By Bill Tibbs
Sean Gibbons, matchmaker for Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, and advisor to recent IBF minimum weight world title challenger Mark Anthony Barriga, (9-1, 1 KO), was reached by phone the morning after his charges recent decision loss to new champion Carlos Licona (14-0, 2 KO’s).
It was clear that Gibbons was frustrated, but more so disappointed.
Two of the best boxers, in boxing’s smallest weight division, were fighting on the Wilder-Fury undercard Saturday night in Los Angeles at The Staples Centre.
Barriga had travelled all the way from his home in the Philippines for the bout. And, while he knew he was fighting on foreign soil, it was clear that he had everything possible stacked against him heading into the fight.
While Gibbons, who has seen it all in 35+ years in boxing, acknowledges the fight was close, he is frustrated by some of the administration that took place before the first bell.
In short, Barriga and Gibbons may have been up against a several opponents come fight night.
Gibbons seemed adamant that California State Commissioner Andy Foster was not allowing for a fair and balanced process in terms of officials for the fight.
“Look”, said a clearly frustrated Gibbons, “Mark was fighting Licona who is a California resident, he is managed by Mikey Garcia and trained by his brother Robert, both prominent California boxing people, we have a Mexican referee, a California judge, and then the WBC appoints another Mexican official in Esther Lopez”, said Gibbons, “I mean, c’mon, how can any athletic commissioner look at that and say that is a fair and unbiased line up of officials. Commissions are always talking about fairness, and an even playing field, and avoiding conflicts of interest and all that, but how can you say this is even close to fair”, said a frustrated and animated Gibbons.
Gibbons was also concerned about the scoring going into the fight and his concerns were realized when the finally tally came in.
“I’m not saying it was an outright robbery”, said Gibbons, “the fight was close and I think the fight, if scored fairly, should have gone to the winner which was Barriga”, he said. “Both Hispanic judges scored it for Licona and the only judge who saw it as most people did, at 115-113 for Barriga, was neutral judge Mark Carusone”.
It was also evident that Gibbons was frustrated by the California commission’s disregard for his concerns prior to the fight.
“I tried to express my concerns to (California commissioner, Andy) Foster before the fight, I expressed the IBF’s concern’s about a fair playing field and he disregarded my concerns and our concerns over the selection of officials. Mark Anthony Barriga deserves a rematch. The IBF should order an immediate rematch and it should be on a fair and level playing field,” said Gibbons.
“This kid worked too hard to not get a fair shake in the biggest fight of his life”.