Scoring a fight isn’t easy. Boxing is an ugly, fast-paced sport with constantly-changing angles. It’s loud, bloody and emotional. Thousands of micro-events take place, in rapid succession, that greatly factor into the outcome of a given round. You’d be forgiven for not catching them all. No sir, scoring a fight is not easy.
Here’s the thing, though: It’s not fucking hard either.
You’re given very specific parameters within which to work. Clean punching, effective aggression and blah blah blah. We all know the framework. At the end of the day though, it’s two guys punching each other and it shouldn’t be hard for a trained eye to figure out who is doing that better.
For any given judge — professional, armchair or otherwise — mileage may vary on what pumps your gonads. Do you prefer power or precision? Body or head? Inside or outside? Does one fighter simply backing the other up qualify as effective aggression or does successfully fighting off your back foot count as ring generalship? There’s a lot at play and having only one set of eyes can feel like a disadvantage.
Most of the time though, dogshit scoring can be racked up to either corruption or good old fashioned incompetence. And even the tinfoil hat types have to concede that it’s almost always the latter.
It certainly seems to be the case with Yordenis Ugas’ split decision victory over Abel Ramos this past Sunday night at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California on a PBC on FOX televised card.
Ugas (26-4,12 KOs) is no stranger to scoring shithousery, having been the recipient of a split decision loss to Shawn Porter last year that many felt he won. Sympathy from fans means dick on the scorecards, unfortunately, and Ugas finds himself still fighting for legitimacy in an absolutely stacked welterweight division.
Ugas is by no means a scintillating fighter, but something about his style seems to give judges fits, not to mention his opponents. He’s neither a banger nor a slickster but there’s something about the way he fights that just scrambles the brains of those tasked with adjudicating his performance. That’s the nice way of putting it at least.
The not-so-nice way of putting it is that judge Lou Moret’s senility has fully consumed his brain and the visual stimuli he was once able to recognize as corporeal human entities now appear merely as a grey haze backdropped by the murky, endless abyss of our mortality.
There’s simply no other way to explain his 117-111 scorecard in Ramos’ favor. CompuBox punch stats showed Ugas outlanding Ramos (26-4-2,20 KOs) 233 to 109 over 12 rounds. We all know that punch stats don’t tell the full story but if you can explain to me how the guy who was outlanded more than 2-1 somehow took nine rounds without using the words “braindead” or “Alzheimer’s” you can have my first born. Yes, ThE RigHt gUY WoN but we shouldn’t be having this same god damn conversation again.
Neither Ugas or Ramos are big names per se, and about 47 total people watched this fight, but the stakes being low aren’t the story here. Bad scorecards are turned in every day and they can, quite simply, ruin lives. In a sport where you’re not allowed to lose and pristine records are seen as promotional currency, a bad night at the office from a judge can derail an entire career. Incompetence has consequences, and in a sport this fickle, they can be devastating.
For Ugas, they almost were. Again.
Ugas kept Ramos on the end of his jab most of the night and clearly controlled the action. Keeping Ramos on the outside, Ugas was able to dictate pace throughout. The action was never hot and heavy, but with Ugas it rarely is. He’s a steady, consistent fighter who knows how to use his style to his advantage.
As Moret’s brain was vapor-locking, luckily his cohorts for the evening, Zachary Young and Edward Hernandez, got it right with matching 115-113 scores which, to be honest, were probably still a little close. Nevertheless, catastrophe was narrowly avoided.
But what about next time? What if the next Moret brain damage masterpiece comes on a high-profile pay per view card? How can we keep explaining this shit away to people who already think this sport is more corrupt than a republican senator?
The answer is, we can’t. Ask anyone former or prospective boxing fan about their reluctance to engage with the sport and it almost always comes down to poor or untrustworthy judging. Why bother to learn the rules and nuances of a sport when the people involved don’t even adhere to them themselves?
I don’t watch football, mainly because my time on this earth is precious and finite, but if I did sit down to enjoy a game and every time a guy scored a touchdown they called it off JUST FOR THE FUCK OF IT, I’d probably find something else to invest my time in. I can’t imagine it’s any different for people crossing the street from boxing to MMA and not looking back.
There’s a quote from Christopher Hitchens that I have hanging in my office and think about quite often when watching or consuming sports-based content of any kind:
“The newspaper has a whole separate section devoted to people who want to degrade the act of reading by staring enthusiastically at the outcomes of sporting events… All I ask is that they keep them out of the grown-up parts of the paper.”
Sports are dumb. Most people are dumb. I certainly am. The love affair between dumb people and dumb activities is not a mystery. Almost everything we do, see and absorb in our lives is pointless. Boxing very much included. It’s all dumb.
But let’s not make it more dumb than it already is by letting dumb, senile people tell us we just saw something that we didn’t and by letting that incompetence go unpunished.
We have politics for that.