No city does big boxing matches better than Las Vegas (see editorial above). And no state handles the judging of those matches worse than Nevada.
A year ago, two out of three judges somehow scored the WBO welterweight title bout in favor of Timothy Bradley, when just about everyone else who watched the Las Vegas fight — in person or on pay-per-view — knew Manny Pacquiao had won. It was such an embarrassment to the state that U.S. Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and John McCain, R-Ariz., sponsored legislation to create a federal body to oversee the sport.
Yet last weekend, one of the two judges who butchered the Bradley-Pacquiao bout was ringside for Saturday’s junior middleweight unification title fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. And C.J. Ross blew it again, scoring the fight a draw when Mr. Mayweather clearly had won. Fortunately, the other two judges actually watched the fight, and Mr. Mayweather was declared the victor by majority decision.
Boxing is on the ropes already because of a lack of superstars and the growth of mixed martial arts. Yet few events can match the buzz and economic impact of a Strip megafight. Las Vegas and boxing need each other. And horrible judging in a city with legal sports betting can call into question the integrity of that marriage. Ms. Ross never should have been allowed within 10 miles of Saturday’s fight.
On Tuesday, Ms. Ross announced she was taking a leave from the sport; in all likelihood, that leave will become permanent, according to the Review-Journal’s Steve Carp. Nevada Athletic Commission Chairman Bill Brady, meanwhile, said changes to the process of selecting officials will be in place by the end of this month. And commission Executive Director Keith Kizer said a mandatory seminar will be held in October or November for all Nevada judges.
“We won’t be a rubber stamp anymore,” Mr. Brady said. Hooray for that high standard.
As Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney wrote Wednesday, the best judges should work the biggest fights. There can be no more boxing embarrassments in Nevada. The state and the sport simply can’t afford it.