Promoter Ben Shalom wants to roll out an improved judging protocol for the upcoming junior welterweight title bout between Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall.
Shalom, the head of Boxxer, did not specifically say what such an improvement would look like or entail. In any case, Shalom made it clear that he wants some element of reform for the rematch since the first fight was regarded by many as one of the worst decisions in recent British boxing history.
In February, Scotland’s Taylors successfully defended his undisputed 140-pound titles against England’s Catterall in a 12-round bout in Taylor’s home turf of Glasgow, winning a split decision (112-113 for Catterall, 114-111 and 113-112 for Taylor)—many in the boxing world, however, were outraged by the result, believing Catterall, who even dropped Taylor at one point during their fight, had done more than enough to be declared the victor. Public outcry was harsh, as fans and pundits quickly characterized the verdict as another black eye for boxing, a sport that has long struggled to stave off suspicions of skullduggery.
The British Boxing Board of Control launched an investigation into the judges and ended up downgrading the status of veteran judge Ian John-Lewis, who scored the bout 114-111 for Taylor. The Board took issue with John-Lewis’ margin.
After refusing to entertain a rematch with Catterall and planning on a move to go up to 147 pounds, Taylor ended up backtracking. To ensure the rematch, Taylor relinquished three of his 147-pound titles — WBA, WBC, and IBF. His rematch with Catterall is reportedly being targeted for late February or early March for Taylor’s WBO title.
In a recent interview, Shalom, whose promotional company is a major partner with Sky, the British broadcaster, made it clear he wants to implement “something new” as it relates to the judges.
“I think Taylor-Catterall II will be the first fight where we introduce something,” Shalom told SecondsOut. “You will see it early next year. And yes, look, we want to see a lot of change in the sport. We’ve seen that with judging, we’ve seen that with regulation, we’ve seen that with doping. Everything. We are working hard. That’s why we wanted to come into the sport. We’ve proven a lot in terms of shows and signings, and I feel next year will be an even bigger year for us and something Sky has committed to as well.
“I’m hoping Taylor-Catterall II could be a fitting way to see something different.”
Shalom said that the new wrinkle could potentially consist of adding more judges.
“I think for the big fights a lot of people want to see a different way of judging the fight, or maybe more judges, or maybe judges in the (television) trucks,” Shalom said. “We’ve seen it everywhere in every other sport they do everything they can to get big decisions right. And there’s no sport where winning and losing matters more than boxing. Something we are constantly pushing forward, something Sky and [Sky boxing head] Adam Smith are massive advocates for.”