Friday, December 16, 2011

Instant Replay Issue Gets Nod From WBC, Will Promoters Agree?

By Rich Mancuso

One of the prevailing issues of this boxing year, as a follower of the sport would know, is the controversial conclusion. It is not so much about the scoring at ringside which has always been a subjective part of boxing, rather the foul or discretion call of the referee.

That was seen again last Saturday on HBO when point deductions became a deciding factor in the Lamont Peterson title win over Amir Khan, a controversial split decision. And all you have to do is review the recent Chad Dawson –Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight championship, a win for Dawson that was later reversed to a no-contest.

So with the Hopkins decision now declared a no-contest by the California State Athletic Commission, and previously ruled likewise by the sanctioning World Boxing Council, the WBC at their convention in Las Vegas this week unanimously approved the use of instant replay when a foul or other inaccuracy occurs in a fight under when it comes to their coveted title.

Of course that would have to be approved by the promoters, and in situations of a WBC, or unified situation, WBA, IBF, WBO, or other, the prevailing thought is that replay would have to be unanimously approved by all. And in boxing, getting approval and all being on the same page, as we all know, can be a difficult journey.

It comes down to specifics, and of course what is correct for the sport. And in 2011, boxing fans have come to expect the controversial outcome. Promoters, such as Top Rank and Golden Boy, have the bargaining power to overturn decisions. They are the revenue producers and no sanctioning body, WBC or otherwise would go against their plea for a review and request for a return bout.

Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy formally put in their request to review and ask for a rematch, though their plea went to the IBF and WBA sanctioning organizations as the WBC belt was not up for grabs. Jose Suliaman, the longtime head of the WBC presided over the video review vote, and the Khan-Peterson fight was a factor, more so the Hopkins-Dawson fiasco of an outcome.

There are specifics to the video replay ruling. Not like baseball and football where replay rules are in effect for controversial plays, requiring an official review, boxing is different. The review of a fowl or inappropriate move contested in between rounds would disrupt the flow of a good fight. Though it can be argued, that the referee does stop a fight in action because of tape on hand wraps that get away from the gloves, a fight canvas needs to be wiped because of water used by the corner man, or a cut needs to be reviewed by a ringside physician.

To some extent, a video review system for boxing, or an open scoring system for the sport does seem logical. Because there seems to be a prevailing opinion that fans are rebelling about purchasing pay-per-view events that result in a travesty. A cause for action is needed and the WBC appears to be putting this issue in a proper direction.

Surely guys like Hopkins, even Joseph Agbeko are in agreement with the WBC. Hopkins got the no-contest and retains the WBC title, and Agbeko, because of a WBC ruling got his rematch with Abnar Mares last week, and lost after feeling he won their controversial first fight in April.

Now it up to the promoters to say, the WBC is moving the sport in a right direction. But recent history says, that may be an impossible task because promoters and sanctioning bodies are never on the same page.

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