Why Do Folks Hate the Draw?

Last spring I saw two fellows (Jamie Walker and Dan Karpency, super-welterweights) fight for a WBANABA belt. Walker got floored twice in the early rounds and had to reach deep. It was a back-and-forth, exciting affair that went the distance. 

It was called a draw by the judges, and some fans were really bothered by that. 

One fellow near me was shouting his opinion that Walker had won, and another fellow across the way was shouting his belief that Karpency won. For a while it sounded like these two fellows were going to find each other and have a meaningful discussion about the issue, but security prevented that.

The point is, they were not happy with the draw.

We ran into Walker on our way out, and I shook his hand and tried to give him a compliment. What I wanted to say was something like, “Tonight you embodied everything that is noble and good in boxing. That was beautiful. I hope you remember this night with pride the rest of your life.” What came out was something like, “Good work.” 

I wanted to give him that compliment because I could see in his face that he was not happy with the draw. According to his facial expression, a draw is as bad as a loss. Maybe worse.

I guess to try so hard to climb a mountain only to have the mountain disappear at the last moment is very frustrating. But far worse, in my mind, would be the split decision loss, wherein the summit is in view, but on the last step the earth falls away beneath your feet and down you go.

Seriously, what is wrong with a tie? When I was young enough to play sports, we had ties. In soccer and in football, there were ties. (Did they have ties in hockey? Probably.) Then they introduced overtime in football, and the God-awful shootout arrangement in soccer.

I’ve seen some European kickboxing bouts where an additional round is stipulated if the judges have no decision after three.

I remember an occasion where the nit-wit president of the University said, publicly, that a 13–13 tie with Michigan was “one of the greatest victories in Ohio State history.” I completely understand the rancor and ire, the shout-till-you’re hoarse rage that comment inspired. And I actually don’t hate the football solution—you know, overtime.

Overtime works well in basketball, too. And that’s what they do in baseball. Just play till you got a winner. That wouldn’t work in boxing—at least not nowadays, not with the old Marquis of Queensbury. Not even an extra round would fly. Not after Kim Duk-Koo. 

So we have the 10-Point Must System and three judges, and that allows for a limited number of outcomes, and one of them is a draw. Actually, three of them are a draw. You could have a unanimous draw, a majority draw, and a split-decision draw.

I don’t know what it would take to ever change the scoring system, and frankly the thought scares me. Just look at the mess they’ve got going on in the amateurs. It was bad (criminal) what the judges did in the Seoul Olympics, and in trying to fix it, they’ve managed to repeatedly step on their tally-whackers in increasingly sophisticated ways. 

The worst I can remember was some cockamamie arrangement where the judges had two buttons, one for each fighter. They were to hit the blue button if they saw the blue fighter land a scoring blow, and so on. If all three judges hit the blue button within one second of each other, a point would register for the blue fighter.

So, all a judge had to do to tilt the scoring the way he wanted, was to not push the button for the other guy. So, if we had Judge A who was from the same country as the blue fighter, and Judge B was from the country of the red fighter, Judge C may or may not have been the only one trying to score the fight fairly. But, it wouldn’t matter. You need all three to push the button to register a point.

So, we were treated to the spectacle of two men whacking each other for three minutes, puffy-eyed and bleeding, yet with no score. Strangely, according to the judges, no legal blows had landed.

3< (That’s me farting in their general direction.)

We don’t want that. (The bad judging or the farting.)

And we don’t want robberies like (insert the controversial pro boxing match of your choice here) either. 

I have seen some professional bouts where the judging stank to Olympic levels. Sometimes the offense is brushed aside by the broadcasters as a “confusing” decision and sometimes Teddy Atlas is there. 

Teddy has the cojones to call out the stinkers, to tell it like it is. He got fired from his gig at ESPN for doing it. 

I’ve heard him on more than one occasion saying that it’s not right; it’s an outrage to cheat fighters out of a victory considering the work that goes into training, and the risk that each fighter accepts each time they step into the ring. I agree—we owe them this. Assuring them of a fair scoring system is the least we can do.

It seems to me that there are more draws today than there were thirty years ago, maybe even ten years ago. I don’t know that for certain; I haven’t counted or pored over hundreds of fight results. It just seems like I’m seeing more of them. 

And I guess I would like to see more still. I often hear the commentators after a round saying something like this: “That was a very close round, difficult to score. But I think it may go to Jones (or Smith).” It’s almost like they don’t believe in a tie. Like the 10-Point Must System has become the 10/9-Point Must System. But there is such a thing as a 10/10 round and I think such rounds are fought far more often than they are ever scored.

Let’s call a draw a draw. We owe that to the fighters, too.

3 thoughts on “Why Do Folks Hate the Draw?

  1. I don’t mind a draw, but I would call the the Walker decision a hometown draw (not that I’m complaining…) In my opinion Karpency won that fight, but he couldn’t close the sale. If you’re going to cross state lines to fight a hometown favorite, you better be prepared to make a statement in the ring..

    PS- GGG got robbed


    1. Good point, there certainly does seem to be a home town advantage a la Seoul Olympics. And I can’t argue with you regarding Karpency. I wasn’t keeping score myself, but I was surprised that Walker was able to overcome TWO knockdowns. I really meant that “all that is noble” crap, BTW.


      1. I had no problem with either Canelo / GGG outcome. I thought they were both too close to argue with. But I think it’s ridiculous what the talking heads were saying during the GGG / Steve Rolls fight – that GGG had to prove himself worthy of a third shot at Canelo. As if!


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