By Tom Kaczmarek
These guidelines are published for the boxing fan who loves the fight game, loves the action, but wants to become part of the action and score the fight rather than just be a spectator. There's more to it than meets the eye. Most professional boxing judges have the benefit of years of experience judging fights, sitting at ringside (in what are the best seats in the house), under perfect conditions to do a credible job. Judges with good reputations and pride in their work seek to maintain and improve their skills by attending seminars and training sessions whenever possible. Training seminars are conducted by the local boxing commissions and sanctioning bodies such as the World Boxing Council (WBC). At these sessions, all phases of judging a fight are reviewed extensively, and regardless of how many you've attended, you always come away with additional know-how.
The guidelines contained here are intended to give the television viewer the same opportunity for learning the basics and sharpening his or her skills while scoring fights on television.
These guidelines represent a consensus of existing guidelines promulgated by boxing commissions in the U.S. and foreign jurisdictions.
While there are some variations amongst the above groups in their approach to judging a fight, the guidelines set out in this manual will allow you to score a fight within the boundaries generally accepted in the world of professional boxing.
I use this information as part of my mental preparation on the day of a fight. It is my own way of narrowing my focus on the fight, and I'll review all, or parts of it, depending upon available time and circumstances.
The first time I laced on a pair of boxing gloves as a professional was in 1947. This was the period of time when the country was rebounding from the rigors of World War II and fight clubs could be found throughout New Jersey. There was a fight show every night someplace in the state--Elizabeth, Newark, Paterson, Trenton, Jersey City, Camden, and so on.... These were The Golden Days of Boxing, when in the big cities a fight fan could literally walk down the street to see live fight action. It was the time of neighborhood rivalries, with local fighters attracting enthusiastic crowds into small fight arenas throughout the country. Back in those days in New Jersey, the referee was given the sole responsibility for judging a fight using the round system.
Over the next several decades, not only was there an evolution in the boxing industry, i.e., promotions, training, matchmaking, contracts, but also in the approach to judging fights.
As the fight business entered into the television era, things started to change. The number of live shows in local boxing arenas started to dwindle with the advent of mega-purse offers by corporate sponsors using the television to attract viewers. Because of the logistics involved in establishing the promotions to suit the requirements of television, the local fight arenas that were the lifeblood of boxing all but disappeared. The gambling casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City became the "Boxing Capitals of the World". With the advent of television changes also started to take place in the technical aspect of professional boxing. In the early days of boxing, the referee was usually the sole arbitrator of the fight. He alone was both referee and judge. Eventually two judges were included with the referee in the scoring process to respond to the need for refining and improving the scoring of fights. The outcome of the fight was then determined by three people, providing for a balanced decision. Before long, other factors began to surface in the sport, directly influencing the duties of the referee in terms of insuring the safety of the fighters in the ring. The scoring of the fight was removed from the scope of the referee's duties. This served a two-fold purpose. First, it allowed the referee to devote his undivided attention to the fighters in terms of ring safety. Secondly, it allowed 100 percent concentration on scoring by the judges, none of whom would be burdened with the additional duties of refereeing.
In most jurisdictions, three judges were assigned to score fights by the early 1980s, and this led to a new era in judging fights.
This chronology of events occurred in most states where boxing was controlled or regulated by boxing commissions. But something needed to be done with the scoring system as well, since there were many variations in how fights were scored. In New Jersey, for example, fights were scored by the round system. The winner of the round, in the view of the referee and later the judges, would be credited with that round, and, at the end of the bout, the fighter who won most of the rounds would be awarded the decision. For example, in a ten-round bout, if fighter "A" won six of the rounds and Fighter "B" won four of the rounds, the score of that fight would be "A" by decision - 6 rounds to 4. The fallacy of this system is that a fighter could completely dominate a round, even score several knockdowns, and not receive any more credit than if he narrowly won the round. Scoring by rounds did not take into account situations where one fighter may have outscored his opponent by wide margins in the rounds he won, while his opponent was winning his rounds by narrow margins but still gaining the same advantage in the scoring.
