NSAC’s Kizer defends judge CJ Ross after controversial call on Mayweather-Canelo
BY BOB VELIN USA TODAY Sports September 15, 2013 5:58PM
Floyd Mayweather Jr. throws a punch against Canelo Alvarez during a 152-pound title fight, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Updated: September 15, 2013 6:03PM
Since scoring the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez super welterweight title fight a 114-114 draw, judge Cynthia J. “CJ” Ross has taken harsh criticism from all corners of the boxing world. But the head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission doesn’t have an issue with the controversial scorecard.
Members of the news media, fighters, ex-fighters, celebrities, promoters and many on social media have called for Ross’ head, saying the 64-year-old veteran boxing judge should never work another big fight.
Keith Kizer, the NSAC executive director, told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday he did not think Ross’ scoring was an egregious error, or even an error at all.
“Just because a judge’s scorecard ends up even, doesn’t mean the judge necessarily thought the fight as a whole was even,” Kizer said. “It could be that a judge has six rounds for each fighter, but the six rounds she gave fighter A, she gave them to him easily and the six rounds she gave fighter B, they were really close rounds. That’s pretty much how it was last night.”
Right after the fight, Mayweather called Ross’ scoring “a joke.” But he’s not used to having judges score against him ever. This was the only fight of his 45-0 career, besides his split decision victory against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, that a judge has not scored in favor of Mayweather. In 2007, Tom Kaczmarek scored that fight 115-113 for De La Hoya.
At the post-fight news conference early Sunday morning, Mayweather toned down his criticism, saying that the NSAC is the best in the world, and “if they think she should be out there judging fights, then so be it.”
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe wanted to put the controversy behind.
“I thought the scoring was a little off, but it just makes you that much more motivated. It’s like, wow, these guys just can’t get it right sometimes,” he said. “The commission is the best in the business, but sometimes people have off-nights, just like everybody else. But they did a wonderful job of appointing officials and we don’t have nothing to say. We have the victory and we move on.”
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, whose company promotes Alvarez, wasn’t ready to forget it. “The whole world was watching,” he said. “That scorecard was a disgrace.”
Ross was doubly criticized because she was one of the judges who gave Timothy Bradley a decision against Manny Pacquiao last year in one of the most controversial calls in boxing history. The Nevada attorney general was called in to investigate.
“How that judge could be appointed after the decision of Bradley and Pacquiao is not a question I can answer,” Schaefer said. “How can that happen? Is it going to happen again?”
Kizer said when he told Ross she had scored it a draw, she was surprised. “Good judges, they don’t keep track of their scores,” he said. “It’s a round-by-round scoring system. All three judges thought Mayweather was the better fighter, that he won that fight as a whole. Because one judge had it even on the scorecard doesn’t mean that judge thought both fighters did equally well.”
Kizer said Ross was in the majority among the judges in 10 of the 12 rounds Saturday, and the exceptions were the first, which is usually a feeling out process and could have gone either way, and the eighth round. He also said she was in the majority in all 12 rounds of Pacquiao-Bradley.
“Let’s say you don’t agree with her on the eighth round,” Kizer said. “One round out of 24 you disagree with her and you think she should never judge again? “How is that nothing more than mob mentality?
“I understand why there’s criticism, because people think of the entire fight and think Mayweather was certainly the better fighter, so how can you have a draw?” he added. “The answer is the scoring system.”
Kizer said he evaluates judges annually, and on a fight-by-fight basis. Ross, he said, is one of the NSAC’s top judges, and he’s not considering disciplinary action. “Discipline does not make sense here,” he said. “It’s a review process. What I plan to do is look at that eighth round.
“If I review a round and don’t understand why the judge went that way, I’ll (talk) with the judge. If I understand why the judge went that way, it would be unfair to criticize.”
Ross, Dave Moretti (116-112) and Craig Metcalfe (117-111) each earned $8,000 for the fight, based on the total purses, as much as a Nevada judge has made since Holyfield-Tyson II.