The history of the Olympics has seen the IOC order calls from various angles within a fight if one fighter thinks he is ahead. It’s the type of new technology that’s being cited as key to bringing the fights to the crowd, so when Saturday’s men’s heavyweight boxing contest between China’s Zou Shiming and Germany’s Ingemar Freund in Rio ended in a draw, Ping-Zhuen Huang, the director of Brazilian Games organization was left scratching his head.
“The rules are very clear. If a fighter is ahead, he’s ahead. If he’s behind, he’s behind. If there’s a tie, he has to go back to the jury (committee),” he said. “We didn’t understand what happened and we have to get this cleared up for next time.”
The other IOC member from the Olympics, Dick Pound of Canada, told reporters this week, he was very “puzzled” about the result and called the refereeing “a shambles.”
“I don’t know what happened, whether they counted again, but what they should have counted is the 1-0 score and the fact that the first round he had zero points, the second round he had one point, and that he was one point ahead,” Pound said. “You put that together, that his team has judges, the ninth judge didn’t even bother looking, he’s one point ahead, maybe ‘X’ has scored them three rounds.”
The announcers though (with NBC, the broadcast partners) said “Indra Jinglong, Zou Shiming. The action is underway!” They also added that the score “in the second round was 1-1-2!”
A number of stories and video clips have emerged in which Mark Yeves, the referee, is seen wavering, but no one seemed to know why when asked by an Associated Press reporter. RIO DE JANEIRO — A countdown clock that read “ring 4 more minutes … later” was the lone reminder Saturday of the fate of a potentially pivotal moment in Olympic boxing history. Zou Shiming and Ingemar Freund went into the fifth round tied at 1 apiece with a shot at winning the gold medal on the line. But for Chinese fans, they knew that for them a win in the fourth was more important. Anything short would have meant surrendering the gold to Freund. Looking through a camera, the German threw a left hand to Zou’s chin, allowing the Chinese boxer to run in and punch past him, earning a point for knockdown.
The knockout would have made Zou the first world champion for China in any Olympic combat sport. But the referee called it off. Nothing more than a minute later, they came back on the television screen for Round 5. Undeterred, Freund still pressed Zou, this time throwing four straight hooks, and the referee called another timeout. As the clock read 3:08, there was a one-point difference and an opportunity to win. Olympic rules allow a round to go back and forth until there’s an even score. There would be no rematch and no resetting the clock. The fight would end one minute after the count of 20.
Bram Schot, who was working as a ringside camera operator, said after the bout he wanted to find the referee and explain to him how not to manage a decision. He said he spoke with the German in the dressing room afterward and he became “emotional” over the decision. He believed that made it almost an “overt act” by the referee.
This was not the first case of an Olympic referee controversy. One of the most famous was London 2012, when observers and commentators saw America’s Zou Shiming tied with Egypt’s Omar Abdelaziz in the final round of his semifinal after they had both scored just one point. The long log time for a tiebreaker gave Mouchakly the win by technical knockout.
Zou finished ninth in Rio.
Zou Shiming is Chinese, but Freund is from Germany. The two met as amateur boxers and fought in the 2004 Olympics, where Freund lost. Since then, they had not met in the professional ranks.