Burgos-Martinez: Here We Go Again

By Ted Sares on January 20, 2013
Burgos-Martinez: Here We Go Again
None of these people had ever judged a title fight before. (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

“I’ve seldom landed so many clean punches and he only scuffed me. How can such a thing happen? This kind of thing is ruining boxing.”—Firat Arslan

“I can’t be getting cheated like this. It’s sad, man, it’s sad. It’s nonsense. What needs to be done in boxing for this not to happen again? This isn’t a game. What else do I have to do?”—Steve Cunningham

“I came here. I thought they (the judges) were going to be honest you know. I don’t know how they are scoring. I thought I landed the harder punches. I felt I won.”—Arash Usmanee

First, Firat Arslan lost a controversial decision to Marco Huck in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany on November 3, 2012.The scorecards read 115-113, 115-113 and 117-111 in Huck’s favor but Judge Giustino Di Giovanni, who had it nine rounds to three for Huck, had to be on another planet. He should not be allowed to judge any more fights.

Steve “USS” Cunningham (25-5) then lost a hotly disputed decision to Tomasz Adamek on December 22, 2012. Adamek (48-2) received winning scores of 115-112 from Judge Debra Barnes and 116-112 from Dave Greer, while an alert Tom Miller scored it 115-113 for Cunningham. To most observers, Cunningham seemed to have beaten the favored Adamek during their 12-round rematch and was visibly devastated by the outcome.

On January 4, 2013, Arash Usmanee was on the losing end of a UD to Rances “Kid Blast” Barthelemy that still has fans buzzing over what they witnessed—not by the fight itself which was a thriller, but by the decision which enraged Teddy Atlas who said, “It may be a new year, but it’s the same old bad judging…It’s either incompetence or it’s corruption.” A badly tired and bruised up Barthelemy barely survived Usmanee’s late flurry. Atlas had the fight 117-111 for Usmanee.

Now in all fairness, I might be able to make a case for Huck, Adamek, and “Kid Blast, but what happened at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night was just plain bizarre. The Juan Carlos Burgos-Rocky Martinez fight figured to go the distance. It did not disappoint. What did disappoint was the outcome which was a split decision draw.

The 116-112 scorecard tabulated by Judge Tony Paolillo in favor of Rocky Martinez was as wrong as wrong can be. John Signorile’s 114-114 was bad enough but 116-112 was unacceptable. Burgos fought a disciplined and focused 12 rounds using laser-like body shots to affirm the tiresome metaphor that putting money in the bank early will reap dividends later. And Burgos did just that as Martinez slowed down in the late rounds allowing the Tijuana native to dictate the action and garner what should have been a dominant UD. Judge Waleska Roldan had it 117-111 for Burgos. I had it the same way and so did Harold Lederman.

The sad fact is, none of these people had ever judged a title fight before. Yes, a judge has to start somewhere, but surely the New York Commission could have included one judge with title fight experience.

Even sadder and more foreboding, however, is the fact that bad boxing decisions are fast becoming the rule rather than the exception—not only is locales with weak commissions—but even in Madison Square Garden.

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  1. the thresher 07:58am, 01/23/2013

    “Before the verdict was announced, Lederman’s scouting report described the officials collectively as ‘relatively new New York judges.’ Paolillo had worked seven world title fights compared to just two for Roldan and zero for Signorelli.
    Roldan, who scored Zab Judah’s disputed victory over Lucas Matthysse in favor of Matthysse, 114-113, was called ‘an outstanding young judge by Lederman, who added, ‘I like her a lot.
    “Lederman was vocal and adamant in his disagreement with the final verdict”

  2. Tex Hassler 04:34pm, 01/21/2013

    There are too many people filling a judge’s shoes who have little or no experience. These things should not happen. It hurts the fighters and the fans. It hurts boxing.

  3. bk don 11:13am, 01/21/2013

    I wish I had read this before I did my week that was column. I would’ve definitely referenced it. This decision was simply disgusting. Burgos clearly won this fight. Clearly! when i realized it was gong to be a split decision, when buffer read the 1st scorecard and burgos’ name, i started to get upset. I was still sure Burgos would win, but was just stunned it would be a split decision victory. When he actually got a draw i damn near went batshit crazy. he out-landed martinez in terms of jabs, powershots and punches to the body. He dictated the action and landed the cleaner punches. I’m not sure of this, but it even seemed like he threw more punches then the usually active martinez. If the WBO mandates a rematch it’s the least they could do for Burgos. That was a robbery and that’s not a word i use lightly about decisions.

  4. NYIrish 08:53am, 01/21/2013

    Same old B.S. Different night.

  5. Joe 08:28am, 01/21/2013

    This sport is simply becoming more difficult to enjoy. The decisions are so aweful it’s becoming a joke.  Burgos got jobbed big time.

  6. Burgoswon 12:18am, 01/21/2013

    None of these Judges ever worked a tile fight, but kudos to Waleska Roldan, the one and only Judge who seemed to watch the same fight I did. Burgos was cheated. You have to feel for the guy becuase you know he has worked so hard to earn this chance only to have it snatched away. I don’t know how Martinez can feel good about keeping his belt. He doesn’t deserve it.

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 01:49pm, 01/20/2013

    Plain and simple….Paolillo doesn’t score body blows….period….no other explanation. If Burgos were to deliver just one of those body shots to Paolillo’s body I bet that both his attitude and his scoring would be adjusted.

  8. Paul Magno 01:27pm, 01/20/2013

    Excellent write up, Ted…

    That decision was absolutely putrid…My question is whether there will be the same level of outrage because the victim was “just” some Mexican kid fighting in the opener of an HBO BAD card…

    I only have two words to say in terms of offering a solution: National Commission.

    This is the only reform boxing needs, but the last one that will be considered.

  9. the thresher 11:41am, 01/20/2013

    Superb judge Joe Pasquale worked the off TV preliminaries. Why didn’t Malvina Lathan use Pasquale instead of the not ready for prime time Signorile?

  10. Gordon Marino 11:23am, 01/20/2013

    On the mark Ted. It was a mind boggling decision and man I wish Martinez and Burgos would develop some defense—too much brain rattling for my tastes.

  11. David Ball 10:18am, 01/20/2013

    Blatent robbery, Burgos has to be hurting from this travesty, even Martinez knew he lost this fight. HBO must insist on better else they will lose viewers thus subscriptions. I’ll be writing HBO insisting they demand better, they should warn these promoters, venues, and Boxing Commissions they will take their shows elsewhere if this continues to happen. Viva Burgos!!

  12. Bodyshots 09:24am, 01/20/2013

    116-112 would’ve been generous but 116-112 going the other way is a pathetic example of criminal incompetence. 117-111 was only accurate. it’s become even more glaringly apparent but it’s also no wonder that for decades the unwritten rule among foreign fighters was to wiin by KO if they wanted to avoid being cheated by American scorecards. nowadays, you can’t even count on being cheated v. an American(?!). anyway, i will continue to disregard “official” scorecards as long as they continue to make a mockery of my favorite sport. 116-112 for Martinez is inexplicable.

  13. the thresher 07:47am, 01/20/2013

    The photo tells the story

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