I watched the De La Hoya fight, I’ve seen many of the highlights on TV, I’ve read the commentators explaining why Sugar Shane got the belts, but I still think Oscar won.
Maybe I watched a different fight from everybody else (or maybe I was taken in by the HBO commentators, who were all pro-De La Hoya, their money boy), but here’s what I saw:
* Oscar dictated the pace of the fight for at least eight rounds
* Oscar dictated the nature of the fight for all 12 rounds
* Oscar threw more punches
* Oscar landed more punches
* Oscar’s jab controled Mosley for at least six rounds
* Power punches were about equal
* Mosley landed almost no combinations
* Oscar mostly landed jabs but got in combinations of his own from time to time
* Oscar never hurt Mosley
* Mosley hurt Oscar, very briefly, twice
This adds up to one conclusion: perhaps Sugar Shane was the better fighter, but he was *outboxed* by Oscar. And isn’t that the game?
Commentators seem to think different. The LA Times’s “Bill Plaschke”:http://www.latimes.com/sports/printedition/la-sp-plaschke14sep14,1,3186309.column?coll=la-headlines-pe-sports says that Mosley won because he drew blood, but that blood came from an unintentional head-butt, so if any judge took sanguescence into account in his or her scoring, that was simply an act of incompetence. The “AP”:http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2003/more/09/14/box.mosley.delahoya.ap/index.html says that Mosley was more active and that was why he won, but the CompuBox punch tracker shows that Oscar threw 100 more punches, landed 100 more punches, and completely dominated with his jab. He also ran in circles around Mosley for all but the last round, so how could Sugar Shane have been the more active fighter?
Now, boxing is a game of rounds; one fighter must get ten points each round, the other most often gets nine. De La Hoya-Mosley II was a close fight, whoever you thought won, so I could see judges scoring many rounds for one fighter or another. This focus on small quanta (for instance, a flurry of aggression by Mosley) could hide trends that were strongly present through the whole fight but completely dominant at no single time, like De La Hoya’s control of the pace of the fight. So, I’m not saying that the fix was in here, I’m just saying that, in a Mosley win, you saw a few individual rounds being scored, not a whole fight.
So what ought Oscar have done to win? Well, the obvious answer is that he had to hurt Mosley at some point. Boxing is a violent sport, and the causation of pain is an appropriate metric for judges to use, but let’s be clear here, Mosley never really hurt Oscar either. What else? Well, let’s make a list of what Oscar didn’t do, and assume that doing some of these would have allowed him to win:
* Hurt Mosley
* Punch for power
* Stand and fight
That’s pretty much it, right? And what’s the list above? Well, that’s what a brawler does. That’s what a guy who comes in and goes toe-to-toe with his opponent for twelve rounds does. That’s *not* boxing. So, to win, De La Hoya had to be a fighter, a brawler, not a boxer. Is this what the great sport of boxing has come to?
Having bought a good number of fights in the last few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that the current system of three judges with hidden cards does not work. I’ve seen heavyweight fights bought, I’ve seen dubious decisions, and, for a sport with so many questions about its fairness, boxing needs a better scoring system.
There are a lot of options. Pro boxing could choose amateur boxing’s system, which is good but… But I think a good, easy-to-understand solution that takes into account that Boxing is a sweet science and yet still an art is actually to follow the example of many Olympic sports, such as, *gasp*, figure skating and gymnastics. Yes, boxing should have two components to each round’s score: one provided by CompuBox, worth up to five points, which tracks measurable things, such as punches thrown and punches landed (points can even be subtracted for undesirable actions, such as low blows and head butts). This will allow the more active fighter to get points for each round. The second component will be the current judges’ scores. Why incorporate them? Well, boxing, though sweet, is not entirely a science. We still need someone to keep track of non-quantifiable things, like who controls the pace of a fight and who looks scared. Judges can give 5 points to a round’s winner, 4 or 4.5 points to the loser. Judges’ jobs will actually be easier, because they don’t need to count punches, they just need to follow their gut feel for the round.
Let’s see how the fight would’ve been scored if we used my system above. We’ll presume the following, based upon the fight *I* saw:
* Oscar wins the first six rounds on CompuBox
* Sugar Shane wins the last three rounds on CompuBox
* Oscar gets one other round, Mosley gets two on CompuBox
* The winner of each round on CompuBox gets 5 points, the loser 4.5
* We use randomly-selected judge Christodoulu’s scoring for the judge’s score, cutting each fighter’s score in half to comply with our new five-point system
So here’s the actual score:
|De La Hoya||9||10||10||10||9||9||10||10||9||9||9||9||113|
And here’s my suggested score:
|Mosley – Judge||5||4.5||4.5||4.5||5||5||4.5||4.5||5||5||5||5||57.5|
|Mosley – CompuBox||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5||5||5||5||5||5||56.5|
|De La Hoya – Judge||4.5||5||5||5||4.5||4.5||5||5||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5||56.5|
|De La Hoya – CompuBox||5||5||5||5||5||5||5||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5||57.5|
Egads, add that all up and it’s a 114-114 tie! But, hey, it was a close fight. And the value of my scoring system is obvious in this case, because it shows the clear winner of the scientifically-measurable part of the bout getting a lift from that accomplishment. In fact, I probably could’ve given Oscar 8 rounds on CompuBox, which would’ve lifted him to the win.
Is this scoring system perfect? No, but the three-judge system is looked on with too much doubt by too many fans after fights like Lewis-Holyfield I and Saturday’s De La Hoya-Mosley II. If boxing is the sweet science, let scientists and tacticians like De La Hoya win over a fighter who has to brawl.