The complex world of boxing scoring

By Mauricio Sulaimán
Son of José Sulaimán – WBC President

This past weekend, the boxing world enjoyed two fights of the highest level of importance, quality and emotion.

On one hand, Katie Taylor, Olympic champion and undisputed lightweight champion, fought for the first time at home, in front her people in Dublin, Ireland, against undisputed super lightweight world champion Chantelle Cameron of England. Two undefeated, undisputed champions and holders of the four belts of both divisions.

On the other hand, at the MGM in Las Vegas, the undisputed lightweight champion, Devin Haney, from the United States, fought against the two-time Olympic champion and former world champion in three divisions, Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko.

Both fights were in front of completely packed arenas, and they resulted in very close fights, Razor-thin decisions, but with the best possible quality, both technically and emotionally, as well as dramatic. It was up to the judges to determine the winner, and as often happens in our beloved sport, whenever there is a close fight, the decision was controversial and opinions were divided among fans and the world’s media, especially in the Haney vs. Lomachenko.

Boxing is bound to be controversial and come under fire from the press and fans whenever there is a big fight, and it turns out to be close.

There is a big difference between what the three judges who score the fights see versus what absolutely everyone else sees, whether it be in the front row, the last seat in the arena, or on television.

VISION – The judge is seated in a unique place; The only view perspective for them is what happens in the ring as they are right there (even though it is not necessarily the best position), while everyone else has much more spectrum of view and On TV you can see what the cameras, with different angles, project.

IMPARTIALITY – The judge is absolutely impartial, while the others have, in most cases, are biased towards their favorite on the fight, and in the case of fans this favoritism can even be passionate, whether due to nationality, fan favorite, popularity, and even , for having bet in favor of one of the two fighters.

CONCENTRATION – The judge is totally concentrated on the actions of the ring during the three minutes of duration; while the others have countless distractions during the round in the stadium or at home, watching on TV. Think about it, how many distractions are there during an event..

JUDGING CRITERIA – There are guidelines for judging and identifying the winner of each round; there are many factors that can confuse the effectiveness of one or another fighter. Only punches connected in the valid zone count, body punches have great value although those to the face are more spectacular; quantity, quality and the damage caused by the impacts are qualified, and the domain of the actions and even the aggressiveness are considered. Each round is independent, so it’s like scoring 12 different fights, since the action does not accumulate. As they say: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens in each episode is recorded, and the next one is another story.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONDITION – The judge is physically and mentally rested, they are prohibited from drinking alcohol for at least one day before the fight, while fans in some cases, enjoy one or many beers or other drinks before, and during the fight, which It certainly has an effect on the mood. I think I`m explaining myself correctly in a sober manner?

SPORT OF APPRECIATION – Scoring in Boxing is of appreciation, as are very few others. It is what the official sees that is considered to score the round. There are no goals, runs, baskets or a clear score, it is appreciation, and for the reasons described above, each individual can see different things within the same action. As fans, whoever likes X only sees the blows that X connects, and not the ones that Y lands.

CROWD NOISE – The ring official is not supposed to be influenced by the fans reactions and noise as this can be extreme in some instances, however for fans the noise can mislead to believe such is due to effectiveness of the favorite fighter. It is customary that whenever the house favorite lands, even a soft blow the crowd roars and when the non favorite fighter lands there is complete silence….

There are a few other technical things to consider, but I feel like I’ve got the point across.

In no way do I intend to justify failures that have stained our sport, there have definitely been inexplicable scores, difficult to understand and much more to accept. This happens due to the official’s incompetence, inability, inexperience or simply having a bad night, which happens to all of us. What I want to point out is that boxing is an honourable sport.

Chantelle Cameron went to Ireland and won at Taylor’s home, a close fight, but based on great boxing, aggressiveness and forcefulness. Devin Haney defeated crowd favorite Lomachenko based on great body punching, ring command and actions. Both fights were very close, any result could be accepted: either fighter winning by one round or a draw, therefore THERE WAS NO ROBBERY, as the social networks shout everywhere. Let’s be responsible and admit the facts, 2 great events happened and boxing won, dont let the bandwagon of negativism carry you towards tarnishing our sport.

Vasiliy Lomachenko deserves all the praise and recognition, what an incredible demonstration of will and greatness coming back from adversity, the pandemic, a tough loss to Lopez with a delicate injury, and then the horrors of the evil invasion of his country. Even while losing the fight, he won and has a bright future ahead. Devin Haney deserves all the praise and recognition as well, a young kid who has been forever irresponsibly minimized but has performed in an incredible fashion against very tough competition and simply by looking at his last three fights, winning against Kambosos twice and now Lomachenko, the future is bright!

