Lawlessness in Mar de Plata and The Lifetime IBF Ban

By Paul Magno on February 25, 2019
Lawlessness in Mar de Plata and The Lifetime IBF Ban
At the “Club,” everybody knew somebody who could make problems disappear quickly.

The 40-year-old Lazarte, a former junior flyweight titlist, had a reputation as one of the dirtiest fighters in the game…

On February 10, 2012, the fix was in.

Filipino John Riel Casimero was flown over 11,000 miles and brought into Mar de Plata, Argentina to lose to Luis Lazarte.

The fall guy’s shocking upset of the hometown fighter, the subsequent riot, and the circumstances which led to the IBF banning Luis Lazarte for life were merely part of the snowball effect of a plan gone awry.

In boxing, the only thing more marketable than a hotshot prospect with world class skills is a no-hoper with a solid record and a talent for losing spectacularly. And the 22-year-old Casimero from Ormoc City in the Philippines, sporting a 15-2 record while having lost two of his last three, was being brought in to take the fall for the Argentine.

The 40-year-old Lazarte, a former junior flyweight titlist, had a reputation as one of the dirtiest fighters in the game (with five disqualifications in sixty-two pro fights at the time) and was not even a beloved figure in his native Argentina. However, Lazarte was connected and in his hometown of Mar del Plata, he was untouchable.

Sponsored by labor leader Hugo Moyano, whose power was said to exceed even that of the President’s, Lazarte headed a growing stable of fighters from blue-collar Mar del Plata. The shows put on for the amusement of Moyano were usually based out of Club Once Unidos, an all-purpose 2,300-seat arena, often filled with rowdy teamsters and personal friends of friends.

The little security in the arena was mostly for show and acted more like ushers than peacekeepers. It was the teamsters who really kept the peace, and, needless to say, it wouldn’t be a wise move for some outsider to start a disturbance at the “Club,” where everybody knew somebody who could make problems disappear quickly.

Lazarte had made the “Club” his home and was fighting his seventh consecutive bout (and ninth of his last eleven) there. Not only was the diminutive brawler in his hometown, fighting at “his” arena, but he was also an active member of the teamsters union, officially listed as a full-time street sweeper—a job he held since before turning pro.

On the night of the Lazarte-Casimero bout for the vacant IBF interim junior flyweight title, the usual crew of cussing, hard-drinking enforcers filled the ringside area.

The hometown fighter came to the ring with a look of determination. This was a big one for him and his people. At 40 years of age, there wasn’t much career ahead of him and this interim title would be his key to a few more big paydays and, likely, one more run at a world title. For his sponsors, the belt also meant a foothold of power and continued leverage in bringing a decent level of foreign fighter into Mar del Plata.

The hometown fighter came to the ring with a look of determination. This was a big one for him and his people. At 40 years of age, there wasn’t much career ahead of him and this interim title would be his key to a few more big paydays and, likely, one more run at a world title. For his sponsors, the belt also meant a foothold of power and continued leverage in bringing a decent level of foreign fighter into Mar del Plata.

Once the bell rang, though, the determined, almost heroic-looking Lazarte reverted back to form—flailing, fouling, pulling, and even twice biting Casimero on the shoulder.

The TV commentators remarked about there being so little actual boxing that it was almost impossible to score.

Casimero fouled back, almost out of necessity, and referee Eddie Claudio from New York worked to maintain order, soaked with perspiration from a bout that was becoming impossible to officiate.

It was in the sixth round, of an increasingly chaotic scene, when Lazarte signed off on the move that would earn him his lifetime IBF ban.

As a point was being deducted from him for hitting behind the head, Lazarte took out his mouthpiece and asked Claudio, loud enough to be heard on TV, “Do you want to get out of here alive?”

Claudio didn’t seem to pick up on it, or didn’t allow it to frazzle him, but the threat was there. Lazarte knew that his people were running the show. The judges, commission reps, officials—even the opponent—were mere incidentals.

