Olympic boxing

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 23, 2008

I watched some more Olympic boxing last night and it further confirmed my disdain for the system. The bout I watched was the light flyweight bout between Irishman Paddy Barnes and Zou Shiming of China. When all was said and done, Shiming had won 15-0.

I'm not going to say Shiming lost -- I'm honestly not sure -- but he didn't win 15-0. In the first round, Shiming was ahead 1-0 when Barnes landed a clean, solid blow to Shiming's chin. But Barnes wasn't awarded a point, Shiming was. For getting hit, apparently. Talk about tails-I-win, heads-you-lose.

Of course, this sort of bizarre scoring, by the later rounds, distorts the bout. Barnes, down a substantial amount, has to take chances and risks he wouldn't normally have to and Shiming lands more blows.

NBC, to its credit, had a short segment on some of the atrocious officiating and judging in the boxing system -- and the Barnes-Shiming bout was one of those featured. They noted, accurately, that the way the system currently "works," (three of the five judges must register a "hit" within one second of each other for it to count) really doesn't. They gave the example of a four-punch flurry. If all four land, the odds of all of them being scored is practically nil. Three of four isn't likely either. Two of four? One of four? The way this tournament has gone, the most likely outcome is actually that none of them score.

Perhaps the most outrageous outcome was in the bout between Frenchman Alexis Vastine and the Dominican Republic's Felix Diaz. Both fighters were holding on to each other during the match. Too much of that can get you a warning, or even points deducted. Early on, Diaz was the worse offender as he would hold on to Vastine and then throw uppercuts. That's fine in MMA, but highly illegal in boxing. The referee did nothing.

Late in the fourth round, as Vastine held on by a point and both fighters were grabbing on to each other, the referee stepped in and awarded the fight to Diaz by hitting Vastine with a two-point penalty. With less than 20 seconds left, there was no way for Vastine to come back.

In soccer, or basketball, as the clock winds down referees are loath to call ticky-tack fouls that could decide the outcome of the match. It has to be a pretty serious foul to get called -- if then. That sort of respectful restraint for the competitors didn't appear in that boxing match.

And that's just what any average Joe can see on the television screen. There were credible allegations of funny business going on behind the scenes too.

Boxing has become the Summer Olympics' ice dancing -- a sport so corrupt that it's no longer a sport, it's a show.

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