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18 JUNE 2018


What Color is the Kool-Aid in Houston?

How close was Diaz-Katsidis?:
How close was Diaz-Katsidis?:

By John Lumpkin

This past Saturday night in Houston was a bit strange. In the first televised contest between Jorge Barrios and Rocky Juarez, we were left what appeared to be a come-from-behind dramatic and sensational TKO victory by Juarez. It is the kind of story that we love in boxing, but when we look at the facts, we realize things were somewhat inconsistent with that line.

The knockout overshadowed the fact the judges scoring up until that point was curious. Had Barrios been allowed to continue and actually won the 12th round of the fight, he would have lost the fight on points. He still would have lost even if he knocked Juarez down in the 12th!

It is certainly reasonable to expect that the scoring might be closer with Barrios losing two points for low blows, but it is hard to imagine Juarez winning 6 to 8 of the proceeding rounds (At the time of the stoppage, Judge Rocky Burke had it even at 94-94, Judge Ruben Carrion had Juarez up 96-92 and Judge Ruben Garcia had him ahead 95-93). Speaking of low blows, did anyone think the blows Barrios was penalized for were that flagrant? We have all seen blows much lower and more intentional escape the notice of referees. It is not that referees should ignore fouls, but rather there should be some reasonable consistency in what is called and what is penalized.

The penalties for the low blows very well may have led to the downfall of Barrios in this contest. He took the first penalty in stride, but his corner clearly showed substantial concern after the penalty and continually reminded him throughout the fight. The second penalty, however, was devastating. Barrios clearly felt compelled to make up for the loss in points and became visibly more aggressive dramatically increasing his risk of catching a shot and wearing himself out in the process. One could certainly argue that he should have maintained his composure, but one could also understand what must have been going through his mind after receiving that second penalty. He probably still would have lost the fight on the cards had he not changed tactics, but at least then his protests would have had an audience.

The second fight we were treated to was a contest between Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis. This fight went to the cards and most people were expecting a clear cut decision for Diaz. The final tally was 116-112 (Levi Martinez) and 115-113 (Gale Van Hoy) in favor of Diaz and 115-113 for Katsidis (Glen Hamada). The HBO crew labeled it as one of the worst set of scores they had ever witnessed and even suggested that as in their opinion Diaz had won so clearly, there might be some corrupting influences behind the scores. Their ability to deliver only opinion about how the fight went probably created more controversy than there was.

The fight could have been scored much closer than the HBO commentators wanted us to believe. The first round was debatable as were the final five. Diaz’s performance in rounds 2 through 7, however, were about as good as one could expect from him and by the end of 7, the announcers had all but concluded that the fight was a dominant win for Diaz. Diaz performed well in the final rounds and scoring any number of those rounds for him would have been perfectly acceptable, but there was a marked difference in the performance of the two fighters during these rounds. Katsidis was clearly having much more success going down the stretch than during the earlier portion of the fight. While Glen Hamada’s score probably represents the extreme, the other scores were not entirely off base.

It is no secret that boxing surfers from a great deal of controversy and that sometimes the scores are just plain wrong. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that we do not have consistent applicable criteria for scoring a fight. Nevertheless, while it is admirable that the HBO crew in the USA is willing to take up the cause for boxing ills, they probably should be a little more careful in choosing the fight to hold up as an example as the worst ever. The scoring was not ideal in the Diaz-Katsidis fight, but at least the right guy won the fight.

There have been plenty other decisions that have been a lot worse. Did anyone notice that in the Rocky Juarez-Jorge Barrios scorecards?
Was Barrios (right), given an even playing field in Houston?:
Was Barrios (right), given an even playing field in Houston?:

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