Did you know…?

Devin Haney began his professional career, from the age of 16, in bars and restaurants in Tijuana. And after that, he has been close to the WBC; Today he is the king of the world, a wonderful success story. Vasiliy Lomachenko is perhaps the greatest amateur boxer of all time, twice Olympic gold with only one loss in almost 500 amateur fights, is a pride of the Ukraine as he even went to the frontline to defend his country during the current invasion. Both fighters are the pride of The WBC and make boxing better in all aspects.

Today’s anecdote

My dad had just passed away. I was in my room in Las Vegas after a fight when Don Majeski called me up to introduce me to an amateur boxer. A shy but smiling young man, it was Devin Haney, he came to see me, standing beside his father. Since that day they have been very close to us, and we will never forget, how they both came running from the airport to be present at one of the anniversary masses of Don Jose.

I welcome your feedback at [email protected]

Parker-Opelu Weigh-in
New Prograis opponent named

Top Boxing News

We have a few rules to make our comment section more enjoyable for everyone.
1. Keep comments related to boxing.
2. Be respectful, polite and keep it clean.
3. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.
Offending posts will be removed.
Repeat offenders will be put on moderation.
  • “Boxing is bound to be controversial and come under fire from the press and fans whenever there is a big fight, and it turns out to be close.”
    Yet, you just don’t hear about this sort of issue in MMA. Maybe now and again but no where near as often as in boxing. Somehow boxing, manages to deliver a clearly controversial or seemingly corrupt decision. There’s a better way to do this. There’s better oversight and management to be had. How long will they screw the fans and the fighters this way? You’ll nerve fully erase controversial decisions, but boxing can do better than this.

    • Boxing and the sanctioning bodies have done nothing about atrocious scoring for decades so where does Sulaiman get the idea he can preach about it.

    • “There’s better oversight and management to be had.”

      There’s no doubt about this, but what’s the solution?

      This is from the FIFA website:

      ” The final composition of the FIFA Council consists of 37 members: one President, elected by the FIFA Congress; eight vice presidents, and 28 other members elected by the member associations – each for a term of four years.”

      Might not be perfect, since there has been corruption within FIFA as well, but perhaps something along these lines could be assembled for boxing that would replace the current governing bodies. I like the idea of term limits, instead of having the same corrupt tools in place indefinitely. The Board would consist of International members. Just a thought…

    • You guys pick and choose what to be outraged about. The only issue here is the favoritism didnt go the direction you guys wanted. You had nothing to say about Lomo skipping his mandatory with Haney. No issue with Tyson’s loaded gloves and PEDs. No issue with Canelo or Valdes PEDs. We had a close fight with 7-8 swing rounds and now the outrage.
      Were Im from you have to take the titles from the champion. Loma didnt do that. I have no sympathy for Loma. Its karma as far as Im concerned. Should have took the fight 4 years ago like he was supposed to.
      Dont cry now when its your guy not getting the favor. You been turning a blind eye to others.

      • @NJ Boxing I’m not outraged by the decision in the least, and I do agree there were a whole bunch of swing rounds. I just think the sport needs FAR more oversight, and I’d like to see changes made.

      • “Where I’m from you have to take the titles from the champion.”
        – Scoring a fight round-by-round, doesn’t matter who is the champion……

      • Wow…what a mindless rant that has zero to do with the article. Simply put, Lomachenko outworked Haney. The current fighters, former fighters and analyst that were vocal about the decision are saying the same thing fans are saying: Lomachenko got stiffed on the cards. This “where I’m from you have to take the title from the champion” is the biggest BS statement created by another non-boxer. My man, as a champion, you don’t get these extra invisible points before you even jump in the ring…just because you’re the champion. Haney had some solid moments but Lomachenko simply out hustled him. Side note: There’s no such thing as Karma.

      • Not true. I saw the fight as a draw but on a general note one can hardly watch a fight card without some outrageous judging & officiating. This has been a stain on boxing for decades. When have the sanctioning bodies done anything about this? As a result, people have had enough and are gravitating to other sports (myself included) i.e. boxing is in big trouble.

    • Right but you can’t compare MMA to boxing. MMA is usually a single organization (UFC, Pride, ONE, Bellator). If these organization fought under one manner there would be more “controversial” scoring.

      MMA (UFC) is shrouded in double standards. If Dana likes you he’ll let his fighters make money while under UFC contract such as engaging in boxing, Conor Mcgregor. If he doesn’t like you he won’t let you boxing, Francis Ngaggou and GSP. As was said, most of the time MMA gets the decisions right.

