The World Amateur Championships that finished in Belgrade on Saturday was the last major amateur tournament with a ten-point must scoring system, as AIBA look to introduce a new transparent scoring method to root out corruption.
A new scoring system, which will see points awarded for good work rather than being removed for losing rounds, is to be unveiled in January along with plans for a world ranking system that will lead to an end-of-year tournament for the world’s leading amateurs.
Istvan Kovacs, AIBA’s new secretary general, has been given the job of restructuring the way the sport in the wake of scandals that saw them lose responsibility for overseeing it at the Tokyo Olympics.
Kovacs, the former WBO featherweight champion and Olympic gold medallist as well as a two-time world amateur champion, was part of the IOC Task Force that ran boxing for the Olympics having left his long-term role with the WBO to help lead amateur boxing back from the wilderness.
His role will include rooting out any referees or judges tainted by corruption or who are simply not up to the judge. A new scoring system will make the sport easier to understand and more difficult to fix.
“The best scoring system is working bad if you have a bad judge. The worst scoring system could be good if you have a good judge,” Kovacs said.
“We hired the McLaren investigation to make an independent assessment of the R&Js (referees and judges). They are doing a background check, they collect all the information about the officials and then they are sending us a list of who is clear on the green list and also a red list. And if they are on the red list they will never work with AIBA again.
“If someone is cheating, or not fair or just not able to do it, because sometimes the judge is not corrupt but just not able to do it.”
Kovacs does not believe a ten-point must system works over three rounds, but also says the new system should not merely reflect every punch landed, as it previously did.
“Boxing is a very strange sport,” he said. “One part is one of the best sports in the world, but if you don’t understand the rules of the scoring system you will not understand the result. The ten-point must system was created for professional boxing for 15 rounds. It’s perfect because most of the time, the one who won more rounds will win the contest. But in three rounds it is not good.
“They brought back the ten-point must system to make it more like the professionals. They had the APB (AIBA Professional Boxing) and the WSB (World Series of Boxing), but it was not working. When I started boxing there was a 20-point system.
“At the moment 95 per cent of the rounds are 10-9, which is ridiculous. It means if you lose two rounds 10-9, you have no chance of winning the fight, even if it is very close and you win the last round widely, which is not fair.
“When we are ready to introduce a new system, we are not deducting points from ten, but we are giving points. It won’t be the same as the typewriter system, we have to understand we have to show the result for the audience during the round, not just at the end and we have to show exactly what is happening in the ring. That will start January 1.
“Soccer is easy, if the ball is in the net, it is 1-0. Boxing is more complicated. You have to score ring generalship, you score movement, you don’t just score per punch, but you score whether it is a power punch or a jab.
“We are telling our judges that you have to see the fight like a story. During the story you have to realise who is leading and what is happening in the ring. And the TV watcher needs to see this during the round, not just see something totally different at the end of the round.”
The first part of McLaren’s report highlighted a series of dubious decisions from the Rio Olympics, but Kovacs insists that AIBA must clean house to ensure there is no repeat.
“We can’t do anything with the past, the past has happened,” he said. “We are coming to AIBA to renew the system and learn from mistakes of the past.
“I cannot bring money, I can’t pay the debt, but I promised to the board of directors to solve the problems with the R&Js and the problems with rules and regulations and competition system.”
While Kovacs had success as both an amateur and a professional, he said there are many advantages to the amateur sport when working out who is the best and the introduction of competitive prize money – each world champion in Belgrade won $100,000 – is a step towards keeping the best amateurs together.
“It is way harder to be an amateur world champion than a professional world champion because there is only one amateur world champion every two years,” Kovacs said.
“We are very proud of Klitschko and Joshua and Usyk because they grew up in our family. They may have got better since they went professional, but they did not become way better. Joshua became two times bigger and Usyk became bigger too than when they won the Games, but they learnt most of those skills in the amateur game. We have to create an amateur league, to make amateur boxing as popular as professional boxing.
“Amateur boxing is not under the spotlight. Our job is to bring the spotlight during the amateur career. Starting January 1, we want to create a Diamond League with a new ranking system and at the end of the year invite the best four or eight boxers. It will change almost everything in amateur boxing.
“I had a dream job with the WBO, but I realized AIBA and amateur boxing was in a strange situation. If I felt I could help, I decided to change my life and move to Lausanne and leave everything behind me. I’m not 100 per cent sure I can do it myself, but I found a team and the president is also dedicated to renewing AIBA and amateur boxing. We are in the last moment, maybe event later than the last moment.”