While New Jersey employed the round system, other jurisdictions used different variations for scoring---from the round system to point systems ranging from 1/4 points to 20 points, depending on where the fight was held. This led to an inconsistency in scoring, and it begged for change.
Because of the complexities of scoring a fight, and because of the subjective nature of judging, there was a need to refine the system.
The 10 Point Must System, implemented by the WBC in 1968, surfaced as the most logical method of scoring a fight. Nationally and internationally, the 10 Point Must System is generally in use. The system enables a judge to give a boxer credit for knockdowns, and rounds where the fighter dominated, by adjusting the point difference to distinguish between close rounds and rounds won by greater advantage. And the fact that it is used in most jurisdictions contributes to consistency.
Now let's talk about implementing the 10 Point Must System.
In any professional sport, the officials must undergo training and supervised activity to reach the top levels of officiating. They need to learn the basics by officiating at preliminary levels, and as they gain experience, they rise to the top. It is the combination of training and experience, and, of course, dedication, that produces credible officials. Why should judging a professional boxing match be any different? It isn't.
The average fan, sitting at home, watching the fight on television is usually drawn into the fight for various reasons---good action, one of his favorites is fighting, toe-to-toe war, underdog making a battle of it, and, quite naturally, he or she will wind up making a decision on the outcome. But on what grounds? Admittedly, many fights are relatively easy to score. This happens when one fighter is superior to his opponent, out-gunning and out- thinking him through the course of the fight. There may be a round or two that is close enough to need real appraisal, but, nonetheless, the outcome is never in doubt. But what happens in a close, hard-fought fight in which many of the subjective facets of boxing science surface? Does the fight fan with no training or instruction really understand the 10 Point Must System? Probably not. This is where we step in!
It's not just a matter of watching the fight and saying "A" won the rounds or "B" won the fight without justifying your reasons for scoring the way you did. And most importantly, you ought to be using the same guidelines as the officials at ringside.
What we'll do is establish a basis, or guidelines, for implementing the 10 Point Must System so that our methods are uniform with everyone else experienced in the system and based on traditional boxing technique.
What we'll do is carefully review the various elements of scoring procedures, including the three basic factors used to score each round: 1. clean punching/effective aggressiveness; 2. ring generalship; and 3. defense. We'll also discuss punching: power vs. quantity. We'll study the 10 Point Must System in detail, as well as various other factors that play a roll in scoring the round and we'll talk about the absolute power of concentration
TO BE CONTINUED
COMING NEXT: ---- PART TWO
All Rights Reserved
Book Copyright 1996 by Tom Kaczmarek
Electronic Copyright 2002 Murphy/Rector Communications, Inc.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom Kaczmarek, an ex-boxer and current international professional boxing judge, is Chairman of the World Boxing Council Ring Officials Board and a member of the Ring Officials Committee of the North American Boxing Federation. He was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994, and the Elizabeth Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. Kaczmarek has judged over 1500 professional bouts, including major world championship fights in the United States, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He has conducted training seminars for judges for the World Boxing Council (WBC); the New York State Athletic Commission; the International Boxing Federation (IBF); the State of Connecticut Boxing Commission; the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Boxing Commission; the North American Boxing Federation (NABF); the Washington, D.C. Boxing Commission; the New Jersey State Athletic Commission; the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission Athletic Unit; the Edmonton, Alberta Boxing Commission; and the International Professional Ring Officials Association (IPRO).
Tommy Kaczmarek has been a resident of Brick, New Jersey for the last sixteen years. He retired from the State of New Jersey Violent Crimes Compensation Board in 1991 where he was Commissioner for 18 years and Chairman for 5 years. He is a licensed professional boxing judge in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Boxing Commission, and the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission Athletic Unit. Although Mr. Kaczmarek is a boxing official for each of the above Commissions, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, Mashantucket, and Mohegan Commissions.
All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical, legal, or financial professional whenever a boxer or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer should take. Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or acceptable standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and acceptable standards of practice for each jurisdiction.
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