The Pod Index
First of all, let me state two things at the outset. Like Matt Podgorski, the developer of the self-titled “Pod Index,” I too am a numbers guy (having worked in various financial capacities as a CPA since 1985). Secondly, what follows is just my opinion so take it for what it’s worth. As a suggested methodology for evaluating the consistency of judges’ scoring in world title fights, judge Matt Podgorski’s “Pod Index” is just that: a quantitative measure of the scoring consistency of a particular judge in accordance with the scores of their fellow officials working the same bout. What it does not do and (with all due respect) probably cannot do is evaluate the qualitative measure of a judge’s scoring performance. Mr. Podgorski is correct in making the analogy of his statistical measure to that of the CompuBox statistics which accurately tracks the number of punches in each round but cannot measure the impact of these same punches as it relates to a judge’s score in a particular round.
As a measuring tool to begin the evaluation of a boxing judge’s performance, it sounds like a good first step. The “Pod Index” is similar to CompuBox as far as being a good tool to help analyze a fight but which cannot by itself determine who the winner of a boxing match should be in terms of a decision. However, as an “end all be all” approach to evaluating judges, the “Pod Index” clearly is lacking. In all fairness to Mr. Podgorski, I think he acknowledges his index’s own shortcomings. For example, in the now famous (or infamous) Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley fight, judge C.J. Ross’s scores in each of the twelve rounds she scored agreed with at least one of her other fellow judges’ scores.
By virtue of the fact that she was never the “lone wolf” judge in any of the controversially scored rounds, did that make her score the most accurate to judge the fairness of the decision awarded to Timothy Bradley? The consensus of the media and the public would seem to indicate no.
As a judge myself, I would suggest not only measuring the round by round scoring of judges in world title fights but would also include the scoring of rounds of all fights, regardless of their significance. I say this for two reasons. First, it would mathematically increase the sample size of rounds included in the “Pod Index” exponentially. Second, as a judge, I have always treated every fight that I am assigned to and therefore every round that I score as equally important and serious. A four-round fight to a fighter making his pro debut is as important to him or her as is a world title fight on The Strip in Las Vegas.
Ultimately though, the only qualitative way to properly evaluate the accuracy of a boxing judge’s scoring performance is by way of an organizational peer review. To its credit, the WBC has now formed its own ring officials review committee which will be more formally introduced at its next convention in Cancun in December, with actual work to begin in earnest starting in 2013. I would hope that all other sanctioning bodies would follow suit and begin the long overdue process of formally and consistently reviewing the performance of its ring officials along with proper follow up, remedies and consequences as determined by these review committees.
Again, to Mr. Podgorski’s credit, as both a fellow judge and a fellow numbers person, I certainly applaud his efforts at coming up with a numerical way to quantify the consistency of judges’ performances in world title bouts. I believe that his index can be used more effectively if (1) expanded to include all judges’ scores in all fights and (2) if used in conjunction with a peer review by the major sanctioning bodies of boxing.