Boxing | The Most Unpopular Decisions Since 2000 (2 of 4)Written by Joseph Herron
While many ringside observers are viewing the April 14, 2012 bout between Brandon Rios and Richard Abril as one of the worst decisions in big time boxing's recent memory, this journalistic offering serves the avid boxing aficionado as a reminder that controversial decisions in boxing are as rampant as the common cold.
Sergio Martinez Majority Draw 12 Kermit Cintron
Interim WBC Junior Welterweight Championship
February 14th, 2009
Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, FL
Most ringside observers were completely blown away with the series of events that occurred during this strange 12 round contest.
Going into this match-up, Kermit Cintron (30-2, 27 KOs) had only tasted defeat twice to Antonio Margarito and was arguably one of the hardest punchers in the Welterweight division. The bout marked the Puerto Rican fighter's second contest under the tutelage of elite level trainer Ronnie Shields and his first under the Don King Promotional banner, as well as his initial stint in the competitive Junior Middleweight division.
Although Sergio Martinez (44-1-1, 24 KOs) was the red-corner fighter and the interim WBC Champ, the Argentine technician was largely unknown to American fight fans and was making his second appearance on U.S. television. "Maravilla" had appeared on HBO four months prior and looked sensational in dominating Alex Bunema, stopping the perennial contender in eight masterful rounds.
In what originally began as an awkward style match-up, the championship bout heated in the early to mid rounds with the momentum shifting to Martinez's favor. The slick southpaw began to land hard leather from mid to long range, forcing Kermit Cintron to take more chances on the inside.
While trying to work his way inside of Maravilla's defense, Martinez caught Cintron with a short, compact left hand in the closing moments of the seventh round; flooring the former IBF 140 pound champion. While referee Frank Santore Jr. began to count, Cintron took his time and remained on the canvas. After Santore seemingly counted out the title challenger, Cintron started to complain that the knock down was caused by an accidental head butt.
After the fight was believed to have been waived off by the third man in the ring, there was great confusion with both corners entering the ring. Following several minutes of great deliberation by Santore and Commission officials, the fight resumed and the official ruling was Kermit Cintron had beaten the referee's count although it appeared that the third man in the ring had called a halt to the bout after counting to ten.
The action commenced, and adding insult to injury, Santore deducted a crucial point from Sergio Martinez for excessive holding in the twelfth and final round. According to the judges' scorecards, the penalty was a deciding factor in the outcome of the contest.
Official Verdict – Tom Kaczmarek (116-110, Martinez), Ged O'Conner (113-113, even), and Peter Trematerra (113-113, even) for the official result of a majority draw.
So although Martinez seemingly stopped Cintron in the seventh round and out landed his opponent by a ratio of almost 2:1, the Argentine fighter was forced to settle for an inconclusive draw on his resume.
Felix Sturm Split Decision 12 Matthew Macklin
WBA Middleweight Championship
June 25th, 2011
Lanxess-Arena in Cologne, Germany
Upon entering the big championship bout on Felix Sturm's (35-2-1, 15 KOs) home turf, Matthew "Mack the Knife" Macklin (28-2, 19 KOs) had become a legitimate title challenger by stringing together eleven consecutive victories, despite being lightly regarded outside of the United Kingdom. The tough 29 year old pugilist had only fought abroad twice and had never competed for a major world title prior to his big title opportunity with long reigning WBA Champion and German native Felix Sturm.
After turning pro in 2001, Felix "Leonidas" Sturm won his first world title in only his 19th prizefight by defeating Hector Javier Velazco by way of split decision in 2003. Upon dropping a very controversial unanimous decision and losing his piece of the Middleweight crown to future Hall of Famer Oscar De la Hoya in 2004, the German fighter decided to fight exclusively within his home country, only competing one additional time on foreign soil in 2005.
