We want our referees and officials to be accountable.

We also want them to have the chance to explain their actions.

But in a sport that doesn’t make wholesale use of VAR (video-assisted replays) what we don’t need is a public hanging like the one received by Eddie Claudio yesterday in New Jersey.

Claudio was the official in charge for the close and entertaining fight between Mongolia’s Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Namibia’s Sakaria Lukas at Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel and Casino.

Early in round eight, Nyambayar went down and the referee called it a slip. 

The fighters, unsurprisingly, had differing opinions afterwards. 

“I thought I won the fight and I didn’t believe it was a knockdown,” contended Nayambayar.

Lukas, who’d flown 30 hours at late notice for the fight, disagreed.

“Everyone saw it was a knockdown that should have given me a split-decision win,” he said. “I fought my heart out and I deserved the win.”

Claudio was called to explain his decision by Showtime’s Jim Gray and the official said that, in real time, he didn’t see a punch cause the knockdown.

Then, on a big screen in the venue, he was played the clip back twice to review it and legitimately said he still didn’t see the ‘knockdown’ shot. 

By this time, hundreds of fans were booing him and his explanation and he asked for the clip to be played once more.

Gray, meanwhile, was playing the ‘hero’ of the piece and disagreeing with Claudio’s assessment probably having already had his chance to review the footage. Sure, it looked like a left hand had sat Nayambayar down but it wasn’t exactly the left hook Mike Tyson flattened Trevor Berbick with, or the right hand Juan Manuel Marquez brutalized Manny Pacquiao with. It was a subtle shot. A scoring blow, yes, but ‘in real time’ Claudio had not made an absolute howler or a terribly obvious mistake.

The decision was an important one, however, because, had a knockdown been called, Lukas would have won the fight by the narrowest of margins, after it finished a split draw following opposing 96-94 scorecards and another at 95-95 apiece.

The call, or missed call, made all the difference.

What didn’t make a difference was showing Claudio back the clips to try and get him to look stupid.

Claudio did what he could, when he could. And then he explained it post-fight. 

That should have been it. 

Either you install VAR or you leave it alone.

What you can’t do is let a referee make a call in a fight and then show him any error he might have innocently made back to him in front of a pumped-up crowd. It’s not fair and it’s not professional.

If, after making Claudio’s post-fight statement, the New Jersey Commission was not satisfied, they could summon him to go through his decision-making process at a hearing.

The public trial Claudio faced might have made for good TV – and even that’s debatable – but it was futile and even had Claudio seen a shot that caused Nayambayar to drop, he couldn’t change anything, he could have only held his hands up to having made a mistake that had changed the outcome of an important fight.

You either give officials accountability to rectify any mistakes or you accept what they say they see. And you can’t handpick one official and not allow others to explain their actions or thought processes.

In the main event, arguably the worst scorecard of the year so far was handed down by Lynne Carter, who thought Gary Russell Jnr had drawn with and done enough to keep his title against Mark Magasayo. But, of course, she couldn’t be shown an entire fight in front of a baying crowd. Perhaps, like Claudio, she could have been given some airtime to justify her card but the sport needs some standardized procedures.

Claudio clearly felt flustered under the microscope trying to explain what he had not seen, and understandably so. 

Carter dodged any public bullets that might have been fired her way.

One felt for Claudio, and one hopes that after an official has spoken they don’t have to deal with the circumstances Claudio found himself in last night.