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.

Of Prostitution and Hateful Homilies

This past week, two attention-rocking temporal “revelations” grabbed the collective attention of a wearied nation already aurally and visually battered from insidious and incessant political sniping coming from all sides. And definitely not buoyed one bit by the dismal reports coming from the economic sector.

First came the shocking exposure that the heretofore unsullied and morality- crusading governor of New York was no more or less like the rest of us – with moral flaws and with muddied feet of clay. He was caught literally with pants down consorting and trysting with prostitutes and worse, trying to cover payment trails for his habit. Payments that may well be judged illegal not only with regard to methods but also as to sources.

The second one though still decidedly of grave political consequences actually partook more of a religious or spiritual nature on the basis of the fact that the very visible source of the challenged statements is an experienced passionate pastor of a church in Chicago and declared mentor and spiritual adviser of leading Democrat presidential candidate, Barack Obama. His fire-and-brimstone rhetoric emanating from the hallowed pulpit of his Trinity Church in Chicago of about 6,000 parishioners came crashing down on the rest of the nation, a showering which was a bit reminiscent of biblical Sodom and Gomorrah. Except that the showered rhetoric was essentially directed against a complicit government and a dastardly nation personally judged to be run and controlled by racist Whites, bent on destruction directed toward minorities, especially Black America. With very fiery deliveries from prepared text and at times revealing visible traces of an almost gleeful smile(IMO), the pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., came barreling down into our consciousness with collated snippets of incendiary sermons archived in his church’s website, bought and collated by some media sources.

Since all the sordid details and images have been splattered across the media firmament, including the continually burgeoning blogosphere, let it suffice that some links have been provided for those eternally curious about them.

Given that the cat is now out of the bag, the toothpaste extruded from the tube, the horses out of the barn, what can we derive from all this setting aside the satisfaction of our innate morbid curiosities for others’ misfortunes? Something positive and constructive to serve as sturdy guideposts for future decisions and actions.

There definitely are a lot of handy lessons, maybe mostly old archaic lessons that may need no recounting or maybe needing recounting to make a more permanent and emphatic impression on all of us in attendance.

Without any rhyme or cadence these are the possible lessons racing through my mind, lessons which personally are quite germane and useful in our current pursuits and whimsical fancies in the largely unsupervised blogosphere and media.

1. In the case of our ever vigilant crusades for pointing out and/or bringing out good in this world, we should never let our heated passions and ardent eagerness blind us to our own flaws and shortcomings. We should always temper our moralizing with a humble (though tacit) acknowledgement of our own failings; and start criticizing others within that framework, ever cognizant that our statements and actions better be congruent with our own moral situation whether known or not, and not hypocritical to them. Truth soon lets out and may also find us wanting of them in our own lives. Thus, truths that we pursued so eagerly and publicly may in fact be the same ones to indict us before our God and the public.

I believe this one lesson covers much ground in the two incidents highlighted. A singularly-focused crusading moralist soon realizes that he too is the victim or target of his own actions. A preacher, who represents a religion of peace, love, forgiveness, and Jesus Christ, soon realizes that his cavalier homilies of inflammatory divisiveness, angry and vile condemnations of certain actions that may be not proved, cannot find proper places in the venue he has chosen to expose them as judged by many among the discerning public.

2. A person blessed and gifted with considerable fortune (Ivy League education) and grace (gift of tongue) has a great responsibility to point out and denounce human failings and humbly propose the alternative things that are good, all in the name of noblesse oblique. It is not sufficient for such blessed individual to sit idly by and turn a detached cheek, all in the name of sacrifice to identity politics or to garner a political constituency. Not after sitting by idly for two decades.

The world is a world of imperfections and can never expect to be perfectible, but it is still incumbent for each one, especially those who wield great honor, respect, and command to steer mankind toward those noble ends. We will be judged based on our efforts, rather than the results of our actions.

3. Like any headline-grabbing incident not only are there hapless victims caught in the cross-fire, but the unintended negative repercussions on them are doubly intensified and felt. In the case of the governor, we have the innocent wife and the frightened daughters and of course, their entire distraught families. And the same holds equally true for the family of the prostitute. She is still the loved daughter of some mother and some worried father, aside from being the sister of an embarrassed brother.

What about the exposed hateful preacher? Same things, though many members probably believe in their hearts that his statements are okay and not worthy of censure, regardless of how others view them.

While most have written off the ascendant political life of the NY governor who comes from a very privileged background, what about the up and coming ambitious rookie senator who wants to be president?

Will this reduce his flaming star to a flicker and finally to extinction? Only the near future can tell. Already some partisan quarters have declared his current candidacy a toast. If the emerging media-initiated groundswell continues to build up, it may very well be the likely final scenario.

One bets surely that all sides will take advantage of this revelation for their own political ends, both the opposing party and that part of his own party that wants the lady senator to be the standard bearer.