Sturm captured the WBA Middleweight title in 2006 by avenging a previous loss to ring veteran Javier Castillejo and was successful in protecting the coveted strap eleven times going into the highly anticipated contest with the UK brawler. Although most fight scribes criticized the German fighter for not defending his title overseas against higher ranked competition, Sturm was the longest reigning Middleweight Champ heading into his defense against Macklin and was favored to retain the championship belt.
When the initial bell sounded, no one viewing this bout realized Sturm would finally get to exercise his own "home court advantage" in the ring and experience the benefit of an ostensible home town decision.
The title contest began with Macklin trudging forward and throwing effective combinations to the body and head of the defending champ while pushing him around the ring. The title challenger was ferocious to begin the fight and relentlessly fought Sturm in a phone booth throughout the bout's entirety.
Round after round, the two combatants were literally "toe to toe" with Macklin outworking and out landing the defending champion throughout the majority of the fight. The German press were even having a hard time finding rounds to score for the home town fighter, claiming that Macklin was doing the more effective work on the inside. Although Sturm had his moments during the 12 round battle, it was Macklin who was leaving a lasting impression on the ringside media and the casual observers at home.
When the final bell rang, most fight scribes scoring the bout were fairly confident that Macklin had just become the new WBA Middleweight Champion...most were dead wrong.
Official Verdict: Levi Martinez (115-113, Macklin), Roberto Ramirez Sr. (116-112, Sturm), and Jose Ignacio Martinez (116-112, Sturm) in favor of the winner and still WBA Middleweight Champion Felix Sturm.
So although Macklin doubled the defending champion's output throughout the fight and landed 127 more total punches, two of the judges at ringside scored the entertaining bout 8 rounds to 4 in favor of Felix Sturm. After the fight, the reigning title holder promised Macklin a return bout...Macklin still awaits the rematch to this day.
Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov Split Decision 12 Miguel Angel Huerta
NABF Lightweight title
June 14th, 2007
Main Street Armory, Rochester, New York
Coming into this "Versus" televised bout, which is now the NBC Sports Network, "Kid Diamond" (24-1-1, 14 KOs) was a highly touted prospect whose only blemishes had been a knock-out loss to Nate Campbell and a draw with Joel Casamayor, both in 2005.
The former 2000 Olympian had put together a streak of four consecutive victories since getting stopped by the Galaxxy Warrior and was trying to climb his way back up the Lightweight ladder. Unfortunately, the fighter from Kyrgyzstan was about to take on a powerful southpaw with just three weeks notice.
Miguel Huerta (24-7-1, 17 KOs) from Mexico City, Mexico, was known for the power of his big left hook by those who had met him in the ring prior to his engagement with Kid Diamond. The 29 year old fighter entered the ring as the blue corner substitute and was expected to be a trajectory opponent for the TOP RANK prospect. Huerta's advantage was the size of the ring, which was very small to most fighters' standards and ultimately favored the big punching Mexican.
To begin the contest, Huerta met Raiymkulov in the center of the ring and both men immediately started to exchange blows. To most in attendance and those watching at home, it was obvious from the outset that "Kid Diamond" was having a hard time seeing the left hand come out of the southpaw stance. Huerta's left hand bombs were landing effectively and causing the favored fighter many problems in the small ring.
Through the first four rounds, Raiymkulov was throwing a higher volume of punches but was landing less than his opponent. Also, Huerta was connecting at a much higher percentage and seemed to land the harder more effective shots. Most ringside observers, including the late Nick Charles, had the Mexican fighter up four rounds to none.
In the middle rounds, "Kid Diamond" began to work more effectively and the left eye of Huerta began to swell, but the blue corner opponent continued to land the harder and cleaner shots. Unfortunately for Huerta, his face told a different story. He had a bloody nose, a swollen left eye, and a cut at the hairline. This could have been a factor which influenced the judges' decision.
