Exceeding Expectations Doesn’t Equal Winning

By Caryn A. Tate on July 7, 2017
Exceeding Expectations Doesn’t Equal Winning
In Jeff Horn's case, the majority of fans and pundits wrote him off as a no-hoper. (Reuters)

How emotionally invested will most people become in a sport that frequently robs and disrespects its own athletes?

In last Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn bout broadcast live on ESPN, the majority of viewers and pundits rightly cried foul when Horn was awarded a unanimous decision in a fight where Pacquiao clearly won the majority of the rounds.

Since then, a smattering of writers across the web have risen up to make excuses about why the decision wasn’t such a horrible one. They have claimed that the ESPN commentators were biased towards Pacquiao; that the rounds were closer than people thought; that they themselves scored the bout close.

The truth boils down to expectations. If one doesn’t know how to score rounds in boxing, or one loses sight of the criteria because they get caught up in the moment, it’s easy to be swayed one way or another, particularly if a fighter exceeds expectations. In Jeff Horn’s case, the majority of fans and pundits wrote him off as a no-hoper against the legendary Pacquaio, and most had never seen him fight before so had no idea of what to expect in terms of style or strengths.

Horn came out with his theoretical guns blazing and made the fight a rough affair, at times downright dirty with one or two obviously intentional headbutts and elbows. In the process he cut and bloodied Manny, which we all know can sway some judges or fans who don’t know how to score rounds or find it hard to keep the criteria in mind once they see blood.

Pacquiao, to no one’s surprise, kept his cool and continued to do what he does. On top of Horn exceeding expectations, Manny appears to have lost a step due to age, and isn’t the explosive and seemingly super-humanly fast fighter we once knew. So, for some viewers, he underperformed to their expectations.

The combination of Horn exceeding expectations and Pacquiao not looking as unbeatable as he once did have contributed to some claiming that it shouldn’t be surprising or controversial that Horn won the decision. This type of “logic” is unfortunately common in boxing—try to justify the nonsense and disgrace that we see done right before our eyes by creating some sort of reason for it to make sense.

The fact is that Pacquiao clearly won the fight. If one maintains a clear and unbiased mind and scores each round separately from the others—as you’re supposed to do—using the four criteria, there should be no question about who won. Simply coming forward or being aggressive, regardless of how ineffective that aggression may be, does not win rounds.

It makes it even more disappointing that such disgraceful decisions still happen so frequently in boxing, since ESPN saw fantastic television ratings for the Pacquiao-Horn bout. Instead of a great night for the sport, increasing the television viewership with a big name star like Manny Pacquaio in a fun, action-filled fight, those new or returning viewers were shown why they can’t take boxing seriously. How emotionally invested will most people become in a sport that frequently robs and disrespects its own athletes?

The only way this sort of disgraceful judging will change is if the sport changes the way judges are compensated. Currently, they are paid directly by the promoters of a fight, rather than by the athletic commissions. It’s an obvious conflict of interest, and is the primary reason it’s easy to wonder about corruption when a dubious or downright bad decision is turned in.

In addition, a critical eye needs to be turned to professional boxing judges’ ability to mentally perform at such a high level. It takes a lot of focus and intensity to properly score rounds in a fight, and we have seen many cases in recent years where the judges involved in poor scoring became confused either about which fighter was which (as in the recent Burnett-Haskins fight in the UK) or just confused in general (as in the Tony Thompson-Luis Ortiz bout in March 2016). It seems that many sanctioning bodies and athletic commissions aren’t taking the jobs that judges perform as seriously as they should.

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  1. Jeff Porn 09:39am, 08/04/2017

    a smattering of writers across the web have risen up to make excuses about why the decision wasn’t such a horrible

    one. They have claimed that the ESPN commentators were biased towards Pacquiao; that the rounds were closer than

    people thought; that they themselves scored the bout close.

    The truth boils down to expectations. If one doesn’t know how to score rounds in boxing, or one loses sight of the

    criteria because they get caught up in the moment, it’s easy to be swayed one way or another, particularly if a

    fighter exceeds expectations. In Jeff Horn’s case, the majority of fans and pundits wrote him off as a no-hoper

    against the legendary Pacquaio, and most had never seen him fight before so had no idea of what to expect in terms

    of style or strengths.

    Horn came out with his theoretical guns blazing and made the fight a rough affair, at times downright dirty with

    one or two obviously intentional headbutts and elbows. In the process he cut and bloodied Manny, which we all know

    can sway some judges or fans who don’t know how to score rounds or find it hard to keep the criteria in mind once

    they see blood.

