Boxing fans stiffen up after a close fights ends, worried that the judges will drop the ball and award the win to the wrong guy. It happens on a monthly basis, it seems, and so watchers at Barclays Center and on HBO sat prepared to hurl unkind words toward the ring or a (hopefully soft) object at their television while the cards were collected and tabulated for the Bernard Hopkins-Tavoris Cloud main event Saturday night.
Hallelujahs instead were exhaled, as the scores -- 116-112, 116-112, 117-111 -- were read by Michael Buffer, and the 48-year-old Hopkins was rightly awarded for his superlative ring generalship, a variety which has to put him on a short list, or maybe at the top of that short list of all-time technical wizards.
We rail, we spew venom, we call for federal oversight when they get it wrong, so it's only fair that we also bang the drum loudly when they get it right, because if we don't, we fall pray to lapsing into a belief mode that these judges never get it right.
So, John Poturaj, Tom Schreck and John Stewart, congratulations. You got it right Saturday night, and that deserves ample praise.
I'm not being flippant. One could argue that people shouldn't be praised excessively for doing their job, merely for being competent, but judging a prizefight is no easy task. Time and again, year after year, I see judges giving the win to the man who threw more punches, even if that man didn't land more than his foe, or the quality of the blows were not superior to those of the man who got screwed out of a deserved win. On Saturday at Barclays Center, CompuBox statistics showed that Cloud threw 650 punches to 417 for Hopkins through 12 rounds, and yet the judges showed themselves to be sage watchers who gave Hopkins credit for his exemplary command of the squared circle.
Please join me in offering a tip of the cap to the arbiters selected by New York State Athletic Commission chair Melvina Lathan. Props to judges Poturaj, Schreck and Stewart: On Saturday night, they got it right, and probably saved more than one poor soul from having to trudge to the local retailer to replace a smashed TV screen.