Mauricio Sulaiman column: Replays, judging/scoring, 30-sec signal, social media
Mauricio Sulaiman – The 12th Round
TECHNOLOGY IN SPORTS
I am still vibrating from the SuperBowl. What a game-ending run for the Patriots, led by the best quarterback in the history of the sport. Such a performance by the Patriots will, without a doubt, be a source of inspiration to millions who find themselves in troubled times. Never give up! Work hard! Keep moving forward! Patience!
Boxing started with a bang this 2017. Great matches, great plans, and so many things we all have to look forward to in the coming months. One of the many priorities of the WBC which makes the 2017 Action Plan is to continue with the innovations and technological implementations in our sport in order to adjust to the current times and to use technology to make boxing safer and better, and to make sure justice prevails.
The NFL has been a leader in implementation of technology in the sport. Instant Replay has changed football and plays a major role in the game. The NFL introduced it, many detractors opposed it and celebrated its mistakes, but instead, the league kept on moving forward and constantly adjusted it to make it as efficient and fair as possible. Today all major sports use Instant Replay technology: Baseball, Hockey, Tennis, etc. Boxing? Yes, but in a limited way. Our sport is different from all others and local jurisdictions (local boxing commissions) have the authority to simply say “no.” The WBC introduced and has used Instant Replay successfully for the last eight years and the results have been highly satisfactory. Even with proven facts and hundreds of examples, still most fights in the world take place without the rule of use of Instant Replay .
The WBC will continue to work diligently to establish it and use it in WBC sanctioned events, and invite all organizations and all local jurisdictions to implement the use of Instant Replay in any form. This is not a matter of ego. It is a matter that needs to be adressed for the good of the sport, the fans, and justice for the fighters.
Other topics of major importance form the Action Plan, but all of them have to do with the relations with the local authorities, who often simply elect not to even consider the new rules, the pilot plans/programs or recommended procedures. Some are:
JUDGING SCORING SYSTEM
The WBC invented and introduced the 10-point Must System, which has been used for the past 40 years. It has served as a fair solution, but it is now time to implement changes to address the current problematic and evident failures of the system, as 95 percent of the rounds are scored 10-9 regardless of how such round was won – slightly, moderately, clearly, or by absolute and complete dominance and power. The proposed adjustment to the system, which was constantly adressed and proposed by Jose Sulaiman, could be seen as a complex one, but it gathers the knowledge of many great officials and many years of experience and would be fairly easy to implement. The idea is to score the rounds by providing a much wider range for officials to score, selecting such score “by concept” (slight, moderate, absolute), and that way having officials be able to use 10-10 for very close rounds, 10-9 for moderate advantage, and 10-8 for absolute domination. Total domination, even without knockdown, can be scored 10-8. This will not be easy. It will take time, but it will all depend on the local jurisdictions to be open to changes. A simple example would be to compare rounds 1 and 12 of the Badou Jack vs. James DeGale fight. Both were scored 10-8 due to the knockdowns, but those rounds were completly different and should not have been scored the same. But that is the current system.
OPEN SCORING AFTER THE 4TH AND 8TH ROUNDS
Boxing is the only sport in which nobody knows the scores until the end of the event. The WBC introduced the announcement of the official scores after the fourth and eighth rounds, having the last four rounds with drama and uncertainty for the end result. In 10 years, the results have been fantastic – boxers and corners appreciate knowing how the fight is being scored, and can adjust their strategy; fights have been more competitive and with more action, and there has not been one single negative incident. Still some local jurisdictions will not even consider using it as a test trial. Announcing the scores also brings transparency to the sport which is constantly labelled as corrupt. Judges are decent and honorable and they have no concern to have the scores announced and the WBC does it, and has done it in more than 40 countries. Why not try it in the USA or in the UK?
NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES FOR JUDGES
The WBC began in 2016 a pilot program to have judges wear noise-cancelling headphones, which aid in concentration and prevent the influence of loud crowds or nearby comments, which certainly could have an effect, even unconsciously. The results have been positive. There are certain objections, but mostly coming from people who did not even try it. Resistance is a constant in the boxing world. We will continue to use them, and hopefully local commissions will begin to open up to the idea and try things out.
30 SECOND SIGNAL
The WBC implemented a pilot plan in 2016 to create a signal (horn or microphone announcement) at the 30 second mark before the end of each round in order to promote activity, and the result has been magnificent. We will continue to introduce it in different countries.
Boxing, as most things in current life, is run with the tremendous influence of social media. Press reports and fan interaction is more active every day on different platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. Fights are promoted differently: fighters make their own news by direct contact with fans, and boxing has reached places that, without social media, would be impossible to accomplish. We invite you to join the WBC Facebook page, to follow the WBC twitter, instagram accounts: @wbcboxing, @wbcmoro and others.