WBC Wants More Judges And Video Replays For Tyson Fury Vs Oleksandr Usyk

February 19, 2024
4 months
Image if Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk

The World Boxing Council (WBC) wants to see the number of ringside judges for Tyson Fury’s undisputed heavyweight bout with Oleksandr Usyk increased from three to five or six, president Mauricio Sulaiman has said.

WBC champion Fury and IBF, WBA, and WBO holder Usyk are set to clash on May 18 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the winner becoming the first undisputed heavyweight champion in the four-belt era.

For such a historic occasion with so much at stake, Sulaiman has proposed deploying more official judges to score the fight as a solution to prevent any controversial scoring for a bout that could be close if it goes to the scorecards.

“Boxing is a sport in which change is very difficult to get. We’re purists, traditionalists, we don’t want changes,” Sulaiman said in an interview with Sky Sports. “We had proposed to use five judges, or six judges. However, that was not considered, it did not happen. I would still recommend [it].

“I will continue to make the proposal. Some like the idea, some of the people in the decision-making process. We will see.”

Boxing has seen plenty of dodgy scoring decisions over the years, which can have a hugely negative impact both on the losing fighter’s career and to the reputational damage it causes to the sport.

One of the most high-profile and egregious instances of bad scoring took place two years ago in February 2022 when Jack Catterall was denied a clear victory – and with it the opportunity to become undisputed light-welterweight champion – when the judges awarded Josh Taylor a split decision win, despite Catterall dominating the fight. Catterall will finally get his chance at revenge after the rematch was last week agreed for April.

It is with incidents like that in mind that prompted Sulaiman to call for greater protection of the legitimacy of the scoring system.

“Anybody can have a bad night. If you have one judge have a bad night and the two others get it correct, you still save the fight. You have two judges with a difficult fight and then one round can shift the whole result,” he said.

“But if you have more officials then the possibility of a wrong score goes to a minimum. That’s the only intention to make sure there’s no controversy. Now we have the biggest fight in 25 years in the heavyweight division. So we have to try to do our best.”

Sulaiman has also frequently called for more video replay to be introduced to boxing, and he again campaigned for its introduction to limit incorrect calls that could be pivotal to the outcome of a fight. The WBC president revealed that he is actively trying to get video replays for May’s historic heavyweight showdown.

“I believe it will happen, now that the fight has been postponed until May 18, three months from now, we will look into it,” he said. “The initial idea was to put together specific guidelines of the usage of instant replay and we’re in that process. So we’re going to work with the producers of the feed to see what equipment and what communications are needed, what the review panel will be, just go into details.

“As an example, we did instant replay in the UK with Charlie Edwards and [Julio Cesar] Martinez and we just did instant replay in Fury-Ngannou when Fury was cut, the referee he didn’t see any action that made the cut, ruled it a punch and then the British Boxing Board of Control and myself looked at the screen, the big screen in the stadium and saw the head butt so we called it officially a headbutt.

“But the idea of having the possibility of reviewing a major controversial happening inside the ring, to make the right decision, the right call at the time is basically it. To have the absolute certainty that there will not be a controversy. That in a fight of this magnitude would be absolutely unacceptable.”

Fury and Usyk have had their fight date pushed back twice but will finally meet in three months. Their initial date of December 23 had to be postponed after Fury’s tougher-than-expected bout against boxing novice Francis Ngannou, before the most recent date of February 17 was scrapped after Fury suffered a “freak cut” in sparring.