Saturday night, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury met in a tremendous Heavyweight title fight. It was a much anticipated fight, and it delivered some amazing drama, particularly in the 12th round where Fury seemed to get up from sure defeat and manage to hang on to the end. Despite that knockdown (plus a previous knockdown in round 9) most analysts saw the fight for Fury. But it was not to be, as the judges ruled it a split draw with scores of 115-111 Wilder (from judge Alejandro Rochin), 114-112 Fury (Robert Tapper) and 113-113 draw (Phil Edwards). The outrage over the score was loud, and immediate.
Here, we take a round by round look to see how these scores came to be. For comparison, I am adding in my own live scoring, plus that of BE’s Mookie Alexander, and Will Esco from our friends at Bad Left Hook. I also will be citing CompuBox numbers, though of course you can take those with as many grains of salt as you see fit.
Let’s see how this all went down...
DEONTAY WILDER vs. TYSON FURY
Round 1: So we run into trouble right off the bat, as all 3 judges score this 10-9 Wilder, while Mookie, Will, and I all score it for Fury. For what it’s worth, CompuBox has Fury outlanding Wilder 6 punches to 4, which is not a lot of punches to make a decision on, one way or the other. That’s a recurring theme on the night.
Round 2: For the first time, Rochin scores a round for Wilder, while the other judges go Fury. Rochin’s 115-111 Wilder card was largely derided, so he’s the one to watch for. That said, I can’t personally get too upset this time, because I gave the round to Wilder too. Fury up 5-3 on CompuBox; Will and Mookie for Fury.
Round 3: Fury outlands Wilder 11-4 and everyone has this for Fury. Except for Rochin. That means at the end of 3 rounds, Rochin has Wilder up 30-27, while the other judges have it 29-28 Fury. This despite Fury being up 22 punches to 11. If you want to cite a specific round that points to Rochin’s incompetence, or, worse, corruption, this is a good target.
Round 4: Rochin is still Wilder strong - this time he is joined by Will on our end.
Round 5: Finally Rochin gives a round to Fury! As do the other judges. And yet, fascinatingly, both Will and Mookie give it to Wilder. So there has to at least be somewhat of a case for Wilder here, though Rochin isn’t picking him.
Round 6: Five of us have Fury here, but this time the one lone Wilder voice is not Rochin, it’s Edwards (who will ultimately score it a draw). So at the halfway point the official scores are: 58-56 Wilder, 59-55 Fury, 58-56 Fury.
Round 7: This is a weird one. Mookie, Will, and I all go to Fury, and we are joined by... Rochin. The other two judges both go with Wilder, who CompuBox has outlanding Fury for the first time in the fight, 7-5.
Round 8: For the second time it’s a near unanimous vote for Fury, but Rochin stands alone on the Wilder side.
Rounds 9-12: The final four rounds have consensus from all. Both round 9 and 12 are obvious 10-8 Wilder rounds, while Fury takes both 10 and 11 with 10-9’s. No disagreement from anyone here.
- 8 of the 12 rounds are without consensus.
- Of those, 2 Rochin gave to Wilder totally on his own (rounds 3 and 8).
- There’s a 3rd round where only one person goes with Wilder (Edwards in 6).
- But there are also 2 rounds Rochin gives to Fury that at least 1 other gave to Wilder.
- Had Rochin scored rounds 3 & 8 for Fury, his card would have matched Edwards’ at 113-113 and it would still be a draw.
So what does this all mean? From my perspective, it’s hard to look at these details and say it was out-and-out corruption. If it was, surely Rochin would have given Wilder rounds like 5 or 7, where there’s a better case for Wilder then there is in some of the other rounds. I also have a tough time saying it was gross incompetence, since Rochin is only twice alone in his Wilder voice. But it does reveal just how flawed and subjective the scoring of boxing is. Remember, these are three judges sitting around the ring, hampered by sight lines, responding in real time to what they see, and not always crystal clear on exactly what lands and doesn’t land, or even what scores most effectively. There’s a heavy personal bias at play here, no matter how much we want to think we can be totally impartial. Perhaps there was just something in Wilder’s style that Rochin found more point-worthy than what was in Fury’s style, and so in close rounds with not a lot landing, he tended to favor Wilder more often than not. While I favored Fury, for my own reasons.
In the end, it looks like just plain old bad scoring. Nothing more, nothing less. Should we accept that as fans? Of course not. Boxing should be employing as judges those who can do the job and do it well. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that day to come.