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Monday June 26th 2017
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Soklin’s Corner: Open Scoring is a Bad Idea

“Open card scoring is a horrific idea.” I tuned in last Saturday night to watch the main event of Miguel Cotto and Oktay Urkal from Cotto’s hometown of Puerto Rico. The first four rounds of the bout were unspectacular although I was impressed with the punching power of Cotto as well as the persistence of Urkal, whom Lennox Lewis claimed was only fighting for the money. Cotto was dominant and this seemed to be a little more than a tune up fight for a big money fight down the road. Then towards the end of the fourth round, HBO’s Jim Lampley explained that this fight would use the open card scoring system. I must say I agree with Lampley, “open card scoring is a horrific idea.”

After the fourth round, Cotto seemed to lose some of that edge. I know he was cut above the eye and he was bleeding but he was not fighting with the same spirit, largely because he was ahead four rounds to zero. Urkal lost a point in the seventh round and the fight almost seemed over, as long as it went to the cards. Cotto knew he had it won, he knew he was impressive in the first six rounds and he knew Judah would be waiting in June in Madison Square Garden. So he bought his time, threw some body punches and was far from spectacular to close out the fight. After the eighth round, a fight broke out in the crowd, exciting the crowd but the action in the ring was not as spectacular.
Eight rounds were finished and Urkal knew he had no chance of winning the fight. A fighter should not be in the ring, especially with someone of Cotto’s strength and punching power, thinking he has no chance of winning the fight. Urkal was in a dangerous position, a fighter should always think they have a “fighter’s chance.” In the eleventh round, Urkal’s corner knowing that he had no chance of winning the fight and because he was penalized for a head butt his corner began waving the white towel.
If the fight went to the cards, Cotto would have won. There was no question about that. Urkal is also 37 years old and the twelfth round could have been brutal. Cotto would have won the fight and there is no debating that. The debate is over open scoring which I don’t understand. As a fan tuning in to see Cotto for the first time it was a rather disappointing ending to an unspectacular but entertaining fight. Urkal’s trainer did admit that the open card scoring system was a factor in ending the fight about one and a half rounds earlier than it should have ended. The open card system, or a system like it was something that you would never see in other sports. Baseball does not end at the seventh inning stretch if the game is out of reach. Basketball and football play the game until the end, no matter what the score. Even hockey has rectified this problem by instituting a shootout. I understand Urkal’s corner and their reasoning for ending the fight when they did. I would have probably done the same thing. It is the system at fault. Jim Lampley and I agree about the atrociousness of open card system.
PS: Larry Merchant’s rant about Puerto Rico at the end of the fight was great, watch it again if you can.


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