In the early days of organised boxing, bouts were all about who would be the last man standing, with fights often running to 100 rounds or more until one or other of the contestants could literally stand no longer.

Those days are long gone, however, bringing in the spectre of judges to decide on a winner every time a fight goes the distance. Though there are constant efforts to try and take subjectivity out of the process, the simple fact is that the judges are human and will have differing views about what they are seeing before them.

Often, the right man still gets the nod; regularly, there are a few murmurs about a decision that could have gone the other way; sometimes there is dismay about what appears to be a big mistake; and once in a while a decision comes along which stinks so badly that everybody except the judges can't believe what has happened.

With one of these decisions having taken place at the weekend as Manny Pacquiao lost his world crown, we've decided to round up our pick of boxing's worst injustices.

Manny Pacquiao v Timothy Bradley, 2012

Undefeated Bradley had started brightly and finished with character against Pacquiao, but was widely considered to have been second best on the night.

Our own boxing correspondent scored the fight 117-112 in favour of defending champion and pound-for-pound superstar Pacquiao, and it came as a shock when all three judges had it as close as 115-113.

But remarkably, two of the judges awarded the fight to Bradley, meaning that Pacquaio suffered just his first defeat in seven years.

The crowd booed the verdict, and promoter Bob Arum, who handles both fighters, fumed: "I've never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight."

Oscar De La Hoya v Felix Trinidad, 1999

Dubbed the fight of the millennium, De La Hoya and Trinidad put their unbeaten records on the line in a welterweight title unification bout.

The Golden Boy took charge of the fight early, seemingly getting far enough in front to win a points decision with several rounds to spare. De La Hoya appeared to run out of energy in the late rounds, but despite that appeared to have secured the victory.

Despite landing 263 punches to Trinidad's 116 over the course of the fight, however, the judges gave the decision to the Cuban on a majority decision.

The two were touted for a rematch but, while both continued their careers, they never faced each other again.

Lennox Lewis v Evander Holyfield, 1999

"This is another stain on boxing. Even worse than my draw with Holyfield!" said Lewis on Twitter as he witnessed Pacquiao lose his titles. That, of course, was reference to an extrarordinary March night in New York City in which the heavyweight titles were set to be unified.

Lewis appeared to control the fight, landing 348 punches to Holyfield's 130, and more than twice as many jabs. But for all the statistics, the bout was declared a draw, much to the bemusement of the Lewis camp.

Promoter Don King, never one to miss an opportunity, set up the rematch. "The judges were appointed by all the world's bodies and the New York State Athletic Commission. They rendered the decision; they did the best they could. But what do you do when you have a dispute? You resolve it, so let's do it again."

They did do it again — in November of the same year, with Lewis winning a unanimous decision.

Joe Louis v Jersey Joe Walcott, 1947

Even in cases of daylight robbery in boxing, it's rare that a pugilist admits to losing the fight, but that's exactly what Louis did after getting the decision against Walcott.

Walcott said several years after the contest: "After the fight, Joe put his arm around me and whispered in my ear, 'I'm sorry.' I looked across the ring, and I could tell that Louis thought he had lost the fight. In fact, he wanted to leave the ring, but his handlers held him back."

Louis had been floored in the first and fourth rounds, but came through to win a 15-round decision. A rematch was made in 1948, and Walcott again had his opponent in huge trouble. But this time Louis found an answer, knocking out Walcott in the 11th round.

Khan Amir Khan v Lamont Peterson, 2011

On the face of it, it was a fairytale victory for Peterson, the hometown hero who had lived on the streets of Washington as a boy before finding boxing and defeating Khan despite a first round knockdown.

That Peterson won a split decision was in itself not a robbery — the fight was close enough to be awarded either way — but what followed moved the bout into shadier territory.

At the outset Khan complained that there had been a bizarre delay in announcing the verdict, with the result a shock given it had been intimated to him moments before that he had been victorious.

Later Khan's camp spotted a mystery man talking to the judges at ringside in clear contravention of the rules, with suspicion rife that the man, later named as Mustafa Ameen, had tried to interfere with the scoring of the fight.

A rematch was ordered, one which did not come to pass when Peterson failed a drugs test, an unseemly end to an unseemly contest.

Dereck Chisora v Robert Helenius, 2011

Having travelled to Helsinki for a shot at the European champion, the stocky Chisora did an impressive job of neutralising the six foot seven inches 'Nordic Nightmare' Helenius.

