Sunday, March 16, 2008

Professional Boxing: Violent Sport, Inexact Science

Trying to make sense of the judges scoring in the Manny Paquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez II duel last night.

Los Angeles Times Photo

In the split decision given in favor of Pacquiao, here is how the judges scored:

Tom Miller – 114-113 in favor of Pacquiao
Duane Ford – 115-112 in favor of Pacquiao
Jerry Roth – 115-12 in favor of Marquez

Being no expert on how scoring is made and since we do not have the round-by-round scoring of each judge, we can only surmise using the total scores on how each judge saw and scored the fight.

The easiest one to speculate is the 114-113 score. Accounting for the one official knock down on the third round which translates to one extra point, this judge had the fight even, most probably having each fighter winning a half of the 12-round fight. And Pacquiao winning because of the extra point for the knockdown.

The Ford score (115-112) appears to work this way. The likely combination is that Pacquiao won in 7 rounds (50 pts), and lost in 5 rounds (45 pts) for a total of 115, and for his part, Marquez won 5 rounds and lost 7 for a total of 113 – 1 = 112. In effect, Pacquiao winning only an extra 2 rounds from Marquez.

But the Roth score is more belabored and harder to fathom (115-112 in favor of Marquez). Possible scenario: Pacquiao won only 4 rounds (40 pts) and lost 8 rounds (72 pts) to arrive at 112. And for his part Marquez won 8 rounds (80 pts) and lost 4 rounds with a knockdown in one (35 pts) for a total of 115. Ergo, Marquez won twice the number of rounds (8) against Pacquiao's 4. Whichever way the actual the round-by-round scoring went for this judge, he definitely saw the fight as lopsided and decidedly in favor of Marquez.

Not surprisingly, the loser when asked after the fight said without hesitation that he did not lose anything, since anybody looking at the fight knows that he won.

And the victor of course answered that he knew fairly well that he had won, even granting that the opponent gave him quite a challenging fight.


  1. Actually, I talked to a judge about his getting a cut if I win my multi-million-dollar bet... kidding.

  2. Dave:

    Seriously, this last fight again brings to the fore the subjective nature of the judging. The first fight was a draw because one judge forgot to give Pacquiao the extra point for the 3rd KD. Last night was payback - an extra point to win for Pacquiao.

    Maybe it should just be a fight to the finish. Both fighters already painted the canvas with enough of their blood anyway during that last fight.

    In the early days of this pugilistic sport that was how it worked. The last man standing was the winner. And thus they had rounds that ran almost to the hundreds. Keep counting until only one man stood in the ring.

    Seriously, it is a cruel and brutal sport that should be gravely curtailed.

  3. I don't follow boxing and so I didn't watch this fight. Was there some sort of belt involved for winning this fight?

  4. Yes, Phil, a title held by Marquez was on the line.

    A point to remember is that in such a scenario when a title is involved, all things being equal judges typically favor the titlist holding on to his title, which a draw would assure.

    But in this case, if indeed the fight was very close in the eyes of the 3 judges, the fight should have been a draw except that in scoring that KD entitled Pacquiao to an extra point assuring him the title.

  5. And what title was that exactly?

  6. Phil, it was the WBC Super-featherweight title (130lbs) which as I recall was the old Jr. Lightweight division. An old friend from the old hometown, named Rene Barrientos, used to hold this world title but was unable to fully exploit financially the trappings associated with a world title. This was in the late 60's. Last I heard he still lives in the old hometown.

    Published an earlier blog entry about him. Showed many parallels with Pacquiao's personal circumstances - came from the same province, was also a southpaw, and fought and won in the same division. Rene however looked more muscular.

  7. Perhaps, a third match should be held to confirm who is better than the other.

  8. And yes, Eric, it will come because money is such an alluring suitor.

    BTW, I have been back in the old hometown for the last week.


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