Terry O’Connor appeared to look at his phone during Lewis Ritson’s bout with Miguel Vazquez in Peterborough
The judge accused of looking at his phone during a bout has been called before the stewards of the British Boxing Board of Control.
Pictures taken during Lewis Ritson’s bout with Miguel Vazquez in Peterborough on Saturday showed Terry O’Connor, one of the three ringside judges, apparently looking down at his phone.
Robert Smith, general secretary of the board, on Monday confirmed O’Connor would appear before a panel of stewards to explain the allegations. “The scoring of the contest will also be discussed,” he added.
Ritson, from Newcastle, was awarded a controversial split-decision points win over Vazquez, with O’Connor scoring the contest 117-111 in favour of the Briton. The two other judges scored the bout 116-113 to Vazquez, a former world champion, and 115-113 to Ritson.
The event’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, said that it was “a positive move” by the board to ask the official to outline his judging decisions. The situation highlighted, he added, that judges should be made accountable for “horrendous scorecards”, and that if a mobile phone was being used, “it simply cannot be allowed”.
“If it was not a phone and was a notebook, it just changes the situation to a bad score,” said Hearn. “Let’s see what happens in the inquiry. If it was a phone, these devices should not be allowed at ringside. I don’t believe, nor am I suggesting, there is any deliberate wrongdoing or anything underhand going on, but if it was a phone, there is no excuse. If it was any kind of device unrelated to the event or the work the judge is doing, it simply cannot be allowed.
“Anyone who does not do their job well – in business or sport – should be held accountable. Officiating sports is one of the most difficult jobs, but judges need to be held accountable. It was a horrendous scorecard. It does happen in boxing, but it happens too often. At what point are the judges going to be held accountable for having an effect on the career of the fighter?
“That is positive [that there will be a stewards hearing]. He should be called in over the scorecard itself, to explain why he scored the 12 rounds like that in front of a panel. Even going through the fight round by round. This process needs to happen more often anyway. We know that fights look different on television to what is seen ringside. But scorecards like this are a bad look for the sport.”
Hearn suggested that “open scoring”, as the Word Boxing Council has used with the scores made public every four rounds in 12-round championship fights, could be the way forward.
“I don’t mind open scoring, which we have used under the WBC in Italy when we have had events there. From the product point of view it takes some of the drama away from the scores being read out at the end. But when the scores are made public the boxers and the corners know what they need to win the fight in the last four rounds, whether they need to go for a stoppage or not. I think it makes it more compelling.”