Named & Shamed: Judging the Judges (March 2016)

March 5th – Boxing’s latest visit to ‘dear old dirty’ Grozny, to paraphrase James Joyce via Steve Bunce, was always sure to produce some dodgy officiating.

Apri Ushtarkhanov stopped stopped Thomas Mashali after almost 4 minutes of the second round. No, that’s not a typo.

Ref Alexander Kalinkin also allowed the fight to continue when Mashali clearly was begging for a way out and not responding to instructions to step forward after collapsing to the canvas in a heap. He took some unnecessary punches as a result, all when he should have been enjoying his minute’s rest in the corner.

Home boxer Viskhan Murzabekov was upset by veteran Ali Funeka on a split decision. Sergey Litunov’s dissenting 117-111 card was openly biased.

The Browne-Chagaev heavyweight bauble main event was marred by a shoddy timekeeper.

With Browne dropped & hurt, 10 to 15 seconds were added at the end of the 6th, in hopes of Chagaev finishing the job, and once Browne had reasserted himself in round 7, the bell rang approximately 44 seconds early.

Laughable stuff. Browne eventually scored the upset win.

The foreigner’s subsequent failed VADA drug test is another matter, one which may be discussed here later once a decision has been come to by the sanctioning body etc.


A strange night too in Washington, as the Jessie Vargas-Sadam Ali vacant title fight at welterweight was marred by ref Tony Chevalier.

To quote Tim Starks of the Queensberry Rules: Chevalier was guilty of “missing a knockdown, pulling Vargas off Ali for no reason, not noticing that Vargas’ corner was waving a white towel, deciding to stop it at an odd moment, etc. etc.”

Worst card of the year? D.C. judge Lloyd Scaife’s effort in the Luis Ortiz-Tony Thompson (the home fighter) main event was quite unbelievable.

He scored round 1 just 10-9 for Ortiz, even though he dropped Thompson. He scored the 5th round for Thompson, even though Ortiz clearly dominated it. Worst of all, he scored the 3rd round 10-9 for Thompson, even though he was the the fighter to hit the deck in that stanza.

Hometown judging has been brought to a new level. Ortiz easily won by 6th round stoppage.

The D.C. commission investigated Scaife’s abomination, but it is unknown what their eventual determination was.


March 12th – Marcus McDonnell’s 115-112 card saw the Flanagan-Mathews 135lb. title bout way too close.

To these eyes, it was a virtual shutout.


In Mexico, Junior Granados escaped with a robbery split decision over Aston Palicte.

Victor Ortiz Lara (97-93) & Max Ruiz (97-94) were the offenders.


March 18th – Dive scandal in Ukraine:–102852

Pleased to see the Ukranian National League of Professional Boxing take appropriate action.


March 20th – Was initially pleased to see that the Arizona State Boxing & MMA Commission were dubious about licensing the ‘Roy Jones Jr. vs. a fan’ farce that took place last month:

However, ultimately, somebody convinced them to go along with it, as Roy blasted out a novice MMA fighter in two rounds on his pro boxing debut.

Talk about toothless…and I’m not referring to old man Roy.


March 26th – Ref Steve Gray was too slow to react & pause the action when Zoltan Sera’s arm got stuck in the ropes in the 4th round of his fight with Adam Etches.

This lack of attentiveness hastened Etches’ victory, as Sera was dropped (although a knockdown rightly wasn’t ruled) and given scant time to recover afterwards.


The Eubank Jr.-Blackwell British title fight brought near tragedy, as the beating Blackwell suffered meant he had to be put into an induced coma for the week following the contest.

This article is being written in early April, so, with the benefit of hindsight, we know now that Blackwell thankfully didn’t have to suffer through an operation & is awake and able to talk to friends and family. Hopefully he will be able to regain all of his faculties and live a full life.

On the matter at hand, the referee Victor Loughlin, other ringside officials and even Blackwell’s corner team have received much criticism for not stopping the fight sooner, but, to these eyes, that is a case of convenient ’20/20 hindsight’.

While way behind on the cards, Blackwell was always fighting back and there was no single moment, until the eye injury flared up, that one could say Loughlin absolutely should have stepped in.

I don’t think the blame can be placed on the referee or anybody else, and that the fight simply illustrates the dangers inherent in this sport. Blackwell being awake and lucid now is a credit to the modern professionalism of the ringside medical team and those at the hospital that he was swiftly transported to.


Prichard Colon, victim of head trauma during his October bout with Terrel Williams, was not so fortunate.

