Originally written on The Queensbury Rules  |  Last updated 11/12/14

This video
from the London Olympics is pretty big time right now, and with good reason. Japanese bantamweight Satoshi Shimizu (above) was knocking down Azerbaijani Magomed Abdulhamidov all over the place in the 3rd round Wednesday, and the referee treated it like nothing was happening. Rightfully, the result has been overturned and the referee suspended. Other obligations have kept me from commenting until now, but here are a few thoughts:
  • Not that it makes it THAT much better -- and it's indefensible, let's be direct on that point -- but it would be erroneous to say that Shimizu knocked Abulhamidov down "five times" as has commonly been written. A couple times, he just fell. If you want to say he fell as a result of a "series of blows," per International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) rules, that's plausible, but they aren't clear knockdowns. Several, however, were clearly the direct result of punches, and they should have been treated as such, with a resulting count. Additionally, Abdulhamidov is so badly hurt throughout the sequence that some standing eight counts should have been administered, and that could have led to the referee also halting the bout, had he done his job properly. When criticizing something, best to aim at the proper target, is all.
  • Up that alley, the referee is getting an awful lot of critcism, appropriately, but that means the judges aren't getting enough attention for how bad they were. In these Olympics, there have been whole rounds where one boxer is kicking the other's ass and scored a mere three points in those rounds. Abdulhamidov was getting his ass kicked AND not kicking ass, and somehow the round was scored even, 10-10.
  • It's easy to feel for Shimizu after he got robbed, but let's not forget that he got into the second round by controversial methods, namely notching his own controversial win over Ghana's Isaac Dogboe in a decision most thought Dogboe deserved. After doing OK for a while in the 2012 Olympics, boxing officiating and judging has devolved back to its usual low standard or worse; hell, another referee got suspended for how he handled a fight that same day, and that result hasn't been overturned. At least Shimizu got justice. Others haven't been so lucky, even if their scandals were less, well, scandalous, and we shouldn't forget that.
  • Wondering whether there is some legitimate corruption at play here isn't at all the product of a fevered mind. There was an investigation last year into $9 million suspiciously moving into AIBA-affiliated accounts in exchange for Azerbaijan winning medals, although that inquiry was concluded with AIBA finding no wrong-doing. Sometimes, shady-looking stuff in boxing is the result of incompetence, rather than malfeasance. But this both looks shady and is accompanied by allegations of wrongdoing that are hard to view as coincidental.
  • Professional boxing has a reputation for corruption, but no instance of outright fight fixing at a meaningful level has been proven in more than a decade. Still, it's not the cleanest of sports, and lots of suspect business happens. Yet, let's compare it to the Olympics. There is a bout-throwing scandal going on in badminton right now, of all things, and dirty, corrupt and corrupt-looking things happen every couple years. This one trumps the badminton scandal, easily, but this is just to say that these are not two great tastes that taste great together, the Olympics and boxing. Nonetheless, as I was discussing with friend of the site Alex W. a few hours ago, this isn't a simple case of boxing sullying the Olympic Games, which are already plenty sullied. It might well be the other way around. At minimum, it's a mutual sullying.
  • Whatever the notion that computerized scoring would somehow take the subjectivity out of boxing scoring, it's a huge failure on that count. Nonsensical decisions happen all the time, and in the end this Shimizu-Abdulhamidov decision might prove that a determined nation will find a way to corrupt the outcomes with or without computerized scoring. As our Alex McClintock wrote for The Guardian, change is on the way to how Olympic boxing is scored. But it's more likely to have an effect on the aesthetics of the sport than its integrity.

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