A major rule change is taking place in the boxing world as the Nevada State Athletic Commission has approved the use of instant replay in bouts that they sanction. This ruling is extended over into the domain of mixed martial arts as well.
The new instant replay system in boxing is setup so that it can be used anytime a cut or injury is in question. The control of the replay is entirely in the hands of the referee, who can go over the tape to see whether a cut was caused by a punch or a head butt.
This is an important ruling in the course of a fight and matches can end up with completely different outcomes as a result. Therefore it’s important that the referees be able to get the call right, and the institution of instant replay is a great step towards that direction.
For example, had the recent Nate Campbell vs. Timothy Bradley match been held in Vegas from here on out, the referee could have correctly ruled that the cut Campbell suffered was caused from a head butt. Instead of Campbell having another loss on his record, the fight would have been ruled a No Contest.
The boxing instant replay system in Nevada is similar to that used in the NFL, according to officials. This means that to change a ruling there has to be inconclusive evidence in the eyes of the referee, or else the initial call stands.
What the instant replay system won’t cover however is judgments on whether a knockdown was legitimate. This is another important situation in which boxing could use instant replay, and it would be beneficial to the sport to work that into the rules as well down the line.
Even though boxing doesn’t have a national commission, and states are free to stand by their own rules for the most part, this is still a watershed moment in the sport. This is because the majority of the biggest boxing matches that take place are held within the state, at the fertile casino grounds in Las Vegas.
Therefore any rule change that becomes instituted in Nevada is sure to gain momentum in other locales as well, particularly if the rule is well received by the public and by the fighters and promoters. Desperate to compete with the drawing power of Vegas, other states are quick to adopt rules that keep them on par with the powerhouse
In 2007 New Jersey became the first state to approve the use of instant replay in boxing bouts. However, with fewer major fights in Atlantic City than there used to be, the ruling did not have an immediate impact on the upper levels of the sport.
Depending on how quickly the system gets put into place, the big Floyd Mayweather vs. Juan Manuel Marquez fight in mid-September will either be the first major fight with instant replay, or the last one without it.
Sources: Nevada State Athletic Commission, Dan Rafael ESPN