Monday, October 17, 2011

Dawson Win Is Enough Proof That The Sport Needs Instant Replay At Ringside

By Rich Mancuso

Chad Dawson is a light heavyweight champion again and Bernard Hopkins may have seen the end of his legacy. And for the sport of boxing again there is talk, and nothing positive. Three weeks after another fiasco finish that saw a controversial pay-per-view ending of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. win over Victor Ortiz, we are left with questions and skepticism.

The questions about another controversial ending should encourage those in command to advocate an instant replay and review system at ringside. Instead, we get talk about Dawson moving on to fight Jean Pascal next, inquiries about how severe the shoulder injury is to Hopkins, and awaiting if the California Athletic Commission will revert the TKO decision ruled by the referee Pat Russell.

The lasting impressions are where Hopkins goes from here after being diagnosed with a separation of the collar bone and shoulder blade. That offers a valid reason as to why Hopkins could not continue in the second round, and perhaps Dawson was on his way to a legitimate championship win. However, Dawson, the new champion, has a questionable championship and more so this is another black eye for the sport that sees no light at the end of the tunnel.

So Dawson and his promoter, Gary Shaw can talk all they want about moving on and not granting Hopkins a rematch. Even if the commission rules that the fight should be a no contest, leaving Hopkins with the title, he may not be in position to defend the light heavyweight title because a 46-year old with that type of shoulder injury requires a long recuperation. The belt could be declared vacant which would leave an opening for a Dawson-Pascal fight for the light heavyweight title.

But the issue now is not about Hopkins, or how he may have quit and forced the issue of a questionable injury. The issue should not be about Dawson and how he lifted up Hopkins, and using his shoulder that put Hopkins on the canvas that led to another awkward and questionable finish in a championship pay-per-view fight.

The issue is about the sport of boxing, how fans are becoming victims of one travesty after another, and why the sport needs revisions of rules and procedures that never seem to happen. Because there is not one single authority that can make the changes, and once again the issue of a national boxing commission will be discussed and never become reality for one reason or another.

So what is the resolution? Because the last thing a boxing fan wants to see is another awkward outcome in a few weeks when Manny Pacquiao defends his title in a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.The athletic commissions and sanctioning organizations, sharing revenue from promoters and gate receipts, want to be the sole authority and render the final decision.

Though this time, boxing and Hopkins may see some justice. Because Dawson did not level a punch or blow that warranted Russell to rule it was a TKO. It was a foul. Hopkins could not continue before four rounds. The result should have been a no contest and the title still with Hopkins, even if Dawson and Shaw advocate continually that they now have the title, and possibly ended the legacy of Hopkins.

Though boxing is a subjective sport, different from baseball, football and other major sports, more so because of controversial decisions, implementing an instant replay system of review may never be incorporated in the rule book. It has always been the third man in the ring who makes the final decision. And prior to 15-round championship fights going to 12-rounds, because of safety issues to the fighters, the referee was also scoring the fight.

However, as has been seen too often, the referee has become the subject of controversy. Joe Cortez in the Mayweather win over Ortiz, and now Russell who said it was not a foul that Dawson committed to Hopkins. Yet Russell was escorted out of the Staples Center in Los Angles and was not allowed to speak with the media. You see, in a controversial Major League Baseball post season game, the Commissioner of Baseball mandates that the umpire who made the questionable call has to meet with the media to provide an explanation.

Instant replay and review of a play makes it easier to overturn a ruling by an official. In this case, boxing, again as the subjective sport as it is, may not have the means to allow a change. The sport does not want to be put in a category of doing a correct thing for the fighters, more importantly for the fans. It is left to the governing bodies, the athletic commissions in a board room, and the promoters contending against each other.

It will be left to Shaw and Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy, Hopkins’ promoter to provide their point of view. And boxing fans will wait for what hopefully will be the right decision that the referee made a wrong decision. Shaw said there will never be a rematch, even if the WBC advocates and decides there should be one.

And there may never be a rematch, because Hopkins needs time to recuperate and realized after the first round that this was going to be a fight. But the real fight now is not in the ring. It is the horrible outcome of another fight that went bad for the sport and their loyal fans.

A national commission may never be the answer. A good replay system at ringside never intended for the sport may now be the proper route.

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