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NAC executive director stands behind judges’ scoring at The Cosmopolitan

Don’t expect the state attorney general’s office to get involved this time after the latest unpopular decision in the boxing world.

After reviewing the judges’ work from Saturday’s card at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett said he stood behind their scoring in the welterweight nontitle fight between Timothy Bradley and Diego Chaves and the World Boxing Association super lightweight title fight between champion Mauricio Herrera and Jose Benavidez Jr.

The Bradley fight was scored a draw. Julie Lederman of New York had Chaves winning 116-112, Burt Clements of Reno had Bradley ahead 115-113, and Craig Metcalfe of Canada scored it 114-114. Many media seated at ringside thought Bradley won by a comfortable margin, and the decision enraged Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promotes Bradley.

Arum claimed the draw was just as controversial as the split decision given to Bradley over Manny Pacquiao in 2012. After that fight, Arum went to the attorney general and demanded an investigation. The matter was looked into, and no wrongdoing was found.

The Herrera-Benavidez fight was even more controversial than Bradley-Chaves, with all three judges scoring the fight for the challenger Benavidez. Dave Moretti of Las Vegas scored it 117-111, and Max DeLuca of California and Eric Cheek of Reno had it 116-112.

“When you look at the scoring of both fights, the judges were in the majority 86 percent in the Bradley fight and 83 percent in the Herrera fight,” Bennett said Tuesday. “That’s a pretty good job. Julie was in the majority in all 12 of her rounds.

“I thought the Bradley-Chaves fight was an aggressive, hard-fought, forward-moving fight. There were a lot of close rounds.”

Bennett, a former fight judge, did not attend the card. He was at the MGM Grand Garden for a competing card, at which Amir Khan easily defeated Devon Alexander in the main event.

Bennett said he watched a replay of the Bradley-Chaves fight twice without the sound. He would not say who he had winning, but that it was a close fight and he talked to the judges.

He said he has not watched the Herrera-Benavidez fight but has spoken to the judges. He said while Benavidez was indeed laying on the ropes for a good portion of the fight, the judges told him they did not think Herrera’s punches were effective enough to be in the scoring zone often enough to give him the round.

“The judges also told me that Benavidez landed the more accurate scoring blows and did so more frequently than Herrera,” Bennett said.

“I understand where the fans are unhappy and the media saw it differently. But a few things. First, these judges are very experienced, and they’re trained to watch the entire three minutes of every round. Two, they are right in front of the action and have a better vantage point than the fans and most of the media. Third, there’s no vested interest on the part of the judges as to who wins, while the fans are rooting for one fighter or the other.”

Bennett also pointed out that media members scoring the fight are often engaging in social media or conversing among themselves or taking notes for their stories, which could be a distraction. It’s an argument he and his predecessor, Keith Kizer, have used when there has been media backlash over the outcome of a fight.

“I’m not saying the media’s wrong,” Bennett said. “I’m just pointing out there’s a big difference in how they’re watching the fight compared to how the judges are.”

Bennett also said the officials were vetted with representatives of Top Rank, which promotes Bradley and Benavidez, and Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Herrera, weeks before the selection was made.

“We had a long conversation with (Top Rank vice president) Carl Moretti and (Golden Boy VP) Eric Gomez, and we ultimately came to a consensus on who to use for these fights,” Bennett said. “Mr. Arum is entitled to his opinion, but he does not get to select the officials who work in Nevada.”

Bennett said even if only one card had been scheduled for last weekend, he still would have brought in outside judges.

“We’ve been doing that for a lot of the big fight cards this year,” he said. “I’m not buying the idea we didn’t have enough quality officials to work both cards. We had qualified judges and referees at both the MGM and The Cosmopolitan, and I’m satisfied with their performance.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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