watch a fight and add up your own scores, simply overlay the cone onto your paperwork and allow for a one-point swing in either direction from what you’d tallied – because, after all, none of us is infallible.
And let’s face it, if you can’t stay within a round of an accepted scoring norm – whether you’re a licensed judge or you hawk magazine ads for a living – maybe you ought to try MMA instead.
At any rate, if the eventual official scorecard totals fall within the cone, the decision is legit and a case can be made that the right conclusion was reached. And if they don’t, well, feel free to proceed with your rants about incompetence, corruption or whatever other windmill you’d care to tilt at.
Or at the very least, go ahead and consider that subscription to Fighters Only.
Given the latest controversies of the moment – Saturday’s NBC card headlined by Garcia-Peterson and supported by Quillin-Lee – the cone’s return to store shelves is particularly well-timed.
Using my own totals for the main event – which I had 6-6 (114-114) – properly applying the cone would make anything from a 7-5 verdict for Garcia favor to a 7-5 nod in Peterson’s direction appropriate.
In other words, with two 7-5 scores for one man and a third score of 6-6, the judges did get it right.
The same holds true in the other fight, too, which I had 7-5 (114-112) for Quillin.
Allowing for one round in either direction brings anything from 8-4 Quillin to 6-6 into play, meaning the 6-6 cards of both Glenn Feldman (113-113) and Eric Marlinski (113-112 Quillin) are beyond reproach – and the 7-5 ballot for Lee from Guido Cavallieri is only mildly disconcerting.
Unless you think your scorecard is so pristine that no alternative is acceptable, the cone does allow for a tad more contemplative thought before you click send on another incendiary conspiracy theorist rant that provides ample heat but little light.
Unlike a lot of people in this gig, I’ve never been so sure I’m the smartest person in the room.
For a little more context, though, I applied the cone to a few recent fights with noteworthy outcomes.
My card for Mayweather-Maidana I last spring in Las Vegas read 8-4 (116-112) in the winner’s favor, which meant both the 8-4 and 9-3 tallies in “Money’s” direction were passable, while the 6-6 that prevented a unanimous decision was a little more difficult to stomach. In the rematch four months later, my vantage point yielded a 7-4-1 advantage for Mayweather, again matching one card exactly and having no real issue with the other two that saw it 8-3-1 for the still two-belt champion.
I confess to having not seen this site’s pick for 2014’s “Robbery of the Year” – Oscar Escandon vs. Tyson Cave. Still, upon retroactively applying the cone to the co-winner of the dubious award in 2013, Brian Vera’s first go-round with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., it does shows an ability to register baloney as well.
My card of 6-4 for Vera allows for dissent in the form of 7-3 or even 5-5, but the extent to which judges Gwen Adair (8-2), Marty Denkin (7-3) and Carla Caiz (6-4) veered while making it an unlikely unanimous win for the legend’s kid was enough to offend even my liberal scorekeeping sensibilities.
Given the imminent big fight on May 2, I’ll make sure it’s all tuned-up for the trip to Las Vegas.
In the meantime, though, use it in good health… and if the trees start blowing sideways, evacuate.
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
WBC bantamweight title – Osaka, Japan
Shinsuke Yamanaka (champion/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Diego Santillan (No. 7 contender/No. 37 IWBR)
Yamanaka (22-0-2, 16 KO): Eighth title defense; Third fight in Osaka (2-0, 2 KO)
Santillan (23-0, 15 KO): First title fight; First fight outside Argentina
Fitzbitz says: Perhaps the 118-pound class is a lot more daunting in Argentina that one might believe. But that’s still probably not going to help Santillan when he arrives in Osaka. Yamanaka in 9
Vacant WBO junior welterweight title – Arlington, Texas
Terence Crawford (No. 1 contender/No. 3 IWBR) vs. Thomas Dulorme (No. 5 contender/No. 7 IWBR)
Crawford (25-0, 17 KO): Fourth title fight (3-0); Second fight in Texas (1-0, 1 KO)
Dulorme (22-1, 14 KO): First title fight; Undefeated since 2012 (6-0, 2 KO)
Fitzbitz says: Dulorme might be good enough to beat 99.9 percent of the 140-pounders in the world, but Crawford’s something special. Another win for the sport’s best emerging fighter. Crawford by decision
Last week's picks: 4-2 (WIN: Troyanovsky, Lebedev, Bennett, Guevara; LOSE: MacKenzie, Salido)
2015 picks record: 18-6 (75.0 percent)
Overall picks record: 657-229 (74.1 percent)
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.