Do SA boxers get a low blow?

2010-04-04 12:52

ONLY three out of nine IBF fights that took place overseas in the past 14 months ended in victories for South African fighters, prompting Boxing SA to express concern about “dubious” judging.

Bad officiating marred two IBF fights involving Ali Funeka and Takalani Ndlovu last weekend though the two fighters cannot necessarily be said to have been robbed.

But in light of the result of Funeka’s first fight against Joan Guzman and Jeffrey Mathebula’s controversial loss to Celestino Caballero, BSA’s acting chief executive Loyiso Mtya says these outcomes have raised a red flag.

“It has been a concern for a long time and it was raised by Golden Gloves Promotions and later by Branco Sports Productions. The recommendation was that a BSA official be present every time a South African fights overseas. It is also the case when boxers from other countries fight here,” says Mtya.

Funeka’s first taste of “robbery” was in Canada last November when, despite fistic fundis and the international media concurring that he had won 10 of the 12 rounds against Guzman, the IBF lightweight bout was declared a draw.

Judges Alan Davis and Benoit Roussel scored the fight 114-114 draw while Funeka won it on Joseph Pasquale’s card (116-112).

Nine months earlier in Florida in the US Funeka lost a contested split decision against an over-the-limit Nate Campbell, with Deon Dwarte scoring the fight 113-113 while Roussel (112-114) and Michael Pernick (111-115) saw Campbell as the victor.

On Saturday Funeka was probably not robbed in Las Vegas. But the fight was so close that he either won or lost by one point on the judges scorecards, which was evident through Steve Weisfeld and Duane Ford’s scoring of the fight.

Weisfeld scored it for Guzman (114-113) while Ford had Funeka the winner with identical scores.

However, Robert Hoyle’s score of 116-111 in favour of Guzman raised ­eyebrows.

A report on at the time read: “That’s three fights against Funeka in 13 months. That’s two fighters who didn’t make weight against him and one of the most terrible decisions in recent memory working against him.”

Mathebula was also the victim of a hometown decision when he fought Caballero in Panama last April. Judges Hector Afu and Patricia Jarman scored the fight 112-116 for the battered then IBF junior featherweight champion Caballero.

Mathebula won by the same scoreline on Dwarte’s card.

Ndlovu lost to IBF junior featherweight titlist Steve Molitor and, ­according to The Toronto Sun, “the close fight in the ring was not scored as close on the scorecards”.

Dwarte had Molitor winning by six points (111-117), Andre Pasquier by four (112-116) and Kelly Zolnierczyk by only two (113-115).

Molitor himself graded his performance as “probably a B minus”.

Though Isaac Hlatshwayo won the IBF welterweight title against Delvin Rodriguez last August his performance only convinced two judges. Glenn Feldman gave it to ­Rodriguez (113-115) while Tony Paolillo scored it 116-112) and Isaac Tshabalala saw it as 116-113.

Even when Malcolm Klassen clearly lost his IBF junior lightweight title to Robert Guerrero in Texas last August the judging was not without question marks.

The scorecards read: 111-117 (Charles Phillips), 112-116 (Luis Rivera) and 113-116 (Tshabalala).

Though Mtya says the answer to poor judging decisions is to have BSA officials at overseas fights it appears this has not happened due to internal politics at Nasrec. Some board members are against Mtya ­accepting such invitations while chairperson Dr Peter Ngatane cannot be at other sanctioning bodies’ fights as he is a WBC representative.

Simphiwe Nongqayi managed to win his IBF junior bantamweight fight against Mexican legend Jorge Arce on points in Mexico last September. The judges’s scoring of 111-117 (Wally Snowball), 112-117 (Alfredo Polanco) and 112-116 (Robert Gonzalez) was almost identical.

But Kaizer Mabuza took matters into his own fists by knocking out Kendall Holt in the sixth round in an IBF junior welterweight eliminator last month.

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