A controversial split decision in a Scottish super-lightweight title fight last February could lead to VAR scoring in an upcoming rematch between the two fighters.
The champion Josh Taylor of Scotland narrowly defeated challenger Jack Catterall of England on Feb. 26 even though Catterall knocked Taylor down in the eighth round and appeared safely ahead on points. The judges, however, awarded the victory — along with the WBO, IBF, WBA and WBC titles — to Taylor with scores of 114-111, 113-112 and 112-113.
“Today I should have been waking up with all of the belts,” Catterall posted on Instagram 24 hours after the verdict. “…Boxing, shame on you…Dreams stolen.”
Since then, promoter Ben Shalom has worked to secure a rematch that could potentially include VAR technology similar to what is deployed globally in soccer. A second fight is now tentatively scheduled for March in Glasgow, Scotland, alongside discussions to implement automated scoring in boxing for the first time.
“I actually spoke to Robert Smith [chief of the British Boxing Board of Control] about that,” Shalom told talkSport.com. “We’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on for this fight to have [VAR]—we’ll see. I hope next year is when we’ll see a different way of judging the top fights. Look at what we’ve got now with football, with VAR.”
“[It] could [be] two judges…in a truck [watching on screens] as well, judging at the same time as the three next to ringside. There’s opportunities now perhaps if everyone is open-minded to take boxing into a place where it’s never been before. That fight is so significant because of the outrage it caused, and that’s what’s giving us the impetus to try and make a change.”
February’s split decision created vitriol in Europe, starting with an investigation by the British Boxing Board of Control and incendiary remarks by the British House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, a native of Catterall’s hometown who called the scoring “a travesty of justice.”
At the same time, an incensed Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) made it clear he would grant Catterall (26-1, 13 KOs) a re-match in the super-lightweight 140-pound weight class. Taylor then ducked so many other mandated opponents in the past year — in order to make a second fight happen — that he was stripped of his IBF, WBA and WBC titles.
That publicity, in part, led Shalom to pursue VAR: “That is something that we’re really trying to push and also very confident that we could see in the next year or two, yeah…We’re talking about help from technology, and we’re talking about perhaps judges that can watch things back at the very highest level.”