A Note On Subjective Scoring, In Light Of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Vs. Miguel Cotto

What if I told you I had Miguel Cotto beating Floyd Mayweather 117-111 (nine-three in rounds)? Well, you can relax, I didn’t. Don’t puke all over your Pernell Whitaker t-shirt and rush to defecate on my Twitter just yet. I scored the fight 116-112 Mayweather, giving Cotto rounds 2, 5, 6 and 8. But if I had shared the opinion of some respected boxing scribes on certain individual rounds, perhaps I could’ve registered that seemingly ludicrous number.


Scored for Cotto by Tim Dahlberg (AP), Kevin Iole (Yahoo), and Dan Rafael (ESPN).


Scored for Cotto by Lance Pugmire (LA Times), Doug Fischer (Ring Magazine), and Tim Starks (Queensberry Rules).


Scored for Cotto by Harold Lederman (HBO), Ron Borges (Boston Herald), and Iole.


Scored for Cotto by David Greisman (Boxing Scene), Lederman, and Fischer.


Scored for Cotto by Scott Christ (Bad Left Hook) and Pugmire.


Scored for Cotto by Greisman, Dahlberg, and Fischer.


Scored for Cotto by Rafael.


Scored for Cotto by Christ, Starks, and Fischer.


Scored for Cotto by Starks and Pugmire.

If you agreed with those guys on all of those rounds, you would have tallied the improbable card of 117-111 for Cotto (gasp!). Of the ten gents I cited, only two came up with a final verdict other than Mayweather winning the fight. Starks scored a 114-114 draw. Pugmire saw it 115-113 for Cotto. Of the rest, Iole and Borges had it tightest at 115-113 Mayweather. Dahlberg, Rafael, Fischer, and Christ all rendered 116-112 Mayweather. Lederman had it 117-111 and the esteemed Greisman, one of the brightest and funniest boxing writers around, came in at 118-110, a resounding Mayweather victory, at least in a scoring sense.

The majority consensus was that Mayweather was an obvious winner, whether it was narrow or wide. Any difference of opinion will likely be met with righteous indignation and mocking derision. I thought Mayweather clearly won the fight. That is my opinion. The problem with boxing scoring is that most fights contain rounds that are hardly definitive or conclusive. This fight had several quiet, close, debatable rounds, and you can see from the differences in scoring that opinions can vary widely. The aforementioned Scott Christ echoed my score of 116-112 for Mayweather but we scored two rounds differently. Same situation with Doug Fischer. If I agreed with Scott that Cotto won the 7th and 10th rounds, I would’ve had it a draw. If I then agreed with Fischer on the 3d round, I’d have Cotto winning 115-113. If Scott concurred with me on the 7th and 10th rounds, he’d join Greisman with a 118-110 in favor of Mayweather.

Point being, there’s no right answer, no undisputed truth, when it comes to scoring close rounds in a fight. Looking at it as a whole, I couldn’t possibly come up with a way to claim Cotto won. But you don’t score fights as a whole, you score round-by-round. And if you shared the opinions of the people mentioned above on the rounds cited, even seven out of the nine, you wound up with Cotto ahead on your card. You’ll surely be scoffed at by all the boxing “geniuses,” dubbed an imbecile, incapable of grasping the finer points of the sweet science. They’ll spout out old clichés: “boxing is like jazz, the better it is, the harder it is to understand, and you just don’t get it.” They’ll rattle off some impressive-sounding technical mumbo-jumbo (amazing how many guys on Twitter speak with the pedigree of a twenty-year veteran world-class boxing trainer, isn’t it?) and deride you and your ghastly scorecard. My opinion: It was a competitive fight. Mayweather took over late and clearly deserved to win. But if you scored some tight rounds differently and saw it otherwise, that doesn’t make you an idiot. It means you have an opinion different than mine. And as they say, opinions are like assholes: Everyone has one, and there are a lot of them in boxing.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.