Can Olympic boxing be fixed?

The Pugilist

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Abdulhamidov's initial decision over Shimizu insulted the intelligence of boxing fans

The London 2012 Olympics were 99 per cent a rousing worldwide success. Unfortunately, the boxing scoring system formed a fair chunk of the remaining 1 per cent.

Firstly, after a manic but amazing fortnight for the Games, The Pugilist feels good to be back.

Secondly, before we go deep into negativity, a massive congratulations are due to those Great Britain and Ireland boxers who took medals home from East London - in particular, the seminal gold medal performances of Nicola Adams and Katie Taylor, and the blistering bantam final between Brit Luke Campbell and Irishman John Joe Nevin.

Right, feel-good stuff out of the way. Now for the the less-glowing developments.

The introduction of a new scoring system (covered in-depth by TP for Eurosport's London Spy Olympic series here) irked purists, and sure enough a storm was brewing.

It felt like there wasn't a single day of action from London's ExCeL that didn't involve at least one contentious, sometimes downright incorrect, result.

It bore something of a resemblance to the issue of empty seats at some Olympic events, despite the struggles many had finding a way to experience a once-in-a-lifetime deal first-hand, in that the efforts of the athletes and the enthusiasm of the public were being undermined by the poor organisation of those in charge.

That said, talk of scrapping the sport from the Games entirely was equally preposterous, as were minority conspiracy theories of home bias (try calling those shenanigans to Tom Stalker).

Take away the judges' decisions and you're left with a festival of exciting performances, emotional climaxes and unlikely crowd favourites coming to the fore, all before a molten crowd.

So with that in mind, and in the wake of the quick death of the new judicial system, we have suggested a few concepts which could improve matters in time for Rio.

As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments section below as well as via Eurosport's official boxing Twitter account @eurosportboxing — have your say and put forward your own fantasy edicts. We may well publish the best ones next week…

1) Scoring

One of the biggest frustrations about the boxing at London 2012 was when a fighter would take full control of the contest and not see it reflected in the scores.

Magomed Abdulhamidov was knocked down six times by eventual bantamweight bronze medallist Satoshi Shimizu and it took mass uproar and a retrospective review for justice to be served.

Even Britain's Anthony Ogogo would have to admit even the 'quality over quanitity' mentality of rewarding only clean lands is flimsy when it comes to his stunning count-back victory over middleweight world number one Ievgen Krytrov.

In taekwondo, one point is awarded for a valid kick or punch to the torso, two for a valid spinning kick, three for a kick to the face or side of the head and four for a turning kick to the head. Should boxing knockdowns really yield the same as a light-but-accurate jab?

The more difficult and risky attacks come with the potential benefit of asserting dominance in a contest and thus leads to a higher score. Boxing at pro level also considers this: knocking your opponent down or putting your opponent in serious hot water (for amateurs, forcing a standing count) leads to a 10-8 round.

This in turn encourages enterprising combat and leaves less doubt as to who was the better man (or woman).

2) Landing shots

On the subject of taekwondo, the electronic headgear and chestpads they use make it clear which strikes connect and which are well blocked.

Anyone is liable to mistake an exciting flurry of blows to a boxer's well-kept guard as a legitimate attack.  But as with every other sport in modern times, boxing should not allow for so much human error.

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Ogogo showed great heart against the impressive Khytrov, but was he really the better man?

3) Video challenges

Yes, video challenges. Seen everywhere from tennis to cricket and finally to football after years of debate, fighters and their corners should be permitted to challenge the result at the end of the fight if they suspect a discrepancy.

No hearing of a behind-the-scenes appeal an hour after someone has marched triumphantly back to their changing room, just 10-15 minutes of video reviews to clarify if the judges as a collective have sold a fighter's purple patch short.

The thought of delaying the final decision after the fight will go down like a lead balloon, of course. But contests which ended with a count-back were already agonisingly protracted. What is there to lose?

4) Super slow-motion

It makes for a great action replay during sports coverage, but when commentators marvel at the 'milliseconds and millimetres' which can decide many an Olympic sport, they always leave out boxing.

Super-slo-mo could help ascertain whether a fighter deserved to score that many or that few points. It would also provide great entertainment for the live and television audiences between rounds and during those tedious count-back or dispute pauses.

5) End progressive scoring

Knowing your sports team is behind or what they need to reach their goal can be extremely exciting at football and elsewhere. Does boxing really need that? Is it really fair when the crowd favourite ends a round ahead and receives a roar of approval?

The very best fighters can dig deep in these scenarios of adversity, granted. Should they have to in what is meant to be a pure and technical sporting environment?

Surely the crowd's entertainment value and a boxer's career-defining moment can be kept separate from one another…


While you muse over these suggestions, here's something else to think about: Dan Rafael at ESPN recently wondered aloud whether the United States' boxing failures would be cured or further exposed if the sport were to 'do a basketball' and welcome the pros to the Olympics.

With that in mind, who do you think would deliver gold for Team GB in Rio should such a fantasy scenario come true? Would you love to see an Olympic return for the likes of David Price and Billy-Joe Saunders?

And generally speaking, what would be the most exciting pro-am Olympic weight class in your opinion? Dream final scenarios welcome. Leave your thoughts below or via @eurosportboxing and once again you could have your ideas published.

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