“If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” Vince Lombardi
By Alex P. Vidal
The name Craig Metcalfe does not ring a bell among Filipino boxing fans familiar with personalities involved in officiating big time Las Vegas fights probably because he is based in Canada.
Metcalfe, a Canadian, is a last-minute replacement for the “ill” John Keane of Great Britain. A real estate broker in Alberta, Metcalfe will judge the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch on April 12 along with Glenn Trowbridge of Nevada and Michael Pernick of Florida. Kenny Bayless will be the third man in the ring.
Because of the controversy over the first fight, the Nevada State Athletic Commission agreed to assign two judges from outside Nevada. The WBO could only assign a supervisor.
When he was assigned to judge famous duels mostly involving WBC championships in the past, records showed Metcalfe gave margins by a mile to celebrity boxers.
The Pacquiao-Bradley rematch will be the first time in Metcalfe’s 15-year career as judge that he will officiate for two successive times in the gambling capital of the world. He is busy officiating bouts mostly in Canada. Last March 8, Metcalfe was back in Las Vegas when Saul Alvarez TKO’d Alfredo Angulo in 10th. When the fight was terminated, Alvarez was ahead by seven rounds in Metcalfe’s scorecard, 89-82. If the fight set for 12 rounds went the distance, there was no way for Angulo to chase Alvarez’s lead in Metcalfe’s ledger.
Alvarez is the more popular between the two courtesy of his 12-round majority decision defeat to celebrity Floyd Mayweather for WBC light middleweight and WBA super light middleweight crowns on Sept. 14, 2013. Incidentally, Metcalfe was a judge in the Mayweather-Alvarez setto held at the MGM Grand.
Of the three judges, it was Metcalfe’s score that caught the attention of fans with malicious minds. He scored a lopsided 117-111, while Dave Moretti had it 116-112 for Mayweather. Third judge C.J. Ross disagreed with them and submitted a draw, 114-114. Ross, a veteran of more than 30 world title bouts, was the same judge who scored an atrocious 115-113 in favor of Bradley in the first Pacquiao bout on June 9, 2012.
Going back to Metcalfe’s performance in the Mayweather-Alvarez setto. The scorecard showed he had “no mercy” for Canelo, who was never in danger of falling down during the rumble. Many fans wondered if Ross saw the bout even, how in the hell could a fellow judge see a one-sided action when they were both watching and officiating the same pair of protagonists in the ring?
Also, when Vitali Klitschko halted Tomasz Adamek in 10th for WBC heavyweight title at the Stadion Miejski in Wroclaw, Poland on Sept. 10, 2011, Metcalfe’s scorecard was also a head-turning 90-80 at the time of the stoppage. He gave Klitschko almost a shutout score that would have rendered impossible Adamek’s efforts to chase with two rounds left.
Was it a mere coincidence that in all these championship clashes, Metcalfe showed apparent generosity for celebrity fighters like Alvarez, Mayweather and Klitschko by giving them kilometric leads? Pacquiao and Bradley are both also considered as celebrities. Will Metcalfe give weight to their rank in the galaxy of boxing stars? Or he will judge the fight according to their performance?
There was one championship fight, however, that Metcalfe stood ten feet tall. This was when he scored 115-113 for Andre Ward, who retained his WBC/WBA super middleweight belts by unanimous decision against Carl Froch at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Dec. 17, 2011. His tally agreed with fellow judge John Stewart, who also scored 115-113. Third judge John Keane, the man originally assigned in the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch, had a terrible 118-110 also for Ward.
“Metcalfe is a good judge. We have no issue whatsoever,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti recently told ESPN.com.
If no knockout will happen, the fight will be decided anew on the scorecards. We will keep an eye on Metcalfe and his two colleagues.