By Armando Garcia: Holding is one of the most obvious poor tactics in the sport of boxing. It not only infuriates the fans, but it negates action during the bout. Add to it a little 'running' and you have a not so delectable recipe that quickly creates irate fans.
Holding occurs in various forms. A boxer may hold his opponent's arms, hands, body, or shoulders with either of his hands or arms.
Is it always a foul when one boxer holds their opponent and then either semi boxes out or quickly darts out of the way? Think about it before you read on. Certain name boxers of the past and present will come to mind. As was with me, fouling and great boxing tactics both may come to your mind.
Clearly, certain types of holding should be admonished. Some of these are:
1) Holding and hitting
2) Holding when hurt or fatigued
3) Holding to set up a foul or unsportsmanlike act
4) Holding for no reason
Just as true as the above should be admonished, there is also a form of holding (and running) performed by some boxers that is done in a true effort to get in position to score points that may not always be a foul.
I can sense some eyebrows raising right about now.
Let me give you a scenario.
Boxer A is one who relies on mobility and speed as one of his primary assets to score points. Boxer B is a methodical boxer/puncher who is adept at cutting off the ring and placing his opponent in a position where he could land hard blows, but is not as fast as his opponent. Early on, it is clear that Boxer A is the faster of the two.
As the bout develops, Boxer A begins to use his mobility and speed and is scoring points. Boxer B adjusts and begins to cut off the ring while trying to place Boxer A in a corner, thus denying him of one of his primary tools, mobility. In those instances, Boxer A begins to employ a tactic of quickly moving forward, holding Boxer B, sometimes punching and moving out.
As the bout progresses, you as the referee begin to notice this tactic, and, most importantly the fact that it is countering the effectiveness of Boxer B's cutting off the ring and landing scoring blows. Most of the times Boxer A is effective in his tactics as he adds quick short combinations when he performs these moves.
Should a referee determine that Boxer A's tactics are fouls, i.e. Holding? Running?
Given only the above brief scenarios, these actions may not be considered as a foul. The fans aren't going to love it, but Boxer A is employing a tactic that is getting him in position to score points AND is negating the effectiveness of his opponent.
The tactic becomes a foul when the holding lasts for X time longer, the running is simply, well, running, and or the period that the action lasts becomes longer as the bout progresses while the attempt to score points becomes weaker.
These tactics are usually part of a boxer's action plan for the bout. What some may only see as 'running and holding', it is in fact Boxer A using all of his skills to try to score points while getting out of the way of someone who is going to hurt him if he doesn't.
My point is that this action in modern day boxing, although taboo to the purists, is a tactic that one must not misinterpret as 'clear cut' holding (and running) or what I call, holding for no reason.
In past articles and in training I continuously mention and use the phrase: good judgment. Good judgment, as it relates to professional boxing, is best defined as that innate ability that allows you to interpret what you are seeing and translate it into proper fair action.
The exact time in the bout when a referee should admonish similar actions is at the discretion of the referee based on the exact situation and their better judgment. This, my friends, is world class level refereeing and a mindset that takes a while to develop.
This referee action interpretation is difficult to detail in writing and is best described in the seminar environment.
So what is the bottom line?
Holding, per se, is only really holding when a boxer goes in, holds, refuses to break when commanded and simply does so with no apparent effort to score points, get in position, etc.
Think about it, who wins bouts? Generally speaking the winner is the faster, stronger, smarter boxer. The one who uses all or most of his skills usually wins.
So what am I saying, let the guy hold when the other guy is attacking? No! What I'm saying is, let the Boxer As of the world use their skills, and let the Boxer Bs who face them, counter. Exercise good sound judgment. As you develop into a world-class referee you just know when a boxer is crossing the line. And, when he does, and not before, take appropriate action.
What do you think?
Please direct your comments to Armando Garcia at:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Florida State Boxing Commission, the Miccosukee Athletic Commission and the World Boxing Association (WBA) presently license Armando Garcia as a Referee. He is a former International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) Referee/Judge for the USA.
He has been involved in boxing for over 17 years and has refereed 26 world championship fights and judged 12 others since 1994. He regularly conducts international referee seminars for the WBA and has done so in the USA, Thailand, Spain, Nicaragua and Venezuela. He also conducts seminars for the Association of Boxing Commissions and International Professional Ring Officials organizations. He was honored as the WBA International Official of the Year in 2002.
He was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States in 1959.
He presently serves as Director of Security and Loss Prevention for Perry Ellis International, a leader in the apparel industry, in Miami, Florida. He is also a former veteran police Detective in the South Florida area.
DISCLAIMER, WAIVER OF RIGHTS AND INDEMNITY
The "The Professional Boxing Referee" columns are prepared by Armando Garcia in an effort to establish a criterion for dealing with numerous referee situations and as an attempt to interpret professional boxing rules in a simple manner. In the series he will also be discussing various important issues related to professional boxing.
Although he has a vast boxing resume, the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained in this series of articles reflect his own interpretation of referee rules and procedures and not necessarily those of the entities that license him.
Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or MARGINAL standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a referee, boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and MARGINAL standards of practice for each jurisdiction.
All readers are advised that the information herein is intended solely as a general reference source, and to the fullest extent permitted by law, the information is provided "AS IS" without any warranties of any kind, whether expressed or implied, including without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. No one may rely on the accuracy, integrity, quality or completeness of the general information herein. Accordingly, neither the author nor anyone else affiliated with any website or press entity may be held liable for damages of any kind whatsoever allegedly caused or resulting from any such claimed reliance.
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