The time for Instant Replay in boxing has come and it has never been more apparent than on the latest edition of HBO’s Boxing after Dark. The first fight of the night had a situation where instant replay would have reversed a critical mistake by the referee that were this fight of a higher caliber, could have had significant repercussions.
In boxing, when a cut is incurred, the referee makes the call as to whether it was a punch or a head butt. The significance is that if it was a head butt and the cut is so sever that the fight has to be stopped after the 4th round, the fight will go to the cards and the boxer who is ahead in the scoring at that point will win the fight. If it is a punch and the fight gets stopped because of the fight, the fighter with the cut will lose the fight automatically and the decision will go to other fighter without the need to go to the cards.
In the first fight of the night, Rivera head butted Angulo, but the referee thought that it was a punch and ruled it as such. Between rounds, the replay clearly showed that it was a head butt and that the referee had made a mistake. The cut itself was in a horrible spot and was very likely to only get worse during the fight and it did. The problem here was that Rivera was definitely outclassed in this battle and was clearly losing the fight, but if he had managed to get that cut to the point where the fight would have to be stopped, he would have won the fight. He was clearly going after the cut with every punch, but Angulo ended up being too much for him. Lucky for Angulo as he would have lost a fight on a bad call by the referee.
Now imagine if this were a championship fight and the results were a little different and you had a fighter that was losing a fight and head butted there opponent and opened them up. If the referee misses the head butt, the fight could get stopped and the fighter that should have won the fight will get robbed of his title win. Even if it is a fighter who is up and coming and they suffer a critical loss, it could push back there career for years.
Now this is not something that will stop the flow of the fight or actually affect it in any way other than to get the call of the punch right. The tape can be reviewed between rounds and the shot can quickly be identified. They will know exactly the time when the punch happened and can immediately go to that point of the tape to make sure the call is correct. There were 2 punches in question on this night and they were identified within 30 seconds by the announcers.
This is a sport that definitely needs to invoke replay to decide if a cut has resulted by a head butt or a punch. The rule in place dictates that the referee be 100% sure as to the cause of the cut because the repercussions on a mistaken call are just too large. Bring replay into boxing and ensure that this mistake does not happen again.