NFL Replacement Referee Controversy All Too Close to Home for Boxing Fans

The NFL replacement referees and the bad calls they produced left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, from the players and coaches, to the fans and presumably the league itself. As a boxing fan, all I could say was welcome to the club!

Boxing fans have grown accustomed to a sport rife with controversy, illegitimacy, and bogus outcomes. It was just three months ago when Manny Pacquiao was robbed of his Welterweight title, dropping an awful decision to Timothy Bradley in a fight he had appeared to easily control.

This isn’t just the Green Bay Packers losing to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3 of the regular season. This is the Packers losing to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game.

The Pacquiao-Bradley fiasco wasn’t even the only fight this year which produced a verdict entirely at odds with the way any reasonable, unbiased fan would have viewed the matter. Brandon Rios in no way deserved to defeat Richard Abril in April; Carlos Molina was ridiculously disqualified in a fight he was winning against James Kirkland in March; and Gabriel Campillo was robbed against Tavoris Cloud in February.

In 2011, there were plenty of other examples of outright robbery: Paul Williams vs. Erislandy Lara, Felix Sturm vs. Matthew Macklin, Robert Helenius vs. Dereck Chisora, and Devon Alexander vs. Lucas Matthysse.

This is just scratching the surface of course, not only for the terrible decisions we’ve seen lately, but for the rest of the controversy that boxing regularly produces. And these were all high profile, televised bouts at the absolute top level of the sport. Imagine what happens elsewhere.

Sure, there was plenty of public backlash after all of these fights, particularly for the Pacquiao-Bradley encounter, as Pacquiao is a global superstar. But nothing changed. The judges for Williams-Lara were suspended, an inconsequential “review” was held for the Pacquiao bout, but that’s about it.

Meanwhile, it took just days after the Packers vs. Seahawks game and the chaotic maelstrom which followed for the NFL to fix the problem. The real referees were already back to work for Thursday’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.

In boxing, there are no “real” judges or referees waiting to save the day. The real ones are the only ones, and they’re also the ones screwing it up. Official training programs and legitimate qualifications? Ongoing performance testing and review? That’s all a pipedream for boxing.

No, the verdict of the Packers vs. Seahawks game wasn’t changed. It couldn’t be, really. However, the outcry following that bout led to the immediate resolution of the standoff between the NFL owners and the referees. There shouldn’t have ever been a lockout, but when things went from bad to worse, immediate corrective action was taken.

So, NFL fans, count yourself lucky. Yes, you had to put up with unqualified professionals making incorrect judgment calls for a few weeks, and some games had their outcomes changed or clouded as a result.

Now think about dealing with that permanently. Welcome to boxing.

This article was first published by Jake Emen on Yahoo Sports, September 28, 2012.

Author: Jake Emen

I’m Jake, and I’m your host on this journey. I'm the man doing the eating and the talking around here. I’m a writer based outside of Washington, D.C., and I'm also talking whiskey, local events, travel, and other assorted misadventures. Follow me on the Tweet Machine - @ManTalkFood, or send an email to jake [at] mantalkfood.com.

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