Those who refuse to believe that boxing, with its stellar history of integrity over the years, actually has corruption always claim that to believe corruption actually exists, they must see “hard evidence” of the allegation. Something like a grainy security camera video showing a judge secretly being handed a bag of century notes to be stashed in the trunk of his or her 2007 Volkswagen Jetta.
But in reality, those who demand to see such evidence, in my opinion, have some strange, deep-seated desire to believe that somehow, someway boxing is different now. It’s not the mob-controlled shady cesspool of American sports as it once was. But any rational person cannot avoid coming to the most logical conclusion that some boxing judges are indeed corrupt.
I will use as precedent the case of Major League Baseball in the mid-1980s and the collusion between the owners to keep free agent salaries down.
In 1985, several top major leaguers, most notably Kirk Gibson, hit the free agent market. To their surprise, they got little or no interest and ended up back with their original teams. After an outcry from the players (and their agents, of course), the union filed a grievance, accusing the owners of collusion.
The only “hard evidence” arbitrator Thomas Roberts had was some comments by then-Commissioner Peter Ueberroth about teams supposedly spending too much money and internal team memos about not taking the risk of signing long-term deals. Hardly the kind of “hard evidence” one would seem to need to prove actual collusion between owners.
But Roberts was no dummy. He found the owners guilty of collusion because it was not the most likely but the only possible explanation for players such as Gibson not being offered market-value contracts.
This brings us to recent decisions in boxing which can only be attributed to corruption. Let me first give the criteria I use when I say “corrupt decision.” These are decisions for which there is no other plausible explanation for any given judge’s suspect card. This eliminates so-called “controversial” decisions. A decision is not corrupt - or even controversial - when a difference of just two rounds is in dispute. Sure, I think Lucas Matthysse deserved wins over Devon Alexander and Zab Judah but the one or two rounds that tipped the balance were hardly controversial.
And let’s keep in mind, when a close fight that can go either way does, it’s only controversial to the loser and his fans. Nor will I include “hometown decisions” as corrupt decisions. While it can be argued that hometown judging is a form of corruption itself, it’s not the kind of under-the-table, seedy corruption of which I am speaking. Hometown judging is a plausible explanation in the Ricky Burns-Ray Beltran fight but corruption? No.
I’m talking about decisions which cannot be explained as simply controversial or hometown judging or even involving a judge with a history of questionable decisions. I am talking about judges who have properly judged thousands of fights yet somehow becoming incompetent together on the same night (as some would claim in the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera corruption).
Or how about the case of C.J. Ross, whose outrageously corrupt scorecard of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul Alvarez fight only makes sense when you look at the odds? A Mayweather decision or technical decision paid a scant 10-to-19. In other words, it’s $10 of profit for every $19 bet, so a $19,000 Mayweather (by decision) bet would profit $10,000. But Mayweather by majority decision paid a whopping 21-to-one. So that same $10,000 bet now earned $210,000.
The initial rumors of the line on a majority decision falling from 31-to-one to just eight-to-one before the fight were just that: unfounded rumors. And it not possible that someone put a huge amount on the majority decision bet or the line would have indeed shifted. But here’s something very possible: in the two days - or even the week of the fight - no attention would be paid to a series of three $5,000 bets made at 10 different Vegas sports books or several betting websites. So that would amount to $15,000 at 10 books for a total of a $150,000 total bet (or invested would be more accurate). With $150,000 at 21-to-one, simple math tells me that’s a profit of $3.15 million.
If it still seems implausible to you and you want to cling to your fantasy that judges are just having an epidemic of bad days and random incompetence as many in the boxing establishment and media would have you believe, I have just one question:
Oh. Who’s being naïve?
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