Jimmy Ellis of Louisville will be in double jeopardy next Saturday when he meets California's Jerry Quarry in Oakland for the World Boxing Association heavyweight title. The two hazards are Quarry's powerful counterpunches and the state's "simplified five" scoring system, which aids sluggers, handicaps boxers and could easily be manipulated to favor one fighter. The winner of a round gets one to five points, usually one, and the loser none. But if the winner scores a knockdown he gets as many as four, thus making up for four poor rounds with a single blow. It is the knockdowns that open the way for outrageous decisions, but California judges sometimes don't even need them:
On February 15, Bantamweight Jesus Pimentel of Los Angeles was awarded a decision over Sho Saijyo of Japan. Even L.A.'s chauvinistic Mexican fans were infuriated and littered the ring with refuse. The rest of the card had to be canceled.
L.A.'s Raul Rojas was behind on two cards, and even on the third, going into the 12th round of his March 29 featherweight title fight with Colombian Enrique Higgins. In the 12th, Rojas knocked Higgins sprawling into the ropes (he took a mandatory eight count) with a forearm blow to the head. For this Rojas received three points from each official and went on to an easy decision, 11-6, 10-5, 10-6. What may have been a close Rojas victory, or more likely a draw, became a walkaway.
In Quarry's two fights with Floyd Patterson he came off with a draw and a split decision. In neither fight would he have come close under another scoring system. In total, Patterson won 12 of 22 rounds and Quarry no more than eight. In the first fight, judges gave Patterson two points for a knockdown and Quarry three. In the second, Quarry was given three points by one official for a knockdown that was thought by many to be the result of a slip, and this was the deciding factor in the split decision.
"The situation is vicious and obvious in California," says one Los Angeles fight manager. "This state is notorious for bum decisions."
It would be shocking if another championship—even a WBA version—were decided by a questionable verdict.
WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR
Pope Paul VI, like most other Italians, is a soccer fan and admits he had been looking forward to the audience he granted to the Lazio team and its management. Before blessing them, however, he heard a tale of woe.
"Your Holiness," lamented the team president, "our affairs are regretfully most unfortunate. We went out to win the championship and instead our hopes have been dashed...."