Rio De Janeiro: Highly respected boxing coach Billy Walsh said that the standard of judging at the Rio Olympics was the worst he had seen since the notorious Roy Jones Jr scandal in 1988.
Amateur boxing’s world governing body, the AIBA, says it has dropped an undisclosed number of officials after at least two highly controversial judging decisions in as many days put Olympic boxing in the dock. The Irishman Walsh is a coach for the United States and saw American lightweight Mikaela Mayer suffer defeat on points to a Russian in front of a mostly anti-American crowd on Monday, a decision he branded “crazy”. The same day a Russian heavyweight was adjudged to have won the gold-medal showdown with a Kazakh when most in the crowd thought otherwise, then on Tuesday an Irish world champion lost to a third Russian boxer.
Walsh was pleased to see reigning Olympic middleweight champion Claressa Shields not suffer the same fate to Russia’s Iaroslava Iakushina: “There have been a couple of favourites beaten here already and you can never know with the way things have been going. “You can never be sure (of a decision) and that became very evident early on (in Rio).” Asked by AFP where the standard of judging in Rio ranked compared to what he had seen at past Olympics, Walsh said: “To me it’s back to where we were in 1988, when Roy Jones got robbed in the final.” The final at Seoul 1988 has gone down as the most notorious decision in Olympic boxing history, when judges awarded victory to home fighter Park Si-Hun despite him taking a beating.
The scoring system was later changed. Walsh added that he was glad to hear that the AIBA had moved to address the Rio controversy in removing some officials for what the world body called “less than a handful of decisions not at the level expected”. Shields, the London 2012 middleweight champion, defeated Iakushina in their quarter-final to guarantee at least bronze.
She appeared to win comfortably and the judges agreed, giving her a unanimous points win, but the 21-year-old admitted she had been nervous about the verdict given the hullaballoo in the last few days. “I saw some pretty bad judging yesterday, especially when people are facing Russia, so it did give me a little scare, but overall the judges can’t be God,” she said. (AFP)
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