Jake Paul’s new judging ideas are flawed but well-meaning

In the aftermath of the Josh Taylor vs. Jack Catterall fallout, Jake Paul shared his thoughts on improving judging in boxing. 

The split decision in favor of Josh Taylor over Jack Catterall infuriated much of the boxing world, including Jake Paul. The active cruiserweight boxer and popular YouTuber offered his perspective on how to remediate boxing’s judging.

Undisputed super lightweight champion Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) was expected to have an easy time with the challenger Catterall. Instead, Catterall shocked Taylor and fans alike by being the more active fighter.

Catterall (26-1, 13 KOs) threw 219 more punches than Taylor and landed 47 more, according to CompuBox. Punch statistics aren’t enough to determine a winner alone, but they do tell some of the tendencies of the bout.

In the court of public opinion, Catterall deserved the victory, but only one judge scored the fight for him with a score of 113-112. The other two judges had it 114-111 and 113-112 for Taylor. The outcome got the word “embarrassing” trending on Twitter.

Many ripped the judges and the sport of boxing as a whole. Poor judging is nothing new in boxing, but Paul offered a solution.

“I think there should be 6 boxing judges for title fights, 3 pairs of 2. Each pair has to agree on the same score at the end of the round & if they don’t, they briefly debate their reasoning,” read Paul’s Tweet. “Almost like a jury system. These poor decisions change the shape of the sport forever.”

Could Jake Paul be right about changes to boxing judging?

Paul’s frustration is understandable. Too many deserving winners have been denied victories due to incompetent judging. However, doubling the judge count isn’t the answer.

Paul’s ideas contain some logic. Having judges working in pairs could help maintain some oversight, but it could also double the ineptitude displayed by many judges. Also, when you add in more people, you increase the number of possible conflicts.

As they say, you want to avoid too many cooks in the kitchen. Also, who’s to say that a pair of judges could come to a consensus, and what happens if they don’t?

Paul got it right when he said that “poor decisions change the shape of the sport,” but it doesn’t seem like it’s going away or that there’s much that can be done about it. Judging is a subjective action that is highly susceptible to human error.

There are possible solutions. Boxing judges could be given objective real-time information like live CompuBox statistics. That could help judges make informed decisions about how to score challenging rounds. The negative is that the numbers could unfairly bias scoring in the process. Judges could become over-reliant on punch counts instead of punch effectiveness and ring generalship.

You could also have a fourth overseeing judge whose card is enacted in the case of a split decision. This score could add weight to the predominant judges’ consensus or force a draw. Then again, more judges, more problems.

It’s likely that nothing will change in boxing. Sanctioning bodies often appear corrupt and antiquated. They’re painfully slow to procure change, so expect much more judging as you saw from Taylor vs. Catterall.