On March 22, at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Il., hometown favorite, former super middleweight hopeful and now-middleweight Donovan “Da Bomb” George, 24-3-2 (21), easily (read: should have) outpointed journeyman David “The Destoyer” Lopez, 41-13-1 (23), in a 10-round clash. Lopez was too slow for George and only scored when his opponent stopped coming forward or decided to take some rounds off. Lopez never hurt or had George in trouble or was even impressive in the fight. And it wasn’t a real exciting fight but was clearly won by the faster and younger George. If you saw it, you knew it too.
After the final bell, the crowd rose to its feet, cheering for George and his would-be victory over Lopez - but something all too normal in the sport happened. The judges got the scores wrong and called the fight a split draw. One judge, Mauro DiFiore, had the nerve to give Lopez a three-point scoring margin over George. Judge John Epperson gave George a two-point victory and the third judge, Mike Fitzgerald, scored the bout a draw. Once the fans heard the scores and the subsequent decision, they booed heartily, even as they left the Pavilion.
On the same card, Windy City fans were also treated to an exciting fight between former world welterweight champion Kermit “The Killer” Cintron, 33-5-2 (28), and Chicago’s very own (and very talented) Adrian Granados, 11-2-2 (7), in the 10-round, welterweight co-main event. The fans obviously didn’t like the draw result but still seemed to enjoy themselves and were just plain happy to be at an ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” event in the first place.
There are people in the world with zero tolerance for nonsense and wrongdoing; others are more patient but in the end, when a person is fed up with something or someone, he goes the opposite way and usually won’t return to that person or situation. Out of 987 fans in attendance at the UIC Pavilion, we don’t know the percentage of the “zero tolerance” fans that night but you can be sure boxing lost them after those bogus scores, not to mention the fans watching the fight on ESPN2.
Why aren’t the judges held responsible for their actions? Bad scoring could come from making decisions based on emotion. Maybe they score against a fighter because of the way he looks. Maybe they don’t like the city that they were in that evening. Maybe they’re just buddy-buddy with certain promoters. Who knows? But there’s no excuse for it. Sure, it’s OK to make a mistake and not score a round right. It happens to the best of observers but to blow an entire fight? The judge’s job is to be unbiased and call a fight exactly how it happens. His job really isn’t that hard to do. Fighters sacrifice so much in and out the ring, physically and mentally. A win on ESPN2 is good for a fighter and can set him up for better paydays - and bigger networks - down the line. Fighters leave a lot in that ring and when a bogus decision is handed down, it’s tough to deal with, especially when it involves a fighter who isn’t mentally strong enough to handle bad decisions.
Consistently bad judges are simply unacceptable and should be banned from ever judging a professional fight. ESPN2’s Teddy Atlas is very vocal about sketchy judging but he can’t fight the good fight by himself. As for the boxing media, this problem needs to remain in the spotlight, forcing the commission (in any way possible through the power of words) to do its job.
Last week, an unfortunate incident involving Mike Rice, head basketball coach at Rutgers, being too abusive with his players, came to light. He was disciplined but that wasn’t good enough for the public. Once ESPN and the mainstream media got hold of video proof of the alleged abuse, they talked about the incident nonstop. Rutgers ultimately dismissed Rice as a result. Why can’t we do the same in boxing with these seemingly corrupt judges as well as the commissions, who turn a blind eye to the problem?
We need to get congress and the government involved, so we can rid boxing of this sickness. We have to work together and make some noise until we’re heard clearly. Either we take action or be silent.
And while not taking action, complaining is no different from being silent.
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