In recent weeks, boxing’s umpires and officials have found themselves under public scrutiny after a string of questionable decisions.
Sadly for the sport of boxing, it’s not the first time that an umpires integrity and their scorecard have been brought into question. Bad judging has always been a stain on boxing’s name, from claims of incompetence to corruption, a boxer knows that no matter the performance, anything can happen if it goes to the judges’ decision.
In the world of boxing, the word ‘robbery’ is thrown around a lot. It’s not to say that every close fight is a bad decision, like us fans, umpires prefer a certain style, too. Some fights divide opinion and people see rounds unfold in different ways, but, rarely do you find a decision that leaves the whole boxing community shaking its heads.
Roy Jones Jr v Park Si-Hun
Undoubtedly boxing’s single greatest robbery in the history of the sport. Worst of all, it prevented one of boxing’s greatest stars being awarded a well-deserved Olympic gold medal.
In terms of his professional career, Roy Jones Jr is remembered as a phenomenal four-weight world champion who spent years as the undisputed pound-for-pound king.
For Jones, his story began at the 1998 Olympic Games in Seoul. On his journey to the final, Jones had not even lost a single round in the tournament and was seen as the clear favourite. The final went very much like all Jones’ other bouts, he brutally outclassed his opponent and landed almost three-times as many punches as Si-Hun. Somehow, the fight was awarded to the hometown fighter 3-2 on the judges’ decision.
A decision that was so disgusting it saw the three judges banned from umpiring for two years and Time magazine has the fight in its 10 worst calls in any sports history.
Manny Pacquiao v Tim Bradley
If Roy Jones Jr has the biggest robbery in the amateurs’ then the great Manny Pacquiao can claim the biggest robbery in the professional ranks.
In 2012, Pacquiao was making his 16th title defence against a much lesser known fighter in Timothy Bradley. Many boxing experts felt prior to the fight that the American welterweight was truly out of his depth and only stood punchers chance. Despite landing 100 more punches than Bradley and convincingly dominating ‘Desert Storm’ for 90% of the fight, Pacquiao was deemed to have lost the bout as two judges scored the fight 115-113 for Bradley, social media exploded.
As both boxing pundits and fellow fighters called for the judges’ to have their licences immediately revoked, some of boxing’s biggest names felt that the decision had tarnished the reputation of the sport, former heavyweight king Lennox Lewis described the fight as a stain on boxing and a disgrace.
To make the decision more baffling, an unofficial WBO review panel of five veteran judges all awarded the fight to Pacquiao by a landslide.
Manny Pacquiao vs Jeff Horn
That’s right, this wasn’t the first time that poor Manny has been on the end of an absolute shocker of a decision.
This time, the eight-weight world champion travelled to Brisbane, Australia, the home of pretty much completely unknown fighter Jeff Horn. Infront of 60,000 of his own supporters, Horn tried valiantly to be the aggressor in the fight, but, although Pacman might not have been the force that he once was, Pacquiao was clearly the superior man and convincingly out-boxed the hometown hero. Many expected that the Philipino star had successfully defended his WBO title and he would move on to bigger names once again, but, this is boxing.
Instead of the comfortable Pacquiao win that we all saw, Horn had his hand raised and left the new WBO welterweight champion.
— ESPN (@espn) July 2, 2017
Gennady Golovkin vs Canelo Alvarez
It was billed as a candidate for fight of the decade, after years of hoping and praying, we finally got to see the two best middleweights on the planet battle it out. The problem is, nobody will remember the fight, people will only remember one judge, Adelaide Byrd.
In a contest that saw Golovkin spend eight or nine rounds stalking Canelo and beating him up against the ropes for most them rounds, nobody expected a score of 118-110 to go against Triple G. Granted, Canelo bravely rallied back in the final three rounds, but, it clearly wasn’t enough to dethrone the unified king.
As for the other two judges, one scored it 115-113 in favour of Golovkin and the second had the bout tied at 114 apiece, a million miles away from judge Adelaide Byrd, who scored the fight 118-110 to CANELO.
The scoring was so disgraceful that boxing fans and officials are calling the decision a federal offence and demanding that the judge is banned from umpiring for life.
— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) September 17, 2017
Julio Cesar Chavez vs Pernell Whitaker
The fact that immediately after the fight, Sports Illustrated ran a special issue with ‘ROBBED’ printed over a picture of a Pernell Whitaker’s shocked face, should tell you what people made of this decision.
Entering the fight, Chavez had an astonishing record of 87-0, he was considered to be the greatest Mexican fighter of all-time and many had him as the undisputed pound-for-pound king. Needless to say, Chavez was the clear favourite to move his record on to 88-0.
The fight itself told a very different story, though, despite the first few rounds being relatively close, Whitaker began to take control of the contest. Whitaker’s game plan of stick and move was clearly taking its toll, he constantly kept the Mexican off balance and broke him down with some dazzling combinations and dominated the inside exchanges.
In the final third, Chavez looked to have become flat and silent. At the final bell, everyone including the Showtime commentators expected the American to have conquered the Mexican legend, Showtime had Whitaker winning by four or five rounds. Instead, two judges somehow scored the fight 115-115 and Chavez escaped with a draw and his record wrongly still intact.
Pernell Whitaker lands 3 jabs and a left in his "draw" with Julio Cesar Chavez
Sports Illustrated Headline – "ROBBED" pic.twitter.com/23snRwMkgy
— KO Kings (@KOKINGS4) July 10, 2015
Lennox Lewis vs Evander Holyfield
In 1999, the world stopped and watched as two of heavyweight boxing’s biggest names would face off to see who was the undisputed king.
Lewis was currently the WBC champion having held title for over two years, and Holyfield had recently unified the division, the world expected fireworks.
Sadly, we didn’t exactly get fireworks, instead, it was a matter of watching Lennox Lewis repeatedly jab Holyfield in the face. The Brit simply outclassed his opposition and Holyfield was never able to neutralise Lewis’ long jab. Staggeringly, by the final bell, Lewis had landed over 200 more punches than Holyfield and had a success rate of 65% compared to Holyfield’s 36%.
By this point, you can probably imagine the scoring didn’t reflect the fight. Instead of the unanimous Lewis victory we should have witnessed, Holyfield managed to come away with a draw.
Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis
Never has a fighter been so convinced of his own defeat as was EH and still awarded a draw #boxing
— Penny K™ 📎 ❄️ (@feastorafamine) November 18, 2016
Jose Luis Ramirez vs Pernell Whitaker
That’s right, much like Manny Pacquiao, Pernell Whitaker must have felt that the boxing gods were constantly conspiring against him. This time tho, the fight was attracting controversy before the first bell had even been rung.
With rumours circulating that the WBC wanted to their champion to face off against WBA champion Julio Cesar Chavez, when a fight with Whitaker was announced instead, many felt that Whitaker was already entering the fight with a disadvantage.
Despite people hoping they would witness a fair fight, the conspiracy theorists appeared to be on to something. It was a dominant display from Whitaker who led the fight from the start, ahead by no less than nine rounds on almost all unofficial scorecards, then something began to stink.
With the fight in absolutely no dispute, Whitaker was only awarded one of the judges cards in his favour. Somehow, the other two judges had scored the fight for Ramirez at 118-113 and 116-115, handing Ramirez a split decision win.
On a happy note, Whitaker won by unanimous decision in their rematch and became the unified king.
@SkySportsBoxing worst decision has to be Jose Luis Ramirez v Pernell Whitaker 1. Pernell robbed completely
— Dean Berks (@berks_d) October 2, 2014