    Pacquiao, to no one’s surprise, kept his cool and continued to do what he does. On top of Horn exceeding

    expectations, Manny appears to have lost a step due to age, and isn’t the explosive and seemingly super-humanly

    fast fighter we once knew. So, for some viewers, he underperformed to their expectations.

    The combination of Horn exceeding expectations and Pacquiao not looking as unbeatable as he once did have

    contributed to some claiming that it shouldn’t be surprising or controversial that Horn won the decision. This type

    of “logic” is unfortunately common in boxing—try to justify the nonsense and disgrace that we see done right before

    our eyes by creating some sort of reason for it to make sense.

  2. Ivan Drago 09:32am, 08/04/2017

    Boxing Trainer and analyst, Teddy Atlas made his displeasure known regarding the decision as he spoke to fellow Sportscaster Steven A. Smith on the ESPN network. Atlas speculated that the reason for the controversial decision was either due to corruption or greed. When Smith asked him to elaborate further, Atlas referenced the attendance at the Brisbane stadium (a reported 55,000) and the commercial success of the event.

    This time the outspoken Analyst made a very interesting point. No one can take away Jeff Horn’s clean cut image, determination, hard work, etc. away from him, but the reality of it was he simply did not do enough to secure a win against the living legend, Pacquiao!

    According to Compubox, overall Horn threw landing 15% of his punches while Pacquiao landed 37% of his punches during the fight nearly stopping Horn in the 9th. The referee admonished Horn of possibly stopping the fight after the 9th round. It doesn’t matter that Horn won or had a few good rounds or had the crowd cheering for him. The fight is judged over 12 rounds on the scorecards.

    During the post fight interview in the ring, Pacquiao was asked if he wanted a rematch. Pacquiao cited a rematch clause and that he would look to enforce it.

    According to fellow sports writers and fans, this controversial decision in no way takes away from wanting to see Pacquiao fight a rematch with Mayweather should he likely prevail against MMA fighter Connor McGreggor or possible fights against Crawford, Broner, etc.


    Even though Pacquiao is 38 and is clearly not the same fighter he was 5 years ago, he clearly won against Horn and is still performing on world class level. If a Pacquiao-Horn rematch is good economically for Brisbane Australia as Atlas insinuated which was likely the reason for the controversial decision, then Pacquiao’s revenge for getting robbed should be no rematch.

    Pacquiao should then continue to pursue a rematch with Mayweather or pursue other “big fights”. That will send a message to International Promoters that if an out of town fighter can’t get a fair shake in their town, other fighter management should use that incident as a reason to stay in the USA instead of fighting abroad. If Pacquiao rematches with Horn it should be in Las Vegas or the Philippines so he gets a fair shake, if he outperforms Horn for a second time.

  3. Pete The Sneak 09:15am, 07/10/2017

    Caryn, another nice write up…Thanks! With the whole ‘controversy’ thing going, I think this is certainly worthy of a rematch and would probably generate even more ratings on ESPN because of it. It would be very interesting to see how Manny would prepare and handle Horn’s roughhousing tactics this time around knowing what he now knows, while also looking to see if Horn will try to change anything. This actually was an entertaining fight in spite of the outcome and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again and yes, definitely in Australia…Peace.

  4. nonprophet 07:32am, 07/10/2017

    Yet another outstanding article by Caryn.

    Meanwhile, it’s basically a stretch for anyone to try to assess Horn’s performance against Bailey as some kind of barometer with regard to Horn’s boxing skills.

    Bailey is a hard puncher but mediocre boxer.  But most importantly, Bailey was 41 years old at the time of their bout.

    Bailey’s no boxer.  Manny is.  And young Horn did well, but was thoroughly out-boxed, this time by Pac, who is pushing 40.

    And now the energetic young-blood Horn is calling out yet another old-timer who has been retired for two years….Mayweather. 

    Why not call out another in-his-prime young-blood with similar levels of energy and legitimate boxing ability?

    Why not Spence?  Why not Thurman?

    I think that when Ali said, “rumble YOUNG MAN, rumble,” he wasn’t talking about young men rumbling with fossils.

  5. tuxtucis 06:00am, 07/10/2017

    @Jeff Weston: After 7th round, it’s hard to give Horn a single round if not the 12th (and i didn’t).

  6. Jeff Weston 05:17am, 07/10/2017

    “Pacquiao clearly won the majority of the rounds”. Caryn - do please tell me: Which rounds did Pac win? I’d suggest you need to elaborate a little more.

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:30am, 07/09/2017

    Qudratillo Abduqaxorov!!!!!

