Don't Sympathise with Errors
We all make mistakes; from my typos when writing an article through to misidentification of two boxers fighting for a world title.  That’s life.

Judge Clark Sammartino managed to mix up two men, in a two horse race.  Not only a two horse race, but a two horse race where both had their names sewn to their fucking shorts.  What kind of idiocy is that?  The outrage on Twitter was strong on Saturday night and rightly so.  But there were also a number of sympathisers for Sammartino, those who were willing to accept all the right notes where there, but just in the wrong order.  The card itself was reasonable (118-108) just with the names mixed up, so that’s OK?  Well no.

What if it were your job?  You roll in on Monday morning, whether you are a bank clerk or a builder, and you invert the main task of your job.  The builder, meaning to mix cement, gets his levels wrong.  1 part cement, 2 parts sand and 3 parts gravel all get put in the wrong way around.  It’s no different to Sammartino.  It’s the fundamentals of his job.  What comes out of the mixer?  A load of shit that doesn’t work, a wasted hours effort.  The same of Sammartino.

The bank clerk, who received £1,000 in cash from a business owner to pay into the accounts.  Oops, they hit the wrong button and instead debited £1,000.  That’s not acceptable.  Yes it can be put right, but there will be compensation of some sort, repercussions.

What if another judge made the same mistake?  In a fight as one-sided as car vs mouse, there should only have been a single clear winner.  But there wasn’t.  If we are accepting that one judge made a simple mistake, then what if two had?  OK, the chances are minimal, as I can’t remember such a flagrant case of fucking it up before this one.  But it’s happened once, what if it did happen twice on Saturday night?  Lee Haskins walks away with his IBF title in a crime that would have gone down in Belfast’s folklore. 

Robert Smith, General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, was quick to jump in.  Immediately thrust in front of the Sky cameras on Saturday night, he was also quoted to the BBC as saying “He got it wrong.  I will advise the IBF of our dissatisfaction…..he won’t be coming back”.  OK, we as fans should applaud that he is taking action to stop us witnessing this kind of judging again, but why did we see this on Saturday night?  Smith has knee-jerked his was into the headlines on the back of this, as if it is the first time on these shores that a card has been logged that bears no resemblance to the fight.

In fact, it’s not the first one that has happened on Robert Smith’s watch.  Remember September 2013 in Glasgow, Ricky Burns breaking his jaw and retaining his WBO lightweight title versus Ray Beltran via a split draw?  Disgusting decision, Beltran (despite his own misdemeanours), should have gone home with the title.  February of this year, Mexican Rey Vargas came and taught Gavin McDonnell a lesson in his hometown of Hull to claim the WBC super bantamweight title.  Not according to Ian John Lewis though, who scored it 114-114. 

I seem to remember at the time Hearn acknowledged that the Lewis card was not reflective of the fight (I can’t find the exact quote) – so did he get Sky to thrust Robert Smith in front of a camera and comment of the scorecard?  Nope.  Did Smith publicly dismiss the notion that Lewis should score a world title fight in Britain again?  Na.  Admittedly this mistake is not on a par with the shocker from Belfast, but the fact is that his card COULD have meant the right man never got the result he deserved.  In other words, the OUTCOME could have been the same as the Sammartino mishap. 

But that didn’t negatively affect the Hearn stable. That didn’t go against Matchroom or British boxing.  So instead of making grand posturing and telling the judge he isn’t welcome back, the carpet is lifted and the issue brushed underneath.  I understand Hearn’s position here, he has to protect his own fighter.  But why does Smith see fit to burn the issue to the ground on this occasion but no other?  Given that Matchroom are the biggest promotional company in UK boxing, it doesn’t sit comfortably to see the head of the sport in this country so quickly leap into bed with those who are taxed to pay his pockets.

Final point here, what about those that were betting on the fight?  Plenty of markets to choose from, including the specifics of the fight.  So what if I as a punter had put down a lump sum on Burnett to win a unanimous points decision?  Was a fairly likely outcome after all, the young and hungry lion with too much energy against a crafty and gritty older warrior.  Well, tough shit my friend, you lost!  Did you lose fairly?  Nope.  But you can blame Sammartino for that. 

However, what if you didn’t favour the Burnett unanimous decision?  What if you backed a split decision?  Turns out it’s your lucky day my friend, that’s money in the bank!  What if…….hypothetically… were one of Sammartino’s friends, or a family member.  What if you put big money on a split decision for Burnett.  Of course there is a risk that either man may get knocked out in the 12 rounds, but also that was a fairly unlikely outcome.  So instead, why not back a split decision?  Then imagine you had a friend or family member who was able to influence that outcome to help you out?  Of course that is only hypothetical, not for one moment would we suggest that boxing is a corrupt sport.  Never.

The fact is, this is a horrible outcome.  The sport takes a kick in the teeth courtesy of Clark Sammartino.  Corruption, mistake, poor form?  Really makes no difference.  There can be no excusing or sympathising the actions and Robert Smith is right to shut the borders to his return.  However, next time a Matchroom fighter is on the receiving end of some outright outrageous scoring, I would fully expect Robert Smith to start giving quotes to national coverage.  He won’t, of course, but it doesn’t stop me expecting it.