He remains in a coma today, and a Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation report into the matter is illustrative:

Ref Joe Cooper, infamous for his botched handling of the Khan-Peterson fight in 2011, and ringside doctor Richard Ashby were both found to have committed errors during the fight, but were found to be officially not at fault for Colon’s injuries.

Furthermore, they would be unable to be held accountable anyway due to their nebulous status as “contract vendors”. The only scant consolation is that Cooper is likely to never ref a fight in this jurisdiction again.

Once more, toothless.

What a tragic mess.

11 thoughts on “Named & Shamed: Judging the Judges (March 2016)

  1. Enjoyed this. Your usual fine acerbic criticism.

    Thoughts on Wilder-Povetkin, both fairness-wise and otherwise? Wilder has the punch and clear age and physical advantages, but the Russian the skills, among other more dubious intangibles, haha. If Wilder can put him away I’ll be a believer. But I will not be terribly surprised if Deontay is caught out. Excited!

    It’s true Blackwell’s sad fate could have been shared by any fighter. I do think, however, it is due not only to boxing’s danger but to boxing’s maximization of danger past reason. If it were up to me, beatings of his sort would see earlier stoppage. Do it by algorithm, factoring in opponent level, head shots landed, etc., and calculate it in real time from the Compubox feed. Signal the ref, the two corners and the fans when a fighter has entered the danger zone with a heavy caution to consider stoppage.

    While there will be good objections to this idea, there’s the potential, anyway, for building better objective safety criteria.

    • I’m picking Povetkin, but I’m still dubious over whether the fight goes ahead haha. As with Fury-Wlad II, home advantage could be the key to the victory, in this case due to the type of shenanigans which seem to mar every Russian card I see.

      I don’t think you can get Compubox involved in things, but I agree that there must be potential somewhere to improve safety measures for the fighters. I’m all for earlier stoppages in one-sided fights. The more cases like Blackwell’s, his thankfully with a somewhat happy conclusion, that I experience first hand as a passionate boxing observer, the less qualms I have with refs erring on the side of caution.

      A fine end to another fine season of Better Call Saul. Have you watched much of season 2 so far?

      Really enjoyed Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria, a German film shot in a single, virtuoso 2 hour 15 minute take. Happily, it transcends gimmickry to tell the story of what I can only describe as the craziest night out ever. Very well acted too. Recommended, esp. in the theatre.

  2. Cheers for the Schipper tip, hadn’t heard of it. After reading your description, the trailer impressed me with its shot selection — namely the variety — and the range of lighting. He must have done a bravura job to get all that on the fly.

    Have yet to pick up Saul, distractions and detours in the way since the season began. Will get round to it — pleased to hear it was good and not a jot surprised. Meanwhile have The Revenant Blu-Ray on order and keen to see it at last!

    Did you catch the iFL TV bit this week with Fury? Shot in the hallway after the fight presser where Wlad told him off, he is by turns amusing and oddly (for him) contemplative. He sounds more dimensional than his cartoon persona. By contrast I found Klit’s moral preening sappy and false-hearted; maybe he’s been learning from his brother’s CIA pals.

    I do urge Fury to contemplate doing some exercise, though!

    Just read Heaney’s 2006 collection District and Circle. Ravishingly good, start to close. Here and there I used a retired teacher’s glosses at to help out with cultural and biographical references. The Nod and The Blackbird of Glanmore especially are worth Googling if you don’t have it.

    • Reminded me of Timecode by Mike Figgis, another innovative one take film (times four) that I love. Looking forward to your take on The Revenant.

      Rewatched Eyes Wide Shut recently and loved it more than ever. Its mysteries deepen rather than dissipate over time. I appreciate Kubrick’s movies more and more after each viewing, and I’m gradually coming around to accepting his place in the pantheon haha.

      Haven’t watched that one yet. I’ve always found him to be a far more contemplative character in one on one situations than the persona he adopts when in front of the world’s media at a presser. As for his physical condition, he’s always blown up between fights and this lack of professionalism will cost him sooner rather than later now that he’s at the elite level.

      Glad for the Heaney recommendations. I’ll check them out soon.

      • Pleased to hear re Kubrick and agree on EWS. Exceeds its reputation, IMO, in subtly disturbing ways.

        The critical disparagement, I believe, hinges on a risky decision by SK to fit its 1920’s-era European source material to contemporary American mores. The type of haunted bourgeois sexual guilt it has to tap simply looked fusty by the 90s, at least in America where the film’s reception was vicious. Some of the criticism struck me as a new generation saying, “You think that’s shocking, old man? You may have scared our parents with A Clockwork Orange, but you can’t shock us.”

