Top Rank president Todd duBoef is convinced boxing has a credibility problem when it comes to its judges.
He believes he has a way to improve the situation.
DuBoef is proposing that Adalaide Byrd, Steve Weisfeld and John Keane, the judges who will work Saturday’s fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, meet with the two fighters before the bout and explain to them precisely what they will be looking for in scoring the fight.
DuBoef would videotape the meeting and then air it on the HBO Pay Per View telecast and also inside the MGM Grand Garden before the fight.
"We capture the referee in the fighters’ locker rooms before the fight giving instructions," duBoef said Wednesday at the MGM Grand during the final news conference for Pacquiao-Marquez IV. "Why not the judges?"
He talked to the Nevada Athletic Commission about his idea, and the NAC was receptive. The judges will attend a meeting with both fighters’ camps after Friday’s weigh-in at the Grand Garden. However, executive director Keith Kizer said he will speak on behalf of the judges and go over the criteria the judges will be looking for in scoring the fight.
NAC chairman Bill Brady said the magnitude of this fight combined with the history of the three previous fights warranted this unprecedented action. Judges in Nevada never are invited to rules meetings before working fights. However, the referee always is made available to both camps to explain the rules and to go over instructions in each fighter’s dressing room the night of the fight.
"We want the public to know that this process is transparent," Brady said. "This is a very big fight, and it’s important that we’re all on the same page."
Brady said HBO requested the judges be present for the meeting, and duBoef wanted the judges to be videotaped explaining how they will score the fight so the public would get a better understanding of what to look for.
"I’m not sure fans really know what to look for when they’re scoring a fight at home," duBoef said. "This would be a great way to educate them."
Instead, Kizer will be on camera doing the explaining, saying he can fill that advocate’s role for duBoef without subjecting the judges to added scrutiny.
"I think the public’s only confusion on the scoring is that they think the judges keep a running total," Kizer said. "It’s round-by-round scoring, and each round is scored separately, then turned in."
In the wake of controversial decisions in high-profile fights the past few years, including all three of Pacquiao’s fights with Marquez and, most recently, Pacquiao’s June 9 split-decision loss to Timothy Bradley, duBoef said boxing’s already shaky image has taken additional hits in terms of credibility.
"There’s a perception among fans that there’s no rhyme or reason for how the judges score fights," duBoef said. "And when they see something like Pacquiao-Bradley, they lose interest in the sport.
"As a promoter, I need consumer confidence to be high. If there’s a flawed process, we need to fix it. Consumers have to have faith in what they’re watching, and by having the judges explain up front what they’re going to look for, the fans know going in what to expect and how the fight will be scored. We’re trying to rehabilitate, educate and reform the process."
Brady said he wants to tread lightly in terms of making the judges available before working the fight, and he is reluctant to allow them to speak, though he might be agreeable to having them clarify their positions as they pertain to how they determine whether or not a certain punch is considered a scoring blow.
"We’re breaking new ground here," he said. "We want to make sure we don’t go too far and expose the judges to anything that might influence their doing their job."
■ NOTES – Kizer said Pacquiao’s official purse will be $8.6 million and Marquez’s will be $3 million. But Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said when PPV and other revenue streams are added in, Pacquiao will make approximately $26 million and Marquez $6 million. … Friday’s weigh-in at the Grand Garden is open to the public, with the main event fighters expected on the scales at approximately 2:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.