I recently had a chance to speak with long time boxing judge C.J. Ross. Ross has judged over twenty title fights, but two of her championship score cards have come under fire in the past. She was one of two judges to score a close points win for Timothy Bradley over Manny Pacquiao, and she was the only judge in the Mayweather-Canelo bout to score that fight even, 114-114. After that September 2013 fight, Ross chose to take a break from the sport. Now over a year later, Ross is ready to return to the sport and wants to set the record straight regarding her judging.
In part 2 of my interview with C.J. Ross, I talk to her about the most controversial scorecard of her judging career, Mayweather-Canelo. Ross talks about why she scored that fight the way she did, and if she see the fight any different today. Ross also talks about how judges are selected for boxing events and how their past scorecards play a large role in what assignments they are given. Additionally Ross speaks about her desire to return to judging and also gives he views on Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Here is what C.J. Ross had to say.
Robert Brown: When commentators criticize judging without understanding the full criteria, does that make things more difficult for judges?
C.J. Ross: No, because we really don’t pay attention to what the commentators say. We know that what they’re doing is trying to stir up controversy to try to make it a show for people. The more they get excited about something and criticize and stir up controversy, the more people write in to them. They try to stimulate that kind of controversy for them, it’s just something TV does.
They are not judges, they really have never been to seminars, it’s just a TV thing. Their job is to create a show and that’s what they try to do but when they start criticizing the judges so often for so much, it gets old I think.
I know a lot of people that have watched fights for years and they turn off the sound now because they don’t like to listen to the commentators. They enjoy watching the fights with their own opinions, instead of listening to the commentators put in their two cents.
Robert Brown: I’d like to get your thoughts on the Mayweather-Canelo fight. You scored that fight a draw and the other two judges had wider margins and after that match you decided to step down from judging. Can you talk to us about that experience?
C.J. Ross: I was asked why my score could have gone to a draw but it just has to be one fighter ending up with six rounds. When you think of it in terms of six rounds and the nearest other judge had an eight round to four card, we weren’t all that far off. It was an even fight, a lot of those rounds were even, they just swung back and forth.
It also depends on what side of the ring you’re on and what you thought from your side of the ring. I know that during that fight, my score reflected what I saw. Maybe the other two judges had a better views than I did on some of the punches, because we can’t see them all if the referee is blocking and it comes down to where you got a few big punches that make a difference in the round, you can be off two or three rounds easily.
I think there’s a big difference between those fighters and their styles and the power that Alvarez has and the strength. Him being so much younger than Mayweather, it may have made a difference in what I saw.
Robert Brown: You don’t believe you got that scorecard wrong, on what you saw?
C.J. Ross: It was right for what I saw. It may not have been right to what the other two judges saw but it was right to what I saw.
Robert Brown: Just to clarify, was your scorecard on the Mayweather-Canelo fight the reason you decided to take a break?
C.J. Ross: I think you could say it’s social media pressure. The commission thought it was best if I just sat out for a few months, and we do that from time to time and most people don’t realize that. A lot of times a boxer or a judge also, if you’re not feeling up to fighting, you take time off. Judges can do that too, we do it all the time.
Robert Brown: Are you planning on coming back at some stage?
C.J. Ross: I would like to. I relocated to a different state, so I probably wouldn’t be in Las Vegas. It’s possible that I could get sent to Las Vegas to do a fight, but I don’t live there now.
Robert Brown: Finally it seems like Mayweather and Pacquiao may agree on a fight after five years of back and forth speculations. As a fan, what are your thoughts on that fight and who do you think would win?
C.J. Ross: I’ve never predicted winners because I’ve seen so many times over the years, it depends on who shows up to fight and how much is in their heart. Anybody can show up for a fight but fighters have bad days, they may have family issues, so to predict who I would think would win the fight, it’s probably gonna come down to who really wants to win the fight.
I think at this point both of them have reached their goals — they may have some financial goals but as far as personal goals from when they first began fighting, I think they’ve reached those goals. Whether or not they have the heart, it will be interesting to see it.
Robert Brown: What judges do you think may be picked for that fight? Who do you think stands the best chance of getting that fight?
C.J. Ross: The commissions are involved in that decision and sometimes they use their past experience, their numbers. They keep all score sheets and I know that in the past we would get a review yearly and we would know how many rounds that we had out by ourselves — that’s what they refer to it as when we don’t agree with the other two judges.
They count up those rounds and if you had, say out of a hundred rounds of boxing you were out by yourself ten rounds and you had a ten percent rating of ‘Outs’ they used to use those figures and I know that there are judges that are down in the two or three percent range. Whether or no they will look at that again, or if they will just do it on a personal basis.
This is a different commission that they have now as opposed to what they had seven years ago and how they’re gonna do it is gonna be their choice. I rather see it be done by the numbers because that’s what you back people with.