      Boxing will do better when fans demand better and not a day sooner. Boxing fans demand better by refusing to support the sport financially until they clean it up. Fans won’t do that so it’ll always be what it is. Fans will complaint but they ALWAYS come back.

  • “IMPARTIALITY – The judge is absolutely impartial…”

    Bwahaha! Gedoudahere with yr baloney!

  • This is why Devin’s dad gets to see the judges scorecards (or had an informant go and get them for him) around the 9th and 10th rounds. Devin’s dad gets this privilege because he was in good with the Sulaimáns from when Devin was an amateur and fighting in Tijuana as a pro?
    I would be fine if there was open scoring with this fight and then maybe Moretti wouldn’t have dared score the 10th for Haney. If Loma knew he was down after 10, he would have tried harder to secure a draw by going all out in the 12th (probably).
    Devin’s dad knew the scorecards after the 10th round, don’t be fooled.
    Lima’s corner didn’t know the scores, the fans didn’t know (but everyone watching wanted to know how far Loma was down after the 10th and 11th.
    Open scoring in unification and undisputed title fights in the US, that is a solution for corrupt scoring.
    Haney may have won by 1 point with an even round (6-5-1). But the 10th round wasn’t the best round to pick as even round.

    • I don’t think Bill Haney knew the scores. But I do know with 45 years of boxing experience that with Open Scoring, you are treating the symptom of the problem, not curing the disease. If a judge wants to screw over a fighter, all that Open Scoring does, is you see the robbery taking place as the fight is happening, rather than waiting til the end. It makes no difference. What makes a difference is harsher accountability for judges who turn in bad cards. More than two bad cards, they are suspended, and if they don’t improve, they are fined and shown the door. A judges assets and bank accounts should be subject to inspection before and after the fight. You also have a pool of about 20 names with a lottery drawing the day of the fight so that no one, not the promoter, nor the matchmaker, nor sanctioning body knows who will be assigned until the day of the fight. In World Title fights around the world, at least 3/4 of ref and judges should be internationally represented. All the sanctioning bodies ensure this for all fights NOT in the USA or UK. But in the USA/UK the promoter, Arum, Delahoya, or advisor Haymon selects judges from a list. In the UK, its Hearn most of the time. But in other parts of the world such as Asia, the Ukrain, the Pacific Realm, Austrailia, you don’t have these judging problems like in the USA and UK. Why is that? Because outside of America and the UK, you have international judges and refs.

    • Open scoring will change the sport to half fight, half bike race. You get a good first half, followed by dancing and backpedaling. The excitement and suspense of constantly being one punch away from changing your life and history will be eliminated, making it more of a sparring contest. Yes, there are benefits, but they do not outweigh the cons.

      • Exactly Peter, the WBC has an optional 4th and 8th round Open Scoring option where everyone can know the scores, or an amended option where only the corners know the scores. But the local commission can always choose not to use it. They axed it in the USA, Canada, and the UK. It’s used all the time in Japan for WBC title fights, and some regions of Mexico. A few other countries as well. It has its supporters and opposers. I don’t like it for the reasons you stated above. But it’s a rule who’s opinions differ on its use.

        • Thank you brother. 8 was t aware that it was eliminated here but I’m use in Japan. I thought it was still an option overall.

  • “What I want to point out is that boxing is an honourable sport.”


    Boxing has been corrupt since its beginning and instead of getting better it just gets worse. There are videotapes of Don King having sit downs with the Mafia. He’s still around the same as ever.

    Boxing attracts the underworld because of its violence and because it is the easiest sport to fix.

    And Las Vegas was founded by organized crime in the Mojave desert with the sole purpose then, as now, to fleece the suckers.

    Boxing is an international sport. Why should foreign countries accept the constant fake decisions in places like Las Vegas? ?

    After a prelim fight last night,  Raymond Muratalla vs Jeremia Nakathila, the announcer did a post fight interview with the winner, Muratalla. He asked him who he’d like to fight next, Muratalla said he’d like to fight the winner of the main event. The announcer responded, “So you think you are ready for Haney?”  The fix was in. The prelim is online but does not include the post-fight interview with Muratalla.

    • Wow. In plain sight. I did not see the post fight interview, but I will look for it.

  • I have boxed and have been a student of the game historically. I do not need Sulaiman to lecture me on how to judge a fight. Guess we should trust him and not our lying eyes. All he is doing is covering for the Nevada State Boxing commissions terrible judging of the Loma-Haney fight. If it was up to Sulaiman, he would try to explain to us why the sky is really red. ‘well you know, if the rings of Saturn are facing north it upsets the way the sun hits the clouds..blah blah. Guy is another lying sac of corrupt SHITE! Loma won the damn fight and everyone knows it Including the HANEY’S!

