Over the years, I have used my podium to criticize judges who I felt were either incompetent or corrupt in rendering decisions in the sport of boxing. I felt it was my responsibility to say something when their actions were hurting the fighters and chasing away fans.
Well, now I feel I must be consistent and therefore come to the defense of the judges who had Tony Harrison beating Jermell Charlo by unanimous decision this past weekend to win a junior middleweight world title. And I am fully aware that many of you out there will disagree with me for this position.
My reason for the belief that they got it right is that, although the nature of scoring a fight is subjective, it should not be. The criterion is clear. The person landing the cleaner more effective punches should be the victor.
It is irrelevant what style fighters use to accomplish this, be it moving forward, sideways or backward. As long as they control the action of the bout by outhitting their opponent, they should have their hand raised. That is what I believe, and it is what my eyes told me that Harrison did.
It does not matter who is stronger or more aggressive or even throws harder punches. All that matters is what lands.
As human beings, we can be — and often are — influenced by things such as the imagery of power and strength. For a contest like bodybuilding that would mean something. But not in the squared circle. Not inside the chamber of truth. And voices can often steer us one way or another even when we are not aware of it. Perhaps even a commentator’s words.
At the end of the day, as I have often said on ESPN, any fighter who steps between those ropes risks leaving that place with less of themselves than when they entered. And if for no other reason than that, I believe it is owed to them by all who are charged with the important duty of judging a fight to get it right.
So, I would ask you to perhaps watch the fight again, maybe with no sound, and see whether you feel that a less physical man with a fast, well-timed jab and smart head movement disarmed a stronger but one-dimensional one, and for one night showed what the sport dubbed “the sweet science” is all about: that no matter who you are and where you come from or what unfair things might have happened to you, that on one special night, if you are prepared enough and driven enough, you can make everything right. And have your hand raised as you are called “Champion of the World.”
I believe we owe that to the fighters. I think they earned it.