© photo by Joe Gibbons
Over the last number of years, Mike Summers has enjoyed the opportunity to travel to far flung corners the world working as a boxing official.
Later this month, the 47-year-old St. John’s native will add another stamp to his passport when he travels to Amman, Jordan to work the Asian Continental Championships.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” says Summers, who has previously officiated at the 2005 world championships in China, the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, the 2010 South American Games in Colombia, and most recently, the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“It’s certainly a part of the world I’d probably never get to otherwise.”
But like his previous trips, a demanding event schedule will prevent him from exploring the middle east country.
“For the most part, you’re pretty busy, so you don’t get a lot of time to do a lot of ‘touristy’ stuff.”
The Asian championships will be the first international event Summers has officiated since the International Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) introduced changes to how a bout is judged and scored.
Not long after the 1988 Seoul, South Korea Summer Olympics, boxing went from a using a 20-point must paper scoring system to a computerized version. Under this scoring format, one boxer would receive 20 points, making him or her the winner of the round, while their opponent would receive less points, making them the loser.
“Now, instead of a 20-point must system, we’ll be more along the lines of pro (boxing) where the winning boxer will receive 10 points and the losing boxer of that round will receive either nine, eight or seven.
“It will still be done by a computer system so that the judges won’t have their scores in front of them for each round.”
In an effort to make for a better three-round bout, the IABA is also changing how scores are calculated. In addition to the in-ring official, there will still be five judges around the ring, but the new computer system will randomly select three of the judges, prior to the bout, to be used in determining the winner. No one, not even the judges themselves, will know whose scores counted until the end of the fight.
“Under the old scoring system, if a boxer was up by four or five points going into the third round, it was very hard (for the opponent) to get back those points. They were finding there wasn’t much action in the bouts.
“So they’re trying to get it back to the point where the boxers are in there and staying active for the full three minutes in each of the three rounds.”
Summers had a chance to test out the new system when he worked five bouts at the Ken Goff Memorial Boxing Classic in Regina, Sask., this past April. He says, “not knowing the scores between the rounds, provided more action in the later rounds.”
He has officiated two of the big three events — the Commonwealth and Pan Am Games — but the Olympics invitation hasn’t come through yet.
Last summer’s Games in London, England, he says, weren’t really a possibility for him.
“Three years prior, we were informed by the IABA that they would be taking the bulk of the referees from a new league they had started called the World Series of Boxing. I had been asked to officiate in that league, but between the months of November and March it involves you have to go away and travel quite a lot,” says Summers, a 25-year Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer with two pre-teen children at home.
“I just didn’t have the time to put into it.”
As for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, Summers is cautiously optimistic about his chances.
“Once again, it depends on how much you get out there and seen in these major competitions. It’s certainly a possibility.
“The Olympics is the pinnacle, it would be nice to do, but I know there’s a lot of pressure that comes along with it.”