Report/Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
Day 2 of the 53rd NABF annual convention in Orlando, Florida kicked off with a quick leadership award for Mike Mazzuli who had to depart back home and wouldn’t be on hand for the awards banquet Saturday night.
Judge David Sutherland was introduced to speak on his journey through the boxing world of officiating and his advice on navigating the sometimes choppy waters therein.
The keynote speaker on the morning was former world champ and current ESPN boxing analyst and Hall-of-Famer Timothy Bradley.
Bradley gave a very moving speech on officiating. Bradley asked, “If a fighter can be disciplined and held accountable for fouls, not making weight and other infractions, why can’t officials be held to same?” Bradley is in favor of real time scoring like in other sports. Baseball, hockey, basketball and other sports have real time scoring- everyone knows the scores as the competition is ongoing.
Bradley is also interested in spotlighting judges and referees on a broadcast, to in a sense, humanize them, show their background in the sport and show the viewers things from the perspective of the judge or referee based on their background. He has been instrumental in implementing a feature called ‘The Judge’s View.’ “The judges each see the fighter differently from each other, based on their vantage point as well as their preference.”
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman expressed, “What I am seeing today is one of the greatest moments at a convention! What Timothy Bradley read today shows his love for the sport. He is opening the door of his media platform. I would like to invite you (Bradley) to be an ambassador for the sport.” Bradley then took questions from the assembly. He was invited to not only use his platform to spotlight ring officials, but to invite his peers such as Joe Tessitore and Mark Kriegel to attend these seminars and enlighten themselves on the perspective of ring officials. He was receptive to the idea.
Referee Tom Taylor then spoke about his journey from boxing fan to world class referee. Taylor also stressed the importance of having media present at conventions and training seminars. “Improving the sport requires a collective effort,” said Taylor.
Judge Barry Lindenman gave a talk on the WBC remote scoring project. The remote scoring project was born during the COVID pandemic. It allows judges from anywhere in the world to actually score a fight and have those scores tabulated for accuracy and consistency. 101 judges have participated in just under three years. There has been a 92% accuracy among those scores, meaning that in a 12 round fight, the judges agreed on 11 of the 12 rounds. There have been 350 fights scored remotely for a total of 2,500 rounds.
After an early lunch break, twin officials training sessions commenced at 12:30. The referees session, administered by Thomas Taylor was held in Boca II while David Sutherland ran the judges training seminar in Caribbean V.
As promised, former champ and current ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley took in the training with eyes wide open, engaging with the instructor and his peers at every opportunity.
Referee’s pre-fight instructions, in ring commands, mechanics, enforcement of the rules, dealing with fouls, were all covered by Taylor with plenty of feedback and Q&A by his fellow refs.
Sutherland’s seminar was entitled “Difficult Decisions for Judges.” The degree of scoring a round, as in: close-moderate-decisive-extreme decisive was proposed, as well as the criteria for such scoring, was broached, as it has been for many years. Several rounds, demonstrating each possibility were shown on a large screen and scored, with subsequent discussion following.