By David Finger
Photos: Mario Vega and Robert Richards
Day three of the WBO 30th annual congress kicked off at 1 in the afternoon inn Wednesday, October 25. The late start gave members the opportunity to explore Havana in the morning before the ship left Cuba at 5pm.
Although no business was conducted that afternoon, it was nonetheless an important day with the officials seminars taking place that afternoon in the Maui room.
It had been a rough year for boxing judges with fans and in the media, but although boxing judges took a hit with some controversial decisions, the exceptional training that was conducted by the WBO might have mollified some of the fans and pundits had they also had the opportunity to sit in on the judges training seminars.
Luis Bautista Salas gave opening introduction for the judges seminar before the training kicked off with Robin Taylor, one of New York’s most esteemed judges. Taylor was a former referee in amateur boxing starting in 1993, and professional judge in New York since 2001. She spoke of the importance of concentration for boxing judges.
“Skill of concentration comes from practice,” Taylor told the members in attendance. “The process of eliminating distractions should start well before the fight.”
She also warned of four distractions to be mindful of: lack of rest, crowd noise, shouting from the corners, and photography. She advised judges to practice concentration by utilizing concentration exercises.
“When judging a fight your mind should function like a mental computer.” She added.
John Duggan then spoke to officials and expressed his opposition to noise cancelling headphones as discussed by Taylor, and how to deal with photographers in front of judges.
From there notes judge Levi Martinez of New Mexico conducted a training, emphasizing on the scoring zone and scoring criteria. He advised judges to “concentrate on the scoring zone” when judging a fight.
“The only thing as a judge you have to pay attention to is this little area,” Martinez told the judges in attendance. “I call it a 64-inch television. Fighters come in, now I have a 32 inch tv. They go back into their corner and now we have maybe a 24 inch tv. Your area gets smaller as the bell rings.”
He then had Gino Rodriguez assist him as he demonstrated what to look out for when judging a fight.
“Scoring criteria is hard effective punches in the scoring zone that cause a disruption in the other fighter.” Martinez added. “Number two we have is effective aggressive. If you have the hard effective punches that disrupt the other fighter, I think you really don’t have to go to two three and four. That’s part of the scoring criteria.”
Closing out the judges training was a exceptional session headed by noted Boxing judge Steve Weisfeld. Weisfeld discussed the factors that could lead to a wrong decision, and defined a mistake as “a wrong decision based on faulty judgement, inadequate knowledge or inattention.”
He then discussed the twenty mistakes made by judges in depth. Weisfeld’ list consisted of weighing factors incorrectly, confusion on scoring knockdowns, not correctly filling out the scorecards, scoring illegal punches because of referee’s silence, not paying attention to changes in the bout order, mixing up the boxers, failure to communicate with referee, the lazy last round (which typically is the worst scored round in a fight, warning judges that they must remain alert and be mentally and physically prepared to go 12 rounds), leaving judge’s chair early, not enough commitment and practice, using social media (warning judges that “when we are at the fights were not fans”), not acting professionally, making predictions, not being prepared, overwhelmed by the moment (including a discussion of panicking vs choking), not in the moment, negativity, not getting enough rest, oversensitivity to reaction, and finally being afraid to be in the minority.
Weisfeld then had the judges in attendance review several notable rounds and had them score the rounds, including the ninth round of Pacquiao-Horn (most notably a majority of judges said it was a 10-9 round for pacquiao while five judges, including Levi Martinez, had it 10-8).
Rounding off the training seminars was the referee’s training seminar, which was kicked off by notable WBO member Gino Rodriguez.