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01 NOVEMBER 2014

Where am I? Home Columns Paul Upham
 

Great Fight, Close Fight, Mundine-Geale Rematch Please


Geale vs. Mundine 2?: Tim Barry
Geale vs. Mundine 2?: Tim Barry

Comment by Paul Upham: First and foremost, Anthony Mundine’s twelve round IBO middleweight title battle with Daniel Geale on May 27 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Australia was a world class and highly entertaining match. The subsequent controversy over Mundine’s split decision points win is regrettable, but also understandable. It was a very close fight and Geale should be granted a rematch.

Calling the fight at ringside for Main Event Television and Fox Sports with my co-commentators Andy Raymond and Barry Michael, I scored the fight for Mundine 114-113. That is six rounds for each boxer and one point less for Geale’s knockdown in round 2.

I have received many angry telephone calls from Geale fans and supporters over the last three days. I get it. You think your boxer won and I’m not going to argue with you. It was that close a match. Anyone who tells me they had Geale winning by a point or two, I am very happy to accept that.

Geale’s long-time mentor Jeff Fenech called me on Thursday and said that anyone who had Mundine winning the fight doesn’t know how to score a boxing match and should get out of the sport. How can I argue with a three division world champion and Boxing Hall of Famer?

What I will question is anyone who scored the fight who considers themselves a fan, supporter or had bet money on the fight. Were you biased in your scoring judgement? There were some very close rounds on Wednesday night and it is natural for a person who considers themselves backing either boxer to be leaning towards their man.

The closeness of the match and subsequent claims of robbery by many who watched the fight prompted me to review my previous research on scoring methods and my conversations with some of the best boxing judges in the world.

A former boxer himself, American boxing judge Tom Kaczmarek has been an active judge and officials trainer for over 30 years. Kaczmarek has judged over 1800 professional bouts in the United States, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

The highly respected Kaczmarek is also the author of a book on scoring, You Be The Boxing Judge, first published in 1996 by Dorrance Publishing Company in Pittsburgh, USA. In 2003, Kaczmarek released a DVD with Murphy/Rector Communications based on his successful book.

I first interviewed Tom Kaczmarek in 2001 and have spent many hours since, discussing the art of scoring professional boxing matches with him, whilst learning from one of the best in the business. I continue to use Kaczmarek’s book and DVD as a training tool to improve my own skills.

Kaczmarek has always reminded me that concentration is extremely important in accurately scoring any boxing match.

“My eyes and ears are riveted to what is going on in the ring, nothing else,” he told me.

For Kaczmarek, emotional influences such as anyone watching who likes or dislikes a certain boxer, can subconsciously affect their scoring.

“It’s probably happening without the fan realising it,” he says. “If they have a favourite, more than likely they are going to subconsciously favour him during the fight when scoring. When you are scoring any fight, you have to see the two combatants in the ring as Fighter A and Fighter B.”

Las Vegas based official Duane Ford, has been one of the leading big time boxing judges for over 30 years since 1978. For those who ask why Ford is considered one of the best, I offer two fights twenty years apart as evidence.

Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales fought in a brutal war in February 2000, which many experts labelled as the Fight of the Year. Although most observers agreed that Barrera won the fight, Erik Morales was awarded a close split points decision win. Ford was the sole judge in that bout who scored the fight for Barrera.

In November 1979 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Marvelous Marvin Hagler fought then middleweight world champion Vito Antuofermo over fifteen rounds in a fight which seemed to be clearly won by Hagler. The fight was scored as a split draw and Antuofermo retained his title, which prompted many public calls of robbery. Ford was the only judge to have Hagler winning the fight.

I first interviewed Duane Ford by telephone in the year 2000 and met with him in his Las Vegas office in 2001, where we spent many hours discussing the art of scoring a fight.

Ford agrees complete concentration is extremely important for anyone wanting to arrive at the correct score.

“The fan has to decide if they want to be a fan or judge a fight,” Ford told me. “If you are a fan, then enjoy the fight and pick your fighter. If you are going to score a fight, you have to sit there like a mannequin and you can’t be talking to anybody or popping your beer. You have to watch that fight closely.”

When it comes to actually analysing what is happening inside the ring, Kaczmarek highlights three scoring criteria.

1. Clean Punching/Effective Aggressiveness
2. Ring Generalship
3. Defense

“If you say that clean punches/effective aggressiveness wins a round, then that’s not too subjective,” explains Kaczmarek. “Clean punches are not subjective. A clean punch is a clean punch. If you are watching carefully and a fighter scores a clean punch - that is the most important factor in scoring any round. Any other criteria are supportive. Ring generalship is important, but it is a supportive role. It doesn’t really score points. I don’t sit at ringside and say, wow, he is really building up a nice lead because of his ring generalship. However, his ring generalship is allowing him to score punches and not get hit. The defence also is mostly supportive.”

Evaluating the punches that are landing is the primary concern of Ford when he is judging a fight.

“In professional boxing, whoever lands the most punches is normally winning,” he said, “but if there is power punches in there, it takes judgement, it takes a little criteria on that. It’s a judgement area and everyone’s judgement is different. What is important in professional boxing is to hit the other guy and to control him. Where the judgement comes in for example, is when you have two fighters and Fighter A lands five or six jabs. Then Fighter B lands one hard punch which changes the direction and the style of Fighter A. Maybe that one hard punch by Fighter B is equal to three or four jabs of Fighter A. That’s where the judgement area comes in. The only thing I’m processing are the punches and the velocity of them. I don’t care who is the aggressor, I don’t care what ring generalship is, I don’t care what sportsmanship is. All I’m judging is the punches that land. What’s going on in the ring? Was it a hard punch? Who’s controlling the action?”

