Jason Pribila – Ringside in Bethlehem, PA: The PBC brought their Tuesday Night Toe to Toe series back to the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, USA. The televised portion of the card featured a pair of crossroads bouts in the junior lightweight division. Edner Cherry (36-7-2, 19 KO) and Omar Douglas (17-2, 12 KO) faced off in the main event, while Frank DeAlba (22-2-2, 9KO) squared off against Ryan Kielczweski (26-3, 8 KO) in the opener.
In both bouts we saw the fighter with the better boxing skills disarm their opponents and then sting them as they were trying to figure out their next move. Each fight went the distance, and those in press row were unanimous with who they thought would get their hands raised. And then boxing fans were again reminded why they can never assume anything in this beautifully flawed sport.
On the evening after the NCAA tournament was decided by the referees rather than the players. The three boxing judges reclaimed their post as the weathermen of sports officiating. In each case we had two cards that were calculated correctly, but for the wrong fighter. And in each fight we had a card that screamed incompetence at best.
In the main event, Douglas out-boxed Cherry most of the evening. When Douglas decided to trade, Cherry let his hands go as this was his only chance to tilt the scrap in his favor. However, Cherry was never able to land a big punch and many times he ate the final punch of an exchange.
When Douglas kept his distance, he displayed a beautiful and effective boxing mix of jabbing and body punching. In the latter rounds, his jab was visibly moving Cherry, who seemed to be fighting on a pair of legs that were being disobedient.
When the final bell rang, everyone within ear shot stood to applaud Douglas for what they felt was a clear victory. Unfortunately for the Delaware native the view from the other three sides of the ring were blurred.
Ron McNair (96-94), Kevin Morgan (98-92), and Steve Weisfeld (96-94) all scored the fight in favor of Cherry. No one seemed more surprised than Cherry himself.
When the verdict was read, what was left of the crowd did not even “boo” at first. They seemed convinced that the PA announcer had read the wrong name. Post 2017-Oscars seem to have desensitized fans from reacting too quickly when a winner is announced. However, as the ring cleared, and the cameras were turned off, there was no correction to be heard. Somehow Kevin Morgan only saw 2 rounds to give to Douglas.
While Morgan owes an explanation as to what he was watching during the main event, the worst card of the evening was handed in during the Kielczweski – DeAlba opener.
In this bout, it was Kielczweski who fought well for the first two thirds of the fight, but then he seemed to behave like a fighter who thought he had the fight won. To his credit, DeAlba fought hard until the final bell. Although he came up short on my card, he definitely made it interesting on the scorecards.
The delay waiting until the commercial break had ended gave the crowd and the Kielczweski an uneasy feeling. That feeling soon turned to disgust when the official scorecards were read: 80-72, 77-75, and 77-75.
One knows that they just heard a bad score when the moans fill the arena before the winner of the fight is revealed. “80-72” was a the crime that was committed, and in this case the fighter who traveled to his opponent’s hometown (Kielczweski) was the victim.
Once again, we need to emphasize that every close fight is not a robbery. I scored the bout 77-75 for Kielczweski, and would have had no problem if the bout was scored a Draw. However, we had a scorecard handed in that that not even Team DeAlba would agree was fair.
Kielczweski was able to gain an early edge on my scorecard by using fast hands and lateral movement. DeAlba was continually forced to reset his offense, and was knocked off balance at times when his feet were not set beneath him.
Round three was fought at close range which favored DeAlba. He was able to score with his straight left, and he was successful cutting off the ring.
Kielczweski got back on his toes and started to box beautifully in rounds four, five, and six. He landed the cleaner punches, and seemed to be frustrating DeAlba who was lunging at air. Kielzweski fought like a fighter who was enjoying his profession.
DeAlba clearly won round seven. He forced his foe against the ropes, and ended combinations with crisp head shots. My first thought was that Kielczweski was taking the round off, but DeAlba repeated his success in the final round.
Two fights featured two judges’ cards that forced boxing fans to question what they just saw. The only thing that makes sense is that the judges decided to err on the side of the fighter in the blue corner. Fights that go to the distance will always be up for debate, but cards that are clearly scored before the action unfolds need to be spoken for. Alas, this is boxing, and these judges will be paid for another assignment long before the fighters who were just deflated inside the ring.
In Other Bouts:
Stephen Fulton UD Luis Rosado, Super Bantamweight
Ryan Wilczak KO2 Courtney McCleave, Super Middleweights
Tre’Sean Wiggins UD5 Naim Nelson, Super Lightweights
Hector Bayanilla MD Jordan Peters, Super Featherweights
Gregory Clark TKO4 Devin McMaster, Middleweights
Thomas Velasquez UD Wilfredo Garriga, Lightweights
Jimmy Kelleher UD Jose Valdaramma, Super Middleweights
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the BWAA. He could be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter.com @PribsBoxing.