By Lyle Fitzsimmons
In Florida, we call it the “cone of uncertainty.”
Whenever a hurricane clears the island of Hispaniola in the eastern Caribbean, meteorologists of every Sunshine State persuasion are sent scrambling to computer models to trace the path of the would-be storm as it approaches our tourist- and 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 11-plus 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 seen the predictably fatalistic pronouncements that never follow too far behind – I’ve decided to co-opt a little of Jim Cantore’s act for the boxing crowd.
Introducing, ladies and gentlemen… the “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 two-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 two rounds of a generally accepted norm – whether you’re a professionally licensed judge or you hawk overpriced smokes for a living – maybe you ought to try scoring 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 man won. And if they don’t, well, then feel free to proceed with your rants about incompetence, corruption or whatever other windmills you’d care to tilt at.
Or at the very least, go ahead and reconsider that subscription to Fighters Only.
Given the latest controversy of the moment – Saturday’s Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury heavyweight duel in Los Angeles – the arrival of the cone on store shelves is particularly well-timed.
Using my own score totals – incidentally, I had Fury winning, 114-112 – and applying the cone reveals that a similar verdict in Wilder’s favor could also be appropriate.
Obviously, the nuance of any fight indicates in which direction that allowance is best utilized.
Given my own perspective on Saturday’s scrap – which I had a little wider through 11 before handing the last dramatic round to Wilder – I’d be more apt to believe I shaded close rounds in the reigning champ’s favor than Fury’s, meaning a four-point nod for the Gypsy King would be more palatable to me than a two-pointer for the Bronze Bomber.
Either way, though, unless you think your scorecard is so pristine that no variance is acceptable, the cone does allow for a tad more contemplative thought before clicking send on yet another incendiary conspiracy theorist rant that provides always ample heat but precious little light.
Unlike a lot of people in this gig, I’ve never been that sure I’m smartest person in the room.
So while I concur that near-shutout scores in Fury’s favor may be misguided, they’re only slightly different than the official card that had Wilder ahead by a four – calculations that indicate to me the scorer stopped paying attention shortly after Jimmy Lennon Jr. told us it was “Showtime.”
To these eyes, it was a good, tough fight and could have gone either way.
And though I’m no one to put blind faith in punch-count statistics, when one guy lands a better percentage of his jabs, his power shots and his total throws – as Fury did – he makes a pretty strong case that he deserves to win. For me, that’s good enough.
Use it in good health… and if the trees start blowing sideways, evacuate.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s legit title-fight schedule:
IBO welterweight title – Kempton Park, South Africa
Thulani Mbenge (champion/No. 43 IWBR) vs. Miguel Vazquez (No. 32 IBO/No. 47 IWBR)
Mbenge (14-0, 11 KO): First title defense; Two TKO in four 12-round fights, both in Round 7
Vazquez (40-6, 15 KO): Ninth title fight (7-1); Held IBF title at 135 pounds (2010-14, six defenses)
Fitzbitz says: Vazquez made a career out of close losses before a renaissance at 135, and there’s a chance he outfoxes the champ here. But it’s more likely the window has closed. Mbenge in 10 (75/25)
WBA/WBO lightweight titles – New York, New York
Vasyl Lomachenko (WBA champ/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Jose Pedraza (WBO champ/No. 6 IWBR)
Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KO): First title defense; Twelfth title fight in 13 career bouts (10-1, 8 KO)
Pedraza (25-1, 12 KO): First title defense; Held IBF and IBO titles at 130 pounds (two defenses)
Fitzbitz says: Pedraza was worthwhile at 130 pounds and made himself a player at 135 by beating Beltran. But he’s up against the world’s best here, and it won’t end well. Lomachenko in 9 (100/0)
WBO junior featherweight title – New York, New York
Isaac Dogboe (champion/No. 2 IWBR) vs. Emanuel Navarrete (No. 2 WBO/No. 28 IWBR)
Dogboe (20-0, 14 KO): Second title defense; Five straight wins by KO/TKO (30 total rounds)
Navarrete (25-1, 22 KO): First title fight; Eight straight wins by KO/TKO (34 total rounds)
Fitzbitz says: Dogboe has become a flavor of the month thanks to his style, and it’s likely to blend here for a fun night – albeit a short one. It’s possible, but an upset is hard to pick. Dogboe in 6 (70/30)
Last week's picks: 3-1 (WIN: Niyomtrong, Hurd, Gvozdyk; LOSS: Barriga)
2018 picks record: 84-33 (71.7 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,004-337 (74.8 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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.