“If a hard punch changes how the other boxer is fighting,” continued Ford, “and changes the mode in the ring, that punch gets a little more credit than a jab. I think there are even rounds. But if the official uses a lot of even rounds, he is not concentrating and using it as a crutch. The things I look for in scoring a fight are very simple. Whoever’s landing the punches, unless one guy is landing harder punches. Then you need to figure out which one is controlling the round. Which one is doing the damage and controlling the fight itself. You have to look at the punch to see what is happening. When the other guy is hit, does it change things in him?”

If you want to be serious about improving your boxing scoring skills, I urge you to purchase Tom Kaczmarek’s training DVD at www.TVBoxingJudge.com

I don’t profess to be the world’s best boxing judge in the world or even a really good one, but over the last decade I have undertaken some training and spent many hours speaking to and learning from two of the best boxing judges in the world.

Getting back to the result of Mundine-Geale, apart from the final scoring outcome, there were some other interesting issues to arise from the match which have been communicated to me via the phone calls I have received and arisen in discussions with over one hundred people since the final bell.

Mundine’s Loose Glove Tape: There were five stoppages for loose tape on Mundine’s gloves between rounds 6 and 10. Three for the right hand and two on the left. The rules allow the referee to deduct a point from a boxer if he feels the loose tape was intentional. Referee Gary Dean ruled that there was no intent to break the rules on these occasions.

Geale’s 2nd Round Knockdown: When Mundine dropped Geale with a left hook in the opening exchange of round 2, while the champion was not hurt and regained his feet immediately, the one point lost cost him a draw on the final scorecards. The scores of judges Derek Milham (116-113) and Richard Green (115-112) were not affected. But Judge Marcus McDonnell’s score of 114-113 for Mundine would have been evened if Geale had stayed on his feet.

Mundine’s 9th Round No-Knockdown: At the end of round 9, Mundine received a right hand to the forehead at almost the same time his rear foot slipped on the advertising logo on the canvas. Referee Gary Dean ruled a slip and no knockdown was recorded. Television replays indicated that Mundine would most likely have not hit the canvas without the slip. If a knockdown had been ruled, the fight would have been a split draw and Geale would have retained his world title.

Geale’s workrate: The intensity, passion and aggression that Geale brought to the ring saw Mundine pushed to work like never before. Mundine prefers to fight at his own pace and Geale almost suffocated the air out of him in the first six rounds.

Geale and his promoter Grange Old School Boxing have the option of protesting the result within 30 days to the IBO. A letter of complaint from Geale or his manager/promoter representing him, to the IBO’s fight supervisor Phil Austin will trigger a review by the IBO head office in Coral Gables, Florida in the USA.

This process was recently seen in action after Billy Dib’s IBO junior lightweight title win over Zolani Marali in Newcastle in July 2008. Marali complained about the points decision given against him and the IBO head office arranged for three of their international judges to review the fight on tape. The IBO subsequently ordered a Dib-Marali rematch.

Anyone who had Mundine or Geale winning this fight very easily by a number of rounds is incorrect.

It was a very close match and the best evidence I can give to support that view is from the three official judges’ scorecards.

Of the twelve rounds scored by the judges, only in four rounds did they score the same way;

Rd. 1: Geale 10-9
Rd. 8: Mundine 10-9
Rd. 9: Geale 10-9
Rd. 10: Geale 10-9

After scoring the fight 114-113 for Mundine at ringside on Wednesday evening, on Thursday I watched the fight again, sitting by myself in an editing suite at the Fox Sports News studios in Sydney. This time around, I scored the fight for Geale 114-113, 7 rounds to 5, which represents one round different to my original score.

The most interesting aspect of watching the fight on television, less than 24 hours after seeing it at ringside, was how vividly it reminded me of the differences of the two viewing points.

Watching a fight live in the arena at close range, you receive a much clearer feeling of which punches are landing and which punches are doing the most damage. It is a better place to evaluate the effectiveness of the punches.

Watching on television, your overall view of the ring action is better, but you do not get the same sort of feel for the quality of the punches that are being thrown and landed.

This may explain why I found more boxing industry people inside the Brisbane Entertainment Centre arena had scored the fight for Mundine, whereas many people watching on television had Geale winning. Just as was the case from my own perspective.

Rounds 4 and 5 were extremely close with no clear winner. I actually watched them twice on television trying to formulate a definite outcome. I note that the majority of official judges scored rounds 4 and 5 for Mundine.

Ultimately, close matches such as Mundine-Geale will always result in fierce and passionate debate as to the winner. It is the nature of boxing. Scoring a fight is not like watching a football match where everyone can see the ball being kicked between the goal posts.

In the absence of a knockout win, scoring a fight is based on opinion. As explained by Tom Kaczmarek and Duane Ford, some skill, technique and concentration is required to arrive at an informed opinion. The removal of personal biases and getting people on the same page using the same criteria when it comes to the way we score a fight is vitally important.

Do you like more lighter punches or less harder punches in a round? What punches are catching your eye? What punches are landing unseen or being blocked? These are the questions which can make a close fight hard to score.

If the knockout is the ultimate way to win a fight, my scoring philosophy gives greater weight to harder landing punches than more lighter punches. That is just my opinion. There will be others with more qualified views.

I summarise the outcome of this IBO title fight as follows: Daniel Geale may have done enough with scoring punches to win on points, but two of the official judges were more impressed with Anthony Mundine’s cleaner, eye catching punches.

Hopefully, what can be agreed upon is that Mundine-Geale was a great fight. It was a close fight and Daniel Geale more than deserves a rematch.


Paul Upham
Content Editor


Photo by Tim Barry - www.TimBarry.wetpaint.com


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