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Tackling Injustice in the Ring: The Debate Over VAR and Judging in Boxing

Boxing, often hailed as the noble art, has always grappled with its share of controversies, from disputed decisions to the fragmented nature of its governance. The recent buzz around introducing Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology and the proposition of expanding the judges' panel to six in boxing matches brings this longstanding issue back into the spotlight.

VAR and Six Judges in Boxing: Knockout or Low Blow for the Sport?
VAR and Six Judges in Boxing: Knockout or Low Blow for the Sport?

The initiative, championed by the WBC and discussed by figures like Mauricio Sulaiman, Ben Shalom, and Eddie Hearn, aims to mitigate the instances of what many fans and fighters decry as "robberies" in the sport.

The idea of implementing VAR in boxing, particularly for superfights like Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk, is intriguing. It promises a fairer assessment of incidents such as cuts from punches or low blows, potentially correcting split-second misjudgments that can alter the course of a fight.

However, the practicalities of incorporating VAR raise several questions. The interruption of bouts for review, the potential loss of momentum for fighters, and the logistical feasibility during the limited rest periods between rounds are significant concerns. While the application for clarifying the cause of cuts seems more straightforward and beneficial, the overall impact of VAR on the flow and outcome of fights remains a contentious topic.

In the Ring with Technology: Can VAR Change Boxing's Controversial Decisions?
In the Ring with Technology: Can VAR Change Boxing's Controversial Decisions?

The suggestion to increase the number of judges from three to six aims to dilute the impact of potentially biased or mistaken scoring. This change could indeed offer a broader perspective on the fight, potentially reducing the frequency of controversial decisions. However, the efficacy of this measure is debatable, given the subjective nature of scoring in boxing. The core issue often lies not in the number of judges but in the need for greater transparency and accountability in the scoring process.

Reflecting on some of boxing's most controversial decisions—like the first fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley, or the draw between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez—it's tempting to speculate whether VAR or additional judges could have altered these outcomes. While VAR might have provided clearer evidence in specific instances, fundamentally changing the history of boxing is a tall order. The subjective interpretation of what constitutes effective aggression, defense, and ring generalship means that even with technological assistance, disagreements over fight outcomes are likely to persist.

The adoption of VAR and the expansion of the judging panel represent potential steps toward modernizing boxing and addressing its most persistent criticisms. However, the fragmented nature of the sport's governance, with its myriad of sanctioning bodies and regulatory commissions, poses a significant barrier to universal implementation. The debate over these proposals underscores a broader conversation about the balance between innovation and tradition in boxing, a sport deeply rooted in historical legacy yet in need of adaptation to meet contemporary expectations of fairness and transparency.

What's your take on introducing VAR and expanding the judges' panel in boxing? Could these changes help prevent future "robberies," or do they risk complicating the sport further? Share your thoughts below and let's discuss whether boxing should embrace these innovations or if there are better ways to ensure justice in the ring.


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