    • They never should have allowed 3 judges from the USA to judge between two fighter with one also from the USA. That in itself reeks of potential corruption.

  • haney – loma should have been a draw but it was not a robbery . canelo – golovkin -1 and – 2 were robberies. Moreti , Cheatam , Weisfeld , need to be out. The L.V. commission needs to “clean house”.

    • Not only LV, but all of boxing needs an enema.

      My apologies for the visuals.

    • I have lived in Vegas 44 years. There is absolutely no shot that the NVBoxing Commision will do a damn thing about these refs. This is a good old boys town, and all the people that run it are interconnected and take care of each other no matter what!

  • There is only one solution: National Commission. Until we have a national commission in place, you, the rest of the alphabet soup and the promotors will have zero restrictions bad will continue to run amok.

    Did you know…..

    Boxing has had corruption since the beginning. From Carbo, to King, the Mob, Sulaimán, Arum, Haymon, Lee and a long list of others have continually stained what I believe is the first and greatest sport there is.

    Today’s anecdote

    I was reading articles first thing in the morning and I came across this one. To no surprise at all, I read about a problem trying to solve itself.

    • A national commission would not fix judging. As much as I dislike Sulaiman, he’s actually right on most of the points he lists here: what you’re seeing on television is a completely different vantage point from those judges have. Not better, not worse, but different.

  • What made this fight controversial was the FACT that all three judges were from the United States, a foolish move by Loma’s team to begin with, when Haney as such is an American. Even Haney when he fought in Australia insisted their be no judges from Australia. Say what you will, judges can also be biased and swayed by the event from promoters and the sanctioning bodies. Judges like many people are not above reproach.

  • Dear sir,you seem full of anecdotes,, just open your eyes for a few seconds and clean out your ears….. There is a problem with judging, there is a problem with referees , and the image of boxing now is worse than the” one organisation” days

  • I saw the fight as a draw. Lomachenko’s losses to Teo and Haney he started too late and let the young fighters gain confidence and get ahead on the cards. You can clearly see he was a better fighter in both fights but I can’t argue the score cards in either fight. Now if forced too I would have more of an argument in the Haney fight.

  • I like how Sulaiman references Devin’s 10 fights in Tijuana early in his career. The 10 fighters combined records at the time were 93-121-11. (Devin was still toiling around down there 6 years ago). Talk about fights Devin couldn’t lose and padded records. Devin at 24 is still like a 20-0 fighter, or 19-0-1. IF Lomachenko really had 4 rounds in the bank by the end of round 8 vs Haney, that fight was a draw.

  • Close fight ? You’re what’s wrong with boxing if you think that was close. What promoter is paying ur f6cking bills. Don’t try and pretty up that result there would not be such an outrage if it was such a close fight.

  • I think perhaps the best way a fight can be judged is having 5 or more judges with earplugs in watching a fight on TV in a room without distractions. Scoreless can be submitted remotely. Technology allows for us to judge fights more effectively.

    • Loma won, but punch stats do lie. One of the house’s guys – just like the judges – is entering them as he sees them, or as he is told to see them, or not see them.

  • Judge Dave Moretti knew what he was doing. He obviously wanted Haney to won the fight. Why that is, hasn’t been established yet.

  • Let’s see here…Michael Spinks-Eddie Davis, Pernell Whitaker-JC Chavez, Hearns-Leonard II, Jeff Fenech-Azumah Nelson I, JC Chavez-Frankie Randall II, Lamar Murphy-Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Floyd Mayweather-JL Castillo I, Roy Jones-Antonio Tarver I, Joel Casamayor-Jose Armando Santa Cruz, Triple G-Canelo I and II, Josh Taylor, Jack Catterall, and a million other crappy and/or corrupt decisions under the WBC’s watch within the last forty years. And the judges sitting at ringside are impartial? As Judge Judy once quipped, don’t pee on my head and tell me it’s raining. And another one for you, Mr. Sulaiman…just remember when you’re pointing the finger at the fans or anyone else, there’s usually three pointing back at you. You better recognize and chiggity check yo’ self.

  • Lomachenko outworked Haney, pressed the action, made it entertaining and won the fight. Period.

  • False narrative WBC. Loma won period, don’t hide behind BS judges, the people are tired of the BS

  • Sulaiman is full of it, failed attempt to put a positive spin on a fight that that ignored the #1 basic rule when fighters from two differing countries face off against each other, NEVER allow judges from the same country of one of the participants. Fact, Haney a USA fighter had three USA judges, judging his fight and a USA referee. Stinks to high heaven as the fix was in.

  • >