But despite his effort, the judges backed the home fighter to a split decision, two scoring it 115-113 the way of Helenius.

"What happened on Saturday night in Helsinki was one of the worst decisions I've seen in the sport in a very long time," said Chisora's promoter after the fight. "I don't know how Helenius can hold his head up high and claim that he won the fight when he knows he lost."

He was not alone. Noted trainer Freddie Roach described the verdict as "just terrible".

Chisora bounced on from that defeat to face Vitali Klitschko in a heavyweight title fight in his next fight, a losing effort which nonetheless did him great credit.... right up until he ended up in a dust-up with David Haye at the post-bout press conference.

Jack Dempsey v Gene Tunney, 1927

William Harrison 'Jack' Dempsey was the undisputed world heavyweight champion for seven years from 1919, and when he lost his crown in September 1926 it was a good decision after a fair fight.

In front of a crowd of 130,000 people in Philadelphia, the challenger Tunney bobbed and weaved his way out of the path of Dempsey, who lost every round of the fight to lose his title.

The inevitable rematch went down as one of the most amazing twists in boxing history. Dempsey caught Tunney with a devastating right and followed up with a left hook to the chin and two more blows that sent the champion sprawling to the floor.

Tunney seemed done for, but the referee delayed starting the count because Dempsey had not moved to a neutral corner as required by what was then a brand new rule. The referee spoke to Dempsey for several seconds to tell him to retreat, then started the count at one.

Tunney used every second of what has become known as 'the long count', managed to struggle to his feet at nine, and recovered to win on points. He went on to remain undefeated; Dempsey never fought again.

Pernell Whitaker v Julio Cesar Chavez, 1993 and Pernell Whitaker v Jose Luis Ramirez, 1999

Mexican superstar Chavez was unstoppable for much of his career, winning titles at Super Featherweight, Lightweight and Super Lightweight. He won 87 straight fights from his professional debut in February 1980 until he drew his welterweight bout with Pernell Whitaker in September 1993.

Sadly, that result against Whitaker slightly sullied his otherwise astonishing career: the bout was declared a draw after two of the judges' scorecards put the fighters dead level while the third gave it to Whitaker.

Almost every observer agreed that Chavez, who had been widely regarded the world's best pound-for-pound fighter going into the bout, had been totally outboxed. The decision led to one of Sports Illustrated magazine's most famous covers: a picture of Whitaker punching Chavez in the face above the stark headline "Robbed!"

Six years later, Pernell ended up on another of the worst decisions ever seen in the sport when he completely dominated a bout against Jose Luis Ramirez, but was somehow declared the loser (with one judge even scoring it 118-113 to Ramirez).

It was Whitaker's first ever defeat, and in the worst possible circumstances, which even the normally impartial World Encyclopedia of Boxing branded "a disgrace".

George Foreman v Shannon Briggs, 1997

The heavyweight legend and kitchenware millionaire's return to the ring was still rumbling along when he fought Briggs in Atlantic City a few weeks before Christmas 1997, knowing that victory in what was a WBC eliminator would have earned him a shot at world champion Lennox Lewis.

And while Foreman was looking most of his 48 years during the bout, he seemed to have wrapped up a solid points victory after pummelling his opponent throughout the 12 rounds. The judges thought differently, however, with two giving Briggs a massive victory and the third declaring it a draw.

The result caused outrage, and Foreman walked away from the sport forever.

Roy Jones Jr v Park Si-Hun

In 1988 Roy Jones Jr came to the Seoul Olympics as one of the USA's top medal hopes in boxing and cruised through to the gold medal bout without losing a single round. Once there he had Korean opponent Park Si-Hun on the ropes throughout, landing a total of 86 punches to Park's 32 during an absurdly one-sided bout. Unbelievably, however, the judges decided that the local man had done enough to win the bout and awarded Park the gold.

The decision caused widespread astonishment and outrage - but not to the judges or Korean officials who had wined and dined them. One of the judges admitted that a mistake had been made, Park even reportedly apologised to Jones and a new scoring system was instigated following the outrageous corrupt decision.

The IOC refuses to acknowledge that anything untoward took place, however, and the decision still stands - despite the fact Jones won the Val Barker trophy in 1988, awarded to the best overall boxer of the Games. Jones went on to become one of the best pound-for-pound boxers the sport has seen and was named 'fighter of the decade' for the 1990s by the American boxing writers' association, but his gold medal still rankles and he remains hopeful that the decision will one day be overturned.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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