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:24am, 07/09/2017

    If ever a fighter deserved…..yes!.....perish the thought!.....deserved to be KOd, it was Charles Manyuchi in his bout with the fighter with the unspellable/unpronounceable name….and did he ever and good God Almighty it was a thing of beauty!

  9. Kid Blast 09:39am, 07/09/2017

    Horn was prepared. Manny wasn’t. Doen’s Roach watch films or videos? He had to know that Horn is big in the same sense as Joe Smith is big., and that he is an all-attack roughhousing kind of fighter with a solid chin. Also, what happened to Manny’s body attack?

    Like I said, poor preparation.

  10. procopy 02:05am, 07/09/2017

    I saw Randall Bailey once and I never forget that fight. In an undercard of a Pac fight years ago. He got schooled by a younger fighter from rounds 1 to 10. He has not much movement and cant even land a punch. Then on the 11th he hit the kid flush and the guy just vomited blood like he was hit by a shotgun at point blank range and the fight was stopped. But Bailey is certainly not on Mannys league. If Horn was able to beat him its because of the same handicap. He may have tremendous power but quite lacking in skills.

  11. tuxtucis 08:07am, 07/08/2017

    Scoring rounds on the basis of pure aggression without considering how effective this aggression is, is one of biggest plagues of this sport…

  12. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:22am, 07/08/2017

    Are we quite done shittin’ on Jeff Horn yet? Three time world champ Randall Bailey who happens to be is a shitty, nasty puncher with an 85% KO ratio and just may be the hardest puncher pound for pound in boxing landed flush on Horn and after taking an eight count Horn proceeded to beat the piss out of Bailey. The guy has a metal pipe in his throat because his larynx was crushed in sparring so he’s obviously no Goddamned sissy.  Manny will get him in a rematch but once again it won;t be easy. He doesn’t match up well with Spencer, Porter or Thurman but you can bet your ass he will be hammer and tong with Timmy Bradley BTW a lot of so called experts didn’t seem to know who the fuk Randall Bailey was?!

  13. Koolz 06:16pm, 07/07/2017

    It was pretty obvious that the Australian audience was controlling the fight!  I have watched that fight three times it’s very entertaining fight, very fast paced too.

    During the fight anything Horn did was a cheer from the audience and if you heard the Australian commentators Mate!  you would laugh.  Horn could do no wrong.

    But what about that Easter fight and the judges scoring that crazyness.  Honestly there have been to many bad decisions in boxing lately.  It’s not just USA fights or being bias towards a fighter either.  Japan really messed up with Murata .

    Are we going to see more!  Yea bet we are Mate! 

    Looks like the WBO is doing a special review of the fight and Roach is talking about rematch if Pac wants it.  Horn is ready to get that Head lock going!  It’s Dirty Fighting no matter what country there going to fight in!

    Head lock, back of the head punch, push, trip…  Ok Box!

  14. Lucas McCain 05:07pm, 07/07/2017

    Caryn Tate:  nice, measured writing

    Irish Frankie:  sounds like you are writing a new Kipling poem!

  15. ding 03:21pm, 07/07/2017

    it is sad really that a lot of money invested on this boxing promotion to gain respectability, fame, and fortune ended up as a complete failure in the eyes of the world. instead of calling the event a success of sport discipline and gentleman’s game in this part of the world, robbery was the harsh word that reverberated throughout sporting world. what a shame.

  16. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 02:39pm, 07/07/2017

    If Waleska Roldan had given Horn every round but the ninth…..try as hard as she did….she just couldn’t quite bring herself to do the deed…..guess what? The decision still would not have been overturned…..think about that for a minute! This sport or more to the point certain organizations like the WBO just love judges like Waleska and BTW they hate instant replay. This is a classic case of misdirection…...her crazy scoring over here makes the other two over there seem reasonable by comparison when in actuality those scores were looney tunes too and should have been flipped in Manny’s favor in order to make any sense at all.

  17. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:11pm, 07/07/2017

    Caryn Tate-If you are 21 years of age or older…..can pass a background check…..are registered as a USA Boxing judge ( years of experience or number of bouts judged are not specified )....if you can pass an eye exam ( some judges have clearly memorized the eye chart ).....if you can demonstrate your chops by judging a fight video….if you can complete a six month to one year mentorship under a senior boxing judge ( looks like some can be fast tracked for certain reasons ).....you too can be a boxing judge licensed by the NSAC..Ahh but here’s the kicker…..“you must have the ability to concentrate and focus on the bout without being distracted by the surroundings”....this is where it all falls apart!

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