        While I have no real complaints about Kidman and Cruise (the latter giving, for my money, a rare believable performance) I wonder also what might have been gained by casting unknowns. Even if SK had had this notion in mind for years, the celebrity couple’s offscreen life clouds disbelief for me anyway, as their Scientology-fueled marriage looms up like another masque ball to break the fourth wall. 😉

        But I love what is insinuated, left out, in the narrative. I love the slow immolation of Cruise’s innocence. The way it recalls the Hitchcockian Everyman in over his head. I love its rhythms. And those Jocelyn Pook songs give me the chills when I play them on the stereo even today. Her album Flood (1999) is an eerie, innovative treat.

        As it happens I sat down with my brother yesterday to re-watch Paths of Glory and grimly glorious it was! Hadn’t known about the 20-year ban on the film in France. Kubrick, even at age 29, knew just whom to upset. 😉

      • I’ll be listening to Pook now…thanks for another excellent analysis. The more time that passes between now and the film’s tumultuous filming process, the more believable Cruise & Kidman become in the main roles.

  3. Revenant watched and appreciated!

    Beautiful, subtle, lyrical, ferocious.

    I had no complaints at all while watching. Left me quite shaken, awed and saddened.

    My criticism, on reflection, is meant to be gentle. My only cavil is the film only goes part of the way I’d like in regarding culture and society.

    Early on there are tantalizing approaches made on the period, its commercial and racial realities, its political experience, and even on relationships (“You must listen to me, son!”). After the heartstopping bear attack it becomes a largely solitary and wordless existential quest (with intermittent, and quite moving, exceptions; one is the interlude marked by the buffalo encounter, its moving side story and tragic aftermath). The division of the characters into groups in flight, the son’s early death and the survival central to the film, though, shape what’s possible. They don’t allow for many interactions that would open up more of the world under the surface. They channel everything into the revenge story.

    It is what it is, masterful and formidable, but finally a tradeoff for one kind of filmic experience over another.

    So I think your comparison to Coppola, made several weeks ago, is very apt. Iñárritu is at least the old master’s equal as an image maker. I prefer his rhythms in cutting to Coppola’s too, and his way with subjective and dream sequences.

    But when I think about Apocalypse Now, as I have since the late 70s, its source material and the narrative approach have been a rich well, and I’m not sure I’ll be pondering The Revenant for nearly as long. I’ll remember it, but I can’t find more at the moment to sink my teeth into. I wouldn’t mind at all if a longer director’s cut appears with added scenes.

    What are your thoughts?

    • I agree that it’s not likely to have the staying power of Apocalypse Now, but, then again, so few films do.

      Very good analysis, and I think Inarittu consciously chooses to eschew deeper social analysis in favour of a pure sensual experience (propelled by the extraordinary images of Emmanuel Lubezki), one which was a joy to behold in the darkness of the theatre.

      Watched Von Trier’s first Nymphomaniac film two nights ago. Pretentious, po-faced nonsense and genuinely one of the worst films I’ve ever seen from a major director.

      I have fairly limited experience of his work but have a very mixed opinion of it, having, for example, admired The Idiots but hated Breaking the Waves.

      • Cheers for the Von Trier warning. I like his Dogville. Other work of his hasn’t had appeal for me, and I’ve bailed out on one or two. Titles forgotten, probably wisely.

        If I get around to another it’ll likely be Anti-Christ. Recommended? Only a low threshold for cruelty has kept me away.

        Do you care for any of Hal Hartley’s work? Well eclipsed by Von Trier, I think his understated black comedies and character studies are superior.

        You’ve mentioned Iñárritu’s trials in making Revenant and I meant to ask if you have a tip for a good piece or interview.

        Looking forward to Eggers’ The Witch.

      • Dogville is on my longlist of films to watch (despite disliking the follow-up Manderlay), as is Dancer in the Dark. I haven’t seen Antichrist, although a friend whose opinion I respect recommends it. It’s rather incongruously dedicated to Tarkovsky, which drew laughter at its Cannes premiere.

        Let me know what you think of The Witch. Not familiar with Hartley, what would you recommend?

        This is worth watching:

        Rewatched Soderbergh’s sex, lies & videotape yesterday. Tremendous, subtle meditation on secret emotional and erotic impulses, with some wonderful black comedy thrown in. It would make a great double-feature with Neil LaBute’s In the Company of Men.

  4. Pingback: Named & Shamed: Judging the Judges (April 2016) | pound 4 pound ireland

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