Some fight judges have stayed too long at ringside. With their minds sketchy and maybe all their motor skills fading, some pencil pushers who decide important boxing matches can be compared to older drivers who can’t concentrate on traffic conditions.
But Nevada commission judge Chuck Giampa got out at the pinnacle of his judging skills, maybe even left too early, and is now a consultant in the sport/business.
In the wake of the Erislandy Lara-Paul Williams scoring brouhaha in Atlantic City and other clearly botched, incompetent and hopefully not corrupt scoring, Giampa offers a reminder about the fallibility of all judges.
“That kid Lara was out and out robbed in that fight, he really was,” Giampa said. “He threw more and he landed more punches. You can’t give to Williams just on his potential. I gave it to Lara by 116-112 or 117-111. It was just not close.”
In 1961, I think it was, Yankees manager Ralph Houk, who handled both Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle on a team filled with superstars had a book out entitled “Ballplayers Are Human, Too.” I recall reading it cover to cover.
If Giampa penned a book, it might be called “Fight Judges Are Human, Too.”
SEE GIAMPA’S IMPRESSIVE, FIGHT JUDGING RESUME, COURTESY OF BOX REC.
The longtime Las Vegan even gives a most personal example.
“There is no doubt we still badly need more uniformity, more consistency in judging the fights,” Giampa said. “We need to have judges more accountable for their scores. Fighters should not be getting decisions because of their reputations and that is true whether the guy’s name is Paul Williams or Roy Jones. You’re supposed to score every bout like it’s Smith versus Jones and not Smith versus Roy Jones.”
Giampa said, though, that the human condition is always a factor. Judges are not metallic robots.
“I got a fight wrong in the UK and it cost me an assignment for the Frank Bruno-Mike Tyson bout. The fight was Nigel Benn, the British star, against (Thulani) Malinga and it was a split decision.”
Chuck Williams had winner Benn in front 118-109 and judge Omar Mintun favored Malinga, 115-111.
Giampa, who started judging in 1985 and retired in 2010, saw Benn a 114-112 victor. The bout took place in Newcastle Upon Thyne on March 2, 1996.
“I admitted it, I got the winner right but had a wrong scorecard.
“My mother had just died and we had a malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who treated her. I scored two rounds wrong and got the points total wrong and I knew it afterwords.
“I even spoke to (San Francisco Chronicle) boxing writer Jack Fiske and admitted to him I got the seventh and eight rounds wrong in the fight. For my personal reasons, I was not focused like I should’ve been.
“I called up (famed ref and also a Reno court judge) Mills Lane and told him my error. Mills told me to just admit I got it wrong and move ahead, so that is what I did. But because of the controversy in England, Marc (Ratner) did not assign me to Tyson-Bruno. He thought it might cause more controversy,” Giampa said. “I’d have to say that Marc was right on that one.”
One point total that Giampa stoutly defends was his tabulation in the controversial Meldrick Taylor-Julio Cesar Chavez title bout in Las Vegas. Ref Richard Steele ignited a debate that continues to this day about whether he should’ve waved it off as Chavez ripped into Taylor with a barrage of punches.
The fact that only two seconds were left in the 12 round bout at the Las Vegas Hilton on March 17, 1990, really set Taylor, his camp and his fans off.
“I stand by my scoring on that fight,” Giampa said. “I knew I was right on that one, I had Chavez ahead by one point going into the 12th and final round. Jim Lampley ripped me for that scoring but, just recently he told me he was wrong and he apologized to me. If it had gone two seconds longer, my score would’ve been Chavez by three points.
“Lampley told me that HBO had never gotten so many angry phone calls about a fight. Lampley told me, ‘I thought you were way off but, looking back, now I don’t think so.’ Say what you want but Taylor was never the same after that fight. Chavez really did some serious damage to Taylor that night.”
It kind of got lost in the blame Steele and (Chavez promoter) Don King postfight shuffle but Giampa’s veteran colleagues, Jerry Roth (108-101) and Dave Moretti (107-102( had the Philadelphia fighter and Olympic gold medalist way ahead going into the ultimate round.
In Giampa’s decidedly expert opinion, boxing sorely needs more postfight officiating reviews by commissions and more judging seminars.
“Chuck Minker, who ran the Nevada commission before Marc, he would make look at each round four or five times sometimes. You could disagree with Chuck but he wanted to be satisfied with your explanation of why you scored every round a particular way. Again, accountability is the biggest thing missing in boxing today.”
Back in the day, Giampa explained, older officials passed on meaningful officiating tips to younger colleagues.
“The referee Davey Pearl, he was the one who kept telling me to be skeptical of what Angelo Dundee and Sugar Ray Leonard did so often when Ray fought. Ray would go off in the final 30 seconds of a round and look to steal rounds that way,” Giampa said.
“But, like Pearl told, me Ray’s flurries were mostly just shots that landed on the other guy’s arms, more for show than for substance. So, when I was assigned to judge Ray’s fight with Donny Lalonde, I kept that in mind.”
Though hard-hitting Canadian Lalonde decked Leonard, Sugar Ray came back to win the fight by TKO making the scorecards suitable for the wastebasket.
As for Giampa at this point in his life, there is only judge to whom he is fully accountable and that’s wife Lisa.
Her avocation is as a Nevada commission fight judge.
You know who wins all the “split decisions” at home.