Going into the final two rounds, Huerta was still landing hard left hands to the face of Kid Diamond and floored the former Olympian in the eleventh round. Although Raiymkulov beat the referee's count, it was obvious to most who viewed the entertaining bout that Diamond's nose was broken as a result of the hard left hand.
Huerta finished the twelve round contest strong and seemingly won the fight, leading comfortably on the "Versus" televised scorecard.
Official Verdict: Ruben Garcia (116-111, Huerta), Don Ackerman (114-113, Raiymkulov), and Frank Adams (114-113, Raiymkulov) in favor of the winner and still NABF Lightweight title holder Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov.
After the bout, "Versus" commentators Nick Charles and Wally Matthews called it "one of the worst decisions" they had ever seen. "Versus" online scorers had Huerta winning the fight 115-110. Although Diamond had thrown over 200 more punches than the Mexican fighter, Huerta had landed just as many shots connecting at a more accurate rate of 42%.
Lamon Brewster Split Decision 12 Kali Meehan
WBO Heavyweight Championship
September 4th, 2004
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, NV
Just five months prior to this Showtime televised contest, Lamon Brewster (30-2, 27 KOs) had pulled off one of the more improbable upsets in recent memory by defeating the heavily favored Wladimir Klitschko with a dramatic and somewhat controversial knock-out.
After the devastating loss to Brewster, the Klitschko camp had publicly stated Wladimir had been poisoned before or during the fight and raised speculation of foul play. While no one accused the newly crowned WBO champion of cheating or unsportsmanlike conduct, Lamon entered his bout with Kali Meehan with a chip on his shoulder and much to prove to the boxing public.
Twelve months before landing the big championship bout with his friend and occasional sparring partner, Kali Meehan (29-1, 24 KOs) was an early morning garbage collector and semi-pro rugby player. The big punching Aussie never thought he would ever make it to the biggest stage of boxing and contemplated retirement from the sport.
So when Meehan was given the opportunity to fight for a portion of the biggest title in professional sports, the 6'5" fighter from down under was fully prepared to leave everything he had inside the squared circle. Little did Kali know that his greatest performance as a prizefighter wouldn't be enough to take the title away from the defending champion on September 4th, 2004.
To begin the scheduled 12 round fight, both men began tentatively with Kali Meehan controlling the opening round with his long rangy jab. Occasionally Lamon would burst with an explosive and effective combination. But between the offensive spurts, the defending champion wasn't very active and seemed to allow the challenger to dictate the pace of the fight with his jab and straight right hand.
The battle started to heat up in the middle rounds with Meehan throwing and landing more punches. He would land the overhand right while continuing to work effectively behind the jab at a safe and comfortable distance.
To begin the sixth round, Meehan hurt Brewster with a hard right hand that sent him falling against the ropes. The tall Aussie fighter jumped on Lamon and began to punish the defending champion with combinations to the body and head. Although Meehan controlled the round, Lamon ended strong with a hard flurry in the closing seconds.
In the epic eighth round, Meehan once again hurt Brewster with a chopping right hand and staggered him into the corner. This time the champ was in real trouble. Throughout the entire round, Lamon had his back against the ropes and seemed to be in survival mode while the challenger wailed away with hard lefts and rights.
Meehan was ostensibly in control of the fight and on the verge of winning the WBO title. He commanded the bout from the outside and seemed to get the better of most of the exchanges on the inside. He continuously landed hard right hands that had a damaging effect. Again Lamon would have the occasional burst, but was primarily absent offensively.
When the final bell sounded, most fight scribes were convinced that Brewster had lost the belt as quickly as he had won his first world title.
Official Verdict: Adalaide Byrd (114-113, Meehan), Dave Moretti (114-113, Brewster), and Nelson Vazquez (115-113, Brewster) in favor of the winner and still WBO Heavyweight Champion "Relentless" Lamon Brewster.
After the controversial verdict, the always classy Lamon Brewster admitted that he was legitimately hurt in the dramatic eighth round and eventually discovered that he finished the bout with a broken jaw.