Will the alleged robbery that took place Saturday night serve as the death blow to the credibility of boxing officials?
Brandon Rios (30-0-1, 23 knockouts), is still undefeated on paper but in the minds of many his unbeaten streak ended Saturday night at the hands of Richard Adbril.
Was 'the fix'in? Sadly, some fans would say so.
However, the prevailing notion among fans and insiders alike is popular fighters who seemingly have high revenue potential are, to a certain degree, protected when fighting lesser-known opposition. Why? A bout between Juan Manuel Marquez and Brandon Rios would likely be far more lucrative than Marquez vs. Richard Abril.
Spared from the tidal wave of post-fight criticism is Judge Adalaide Byrd who had Abril winning on her scorecard 117-111. To many, Judge Byrd showed two bad apples don't spoil the whole bunch but can spoil an entire fight. Byrd was overruled by veteran judge Jerry Roth and Glen Trowbridge who scored the bout for Brandon Rios 116-112 and 115-113, respectively.
Roth and Trowbridge have not only brought intense scrutiny on themselves but have re-opened fresh wounds that climaxed last year. Sturm vs. Macklin, Williams vs. Lara, Helenius vs. Chisora, Khan vs. Peterson and Pacquiao vs. Marquez III. In each of the aforementioned fights, all of which took place in 2011, the quality and integrity of judges was questioned.
Realizing the need for action, the World Boxing Council (WBC) held scoring clinics last year where boxing judges from around the world were trained on the nuisances and intricacies of scoring by highly qualified instructors. Many questions were answered during the sessions and the WBC believes attendees left with an improved sense of understanding and awareness with regards to the complicated and often subjective task of scoring fights.
Additional scoring clinics will be held at the WBC's annual conference which will take place later this year in Cancun. According to the WBC, the upcoming clinics will be even bigger and better than last year's. The WBC's goal is to create more standard or unified elements from which judges will use to score bouts.
In December, WBC President Jose Sulaiman announced an 'Open Scoring' system would be implemented.
Open Scoring requires the judges' scores to be given to both fighters' trainers after the fourth and eighth rounds. As a result, fighters and their trainers will know where they stand after those rounds and will have an opportunity to adjust strategies based on how the fight is being scored.
Pacquiao vs. Marquez III is a glowing example of how Open Scoring, had it been in use, may have proved to be highly beneficial. Several times during that bout, Marquez's trainer, Nacho Berstain, told his fighter he was comfortably ahead. As a result, Marquez admittedly coasted the last few rounds to protect his lead instead of going on the offensive and taking risks that would have jeopardized his presumed advantage. Marquez would lose a close majority decision to Manny Pacquiao.
According to the judges' scorecards, Marquez was not winning the bout at the conclusion of the eighth round. Two judges had the fight even while the third had Marquez behind 77-75.
Had Team Pacquiao and Team Marquez known the judges' scores after eighth round would it have made a difference in the fighters' strategies and the ultimate result?
During his interview with FightSaga.com in December, WBC President Jose Sulaiman, in defense of Open Scoring, said, "If a boxer knows he's behind, he will come out of his corner and [fight to] win. For the sake of justice, we want to do that."
Perhaps if Open Scoring had been in used in Saturday night's bout, Abril's team may have realized early on they seemingly needed a knockout or several knockdowns to win.
Could knowing the judges' scores after the fourth and eighth rounds spurred Abril to go for the knockout or attempt to register a few knockdowns instead of safely out-boxing Rios en route to coasting to a presumed unanimous decision victory?
As the WBC continues to make the case for Open Scoring, many top fighters, fans and insiders are backing the proposition. And while it will not solve the alleged issues surrounding how bouts are scored, it may give fighters like Richard Abril an appropriate 'heads-up.'