Five judges sit around the ring, but crucially only three of their scores count. The three scoring judges are chosen randomly by computer.
This system is designed to prevent fights being fixed because it is a lottery as to whose scorecards count.
Jones Kennedy Silva Da Rosario (Brazil), Bandara Talik Udoni Kiridena (Sri Lanka) and Mariusz Gorny (Poland) were the three scoring judges in Conlan’s fight. Like unused substitutes, the two non-scoring judges were Tony Germain (Canada) and Nighio Trong Vuong (Vietnam)
The system being used in Rio is yet another ‘new’ approach but patently it hasn’t worked.
Initially, there was an extraordinary number of split decisions. But in the last 48 hours the credibility of the entire system was called into question. Both controversies have involved Russian boxers. On Monday night in the heavyweight final, Russia’s Evgency Tishchenko was adjudged to have beaten Vassiliy Levit from Kazakhstan.
But most observers in the arena were convinced that Levit had won comfortably.
One of the scoring judges in this fight was respected Omagh judge and referee Michael Gallagher.
Then came the Conlan decision. The current model of scoring is based on what is used in the professional game.
It has been argued that this system was adopted by AIBA, the world governing body of ‘amateur’ boxing, because they want to turn the sport into another version of the pro game.
It replaces the computer scoring system which was introduced at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 after American boxer Roy Jones Jnr was blackguarded and deprived of the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics four years earlier.
But the computer system was badly flawed as well and ultimately ditched after the London Games.
Judging in boxing is cruel, arbitrary and woefully subjective but the boxers know this before they step into the ring. Ultimately, short of stopping their opponent, they cannot guarantee themselves a victory.
The history of the Olympics has been littered with appalling decisions. In Olympic finals in 1952 (John McNally), 1956 (Fred Tiedt) and 2008 (Kenneth Egan), Irishmen were adjudged to have lost by the judges, but nearly everybody else believed they had won.
But it is worth remembering that the outrage in Ireland over Conlan’s decision won’t cause anybody to lose any sleep in AIBA headquarters.
It will be business as usual as well for the rest of the Olympic tournament.
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