Today we are looking at the ten worst judges’ decisions in boxing history. I know that none of these fights came before 1947, but I am trying to limit this to bouts I have seen or read quite a bit about. I am sure bad decisions happened in the early 1900s, but I am trying to stay out of that era for now.
10) Oscar De La Hoya W 12 Felix Sturm
This fight was the tune-up at middleweight for Oscar’s highly anticipated fight with Bernard Hopkins. Let’s face it; nothing was going to stop that fight from happening! Oscar was the busier of the two, throwing 792 punches to Sturm’s 541, but with a success rate of just 24% – compared to his opponent’s 43% – the stats suggest he was wayward and lacking the precision of a champion.
9) Timothy Bradley SD 12 Manny Pacquiao
Pacquiao landed more punches than Bradley in 10 of the 12 rounds, according to CompuBox statistics, and by the end of the bout, he had connected with 100 more punches. He was able to beat “Desert Storm” to the punch whenever he opened up, and when the decision was announced, Bradley was reduced to the “I have to watch the tape” defense to quiet questions about an undeserved win.
A ringside poll found 50 out of 53 ringside observers felt Pacquiao had won the fight.
8) Alfredo Escalera W 15 Tyrone Everett
Judge Lou Tress of Philadelphia scored the fight 145-143, and Judge Ismael Fernandez of Puerto Rico scored it 146-143, both in favor of Escalera. Referee Ray Solis of Mexico gave Everett the nod, 148-146. The AP scored the fight at ringside 146-141 for Everett. The decision was so bad that the ring announcer was told when announcing the decision to say that the decision was not yet official.
7) Felix Trinidad MD 12 Oscar de la Hoya
This was supposed to be a Hearns/Leonard-type fight, and it fell short as Oscar just out-boxed Trinidad all night long, winning the first nine rounds and then coasted the last three rounds. Coasting the last three rounds should be ok when you win the first nine rounds, but the judges somehow saw it differenty and scored the fight for Trinidad.
6) Lennox Lewis D12 Evander Holyfield
Ali/Frazier 1 it was not as this highly anticipated fight ended up being a bore-fest as Lewis dominated the fight behind a stiff jab and out-landed Holyfield by more than 200 punches.
Eugenia Williams, who should never have scored another fight after this one, favored Holyfield by a 115-113 score. She even scored the fifth round for Lewis, even though Lewis had the “edge” in punches landed by a 43-11 tally.
But her error wasn’t the only one, as judge Larry O’Connell invented a 115-115 draw to overrule Stanley Christodoulou, the only judge who watched the fight with his eyes open and scored it 116-113 for Lewis. In all honesty, the 116-113 was too close, but it’s boxing; what do you expect?
5) Pernell Whitaker D12 Julio Cesar Chavez
Chavez entered the fight with a perfect record of 87-0. Many experts considered him to be the undisputed pound-for-pound king of boxing, and many observers felt his inside game would be too much for his slick boxing opponent.
Whitaker was on another level compared to the slower Chavez. After three close early rounds, the difference between these two became painfully obvious to viewers. Whitaker was too slick for Julio to catch, and when they fought on the inside, Whitaker got the best of it.
The Alamo dome was packed with Chavez fans, and the arena became quieter and quieter as the fight went on. The decision was absurd, with the first judge scoring the fight 115-113, but at least he had the right fighter winning in Whitaker. The last two judges scored the fight 115-115.
4) Joel Casamayor SD 12 Jose Armando Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz out-landed Casamayor 246-129 and knocked him down. The fight at best was a 118-110 win for Cruz. Casamayor did nothing to win this bout, and it robbed the hard-working challenger of a much-deserved victory.
3) Peter Waterman W 10 Kid Gavilan
Protest over this decision caused the British Boxing Board of Control to hold a hearing on the matter, resulting in the revocation of the license of 71-year-old referee Ben Green. The fight was held in Waterman’s hometown, and the people were furious that he got the decision over the aging Gavilan.
2) Joe Louis SD 15 Jersey Joe Walcott
A fighter rarely apologizes to his opponent after a controversial decision, but that’s what happened on Dec. 5, 1947, when Joe Louis defeated Jersey Joe Walcott by split decision.
“After the decision, he said to me, ‘I’m sorry Joe,” Walcott told the newspapers from his dressing room after the disputed verdict.
Walcott had put Louis on the canvas in the first and fourth rounds and closed Louis left eye.
1) Jose Luis Ramirez SD 12 Pernell Whitaker
This was by far the worst decision I have ever seen, I am not even sure Ramirez won a round, but one judge scored him a 118-113 winner! When re-watching this fight and looking for reasons to score the fight for Ramirez, I could still only come up with three rounds. That’s it.
The decision was ugly but so was the aftermath, with members of the Whitaker camp throwing around accusations of corruption and score fixing. You can’t blame them. This was the worst decision of all time, and Whitaker got cheated of the victory he’d earned. Criminal.