THE scoring of Olympic contests is under scrutiny at Rio 2016. Decisions that saw Evgeny Tishchenko win the heavyweight (91kgs) gold medal yesterday and Irish bantamweight Michael Conlan lose today to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin have been controversial.
There is not a mechanism for appeals from teams to overturn results but judges are evaluated in the course of a tournament and several bouts have been brought before a review panel, including the 91kgs final, and the Conlan bout that took place on Tuesday will be.
Thomas Virgets, a member of the AIBA executive committee, told Boxing News: “First the officials that got here got here because they were evaluated over a period of two years and these were the ones who scored the highest, but relative to the continents because we also have to ensure neutrality among the officials. Once they were chosen they went to a number of clinics and were trained even more, participated in a lot of training. Once they got here what happens is in the field of play, in every bout we have two people called referee and judges evaluators. They are evaluating every bout that goes on and every day they are addressing those bouts with these individuals. If we have a particular bout that the referee and judges evaluators say, ‘We really need to take a look at that bout,’ then there’s a small committee that’s put together here by AIBA, I’m one of those individuals. We review the films and take a look at it relative to what happened.
“This is just reviewing selected bouts. Then of course if the officials are found to have not been on their game for that day, then they will most likely be removed from the competition for a day or two. Sometimes they’ve lost concentration, we have had 230 bouts.
“The other thing that you’ve got to look at is the parity. Every bout is highly competitive and the margin of difference between these boxers is quite often very, very slim. But still this is an Olympics. We want to get it, not 98% of the time right, we want to get it 100% of the time right. So we’re constantly evaluating ourselves relative to what’s going on. There’s continuous feedback throughout the tournament. As soon as this is over we will review every single bout and we will start taking a look at how do we improve ourselves. We’re in a transition right now, we went from the 2012 points system [computer scoring] to where we are now.”
After having their performance evaluated some judges here have been stood down. “The R&J evaluators when they feel that someone’s scoring is not up to the standard it should be, they will sit them down, determined by the egregiousness of the gap [to where it should be], they will sit them down for a period of time and that period of time can be short or long,” Virgets said.
The Evgeny Tishchenko versus Vasiliy Levit final has been particularly contentious. My view was that Levit was the aggressor, landing punches as the Russian looked to hold, particularly in the last round, and deserved the verdict. But Virgets suggested, “What they probably were seeing that they didn’t like and that is that most of his punches are not quality punches because he’s slapping an awful lot. He had seemingly landed but what it was was [with] his power hand that he would bring his back leg forward and fall forward. Is that a quality punch? Most likely not.
“On the other hand the Russian boxer had some very nice counter-punching. Technique – the Russian obviously has the best technique in terms of his covering, his blocking of punches but neither one them had real tactics or technique.
“Competiveness – the Kazakh 100%, he was the aggressor the entire bout. He was strong, his physicality overwhelmed but is it just physicality? How much weight do you put to that if it’s not with quality punches?
“Then infringement of the rules, based on his positioning when he’s coming forward he’s leading with his head. I’m sure that all the officials felt that he was the one who initiated all of the head butts.
“I agree with you towards the end of the bout it looked like more the holding was to the Russian but earlier on I would have said just the opposite. So all those things being considered that’s what the officials are looking at and they’re making their analysis based on what they see.”
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon it was too early for him to comment on Michael Conlan’s contest.
Improving officials he says is ongoing, adding, “We have to take a look at is our criteria weighted correctly. Shall we give a little more to physicality? But how much before it takes away from the true thing of quality blows to the target area. We will evaluate all this.”