Whenever outsiders walk into foreign lands in boxing, the implication is that things will run much more smoothly if the hometown fighter gets his way. In some instances, there is real, physical danger involved in the hometown hero not getting his way.

For Claudio, there was no implied threat. When things seemed to be going against the script, Lazarte flat-out told him of the danger involved in upsetting the plan.

And it was no idle threat.

After Casimero dropped Lazarte twice in the ninth, the stoppage in the following round sparked a riot that captured headlines across the globe and nearly provoked an international incident between the Philippines and Argentina.

Teamsters dressed in their green work jackets and hats stormed the ring, flinging chairs and looking to start fist fights with Casimero, his crew, IBF officials, and just about anyone else who got in the way. By the end of the melee, twisted chairs littered the beer-soaked canvas and small battles ensued at ringside while the overrun security worked to get the foreigners back into the relative safety of the dressing room.

Oddly, Lazarte approached Casimero after the fight, apologized for the incident and gave the new IBF interim champ a jersey from Argentina’s national soccer team. In his mind, the issue was dead—until he heard the press accounts and then the official decision of the IBF.

For the record, Lazarte has always denied any involvement with Moyano beyond that of a sponsor, denied knowing any of the riotous teamsters, and claimed that his statement to Claudio was merely something said in the heat of the moment.

“I’m pissed off because they’re (the IBF) picking on me. So many things happen [in boxing] and they break my balls,” Lazarte told Argentina’s Clarin newspaper. “But what can you expect from ignorant people?”

President Osvaldo Bisbal of the Federación Argentina de Boxeo (FAB) thumbed his nose at the sanctioning body’s sanction, telling the Clarin, “We laugh at the sanctions of the international organizations…They have no jurisdiction over us. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nobody to punish for what happened.”

One wonders if the IBF ban would’ve happened at all if the television cameras had not picked up Lazarte’s threat. One also wonders how many times past officials have been scared into looking the other way as Lazarte mauled hapless imports.

In previous fights, fouls have, indeed, gone uncalled and slack has been cut for the Mar del Plata native. In a high-profile title defense against Ulises Solis in 2010, the outrage caused by the foul-filled draw forced an immediate rematch. Other bouts, not on the public’s radar, were swept under the carpet, including his title-winning bout against defending champ, Carlos Tamara (also held at Club Once Unidos) where the visiting Colombian was pretty much mugged for twelve sloppy rounds en route to a split decision loss.

Another question to be asked is how the IBF got so cozy with Lazarte’s people in the first place.

Despite his ugly reputation as a true thug in the ring with only two junior flyweight bouts (against a pair of club fighters) in over three years, Lazarte, after taking on labor leader Moyano as a sponsor, suddenly found himself a top ranked junior flyweight challenger to Carlos Tamara’s title.

As things would turn out, Lazarte’s lifetime ban by the IBF would only cost him 29 months of inactivity, which, to a 40-year-old flyweight, may as well have been a career death sentence. But, still officially on the union payroll, he kept drawing a paycheck from his boxing business ties with Moyano.

Lazarte would come back in July of 2014 and rattle off three wins in eight months against club-level opposition, before, maybe in a bit of divine justice, being sent off to Chile as a fall guy to lose to 26-year-old Chilean prospect Miguel Gonzalez.

Appropriately enough, the final offensive moves in the 44-year-old’s professional career would be a pair of flagrant headbutt attempts in the closing seconds of his bout against a victory-bound Gonzalez.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

escandalo en la pelea de lazarte y casimero 2012



SONA: Pagbanta raw ni Lazarte sa referee, hinihinalang nag-udyok sa ilan niyang fans na mag-riot



LUIS LAZARTE vs JOHN REIL CASIMERO - FULL FIGHT - PELEA COMPLETA - ORIGINAL UPLOAD



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  1. Anonymous 10:11am, 03/01/2019

    This is an extremely well-written and well-researched piece. I thought I had this one down pat, but PM brings up some points I did not know about. Very good work here and surely worth of more posts than just mine.

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