Matt Maher: Tyler Denny’s draw proves there is a case for VAR

Is it time for boxing to introduce VAR?


RIVER WILSON-BENT V TYLER DENNY
RIVER WILSON-BENT V TYLER DENNY

Tyler Denny’s controversial draw with River Wilson-Bent in Coventry last Saturday might be the best argument yet for the sport to embrace modern technology.

Rowley Regis fighter Denny thought he had won the English middleweight title at the third time of asking when the bout was stopped in the seventh round, with his opponent bleeding profusely from a cut above his left eye.

Yet joy quickly turned to anger and exasperation when it became clear referee Ian John-Lewis had ruled the damage was caused by a clash of heads, rather than a punch. That meant the result would decided on the scorecards and frustratingly for Denny, the judges had it tied.

Questionable though the scoring was, John-Lewis’s call began to look increasingly poor when television replays showed Denny landing a series of big shots, while finding no evidence of a head clash which might have caused a cut so severe as the one sustained by Wilson-Bent.

Regular readers of this space will know this columnist is generally against the increased use of video officiating in sport. But boxing is one where, specifically in circumstances where the cause of a stoppage is disputed, it could actually be a major help.

Last Saturday it was clear from replays John-Lewis had made a mistake before the scores were even read out.

Of course, there was no debate over whether the fight should have been halted. Wilson-Bent’s vision was clearly impaired and allowing him to continue would have been dangerous. But had technology been there to assist the officials in the immediate aftermath, it would at least have delivered the correct outcome, with no more delay than normally seen when scores are collated.

Instead, Denny was robbed of his moment. His management team will ask British Boxing’s Board of Control to review the footage but more in hope than expectation.

Like many professional boxers the sport is not Denny’s primary source of income. He makes huge sacrifices to train for every fight and deserved better than he received on Saturday night.

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