So did Leonard Dorin just out-punch Paul Spadafora this past weekend in Pittsburgh or did 'Spaddy' box well enough and land enough body shots to unify his IBF lightweight belt with Dorin's WBA title?
Well, according to the judges, neither. As it was judged a split decision draw by the three ringside arbiters.
But there's seems to be two clear sides on just who won this lightweight unification battle. One side is adamant that Dorin was the effective aggressor and more effective puncher, while another faction feels as though Spadafora boxed his way to a victory.
And these two divergent viewpoints aren't just held by wildly partisan fans of the two fighters. There is a wide split between those who covered the fight for various media outlets. On the HBO broadcast, Harold Lederman, their 'unofficial, offical' had Dorin winning by a score of 116-112( eight round to four), while Larry Merchant, sitting about two seats from him had the fight a draw at 114-114. My colleague at MaxBoxing Doug Fischer, who watched the fight on television scored the bout 116-112 for Spadafora, while I scored the bout for Dorin with the same score. Johnnie Whitehead, who covered the bout ringside for us had the fight scored a draw.
While those of us who saw the fight as media members had contrasting views on the fight, the judges themselves were very much in line with one another. Gary Merritt had the bout scored 114-114, Pat Russell scored the bout 115-113 for Dorin and Guillermo Perez had Spadafora winning 115-113. So basically they were all within a couple rounds of each other.
But you want to hear something ironic? Perez, was basically brought in to appease Dorin's promoters, Interbox, who were adamant against the homecourt advantage that Spadafora would have in Pittsburgh. They protested loudly about the inclusion of two American judges and threatened to pull out of the bout. Perez, was a WBA judge( the organization which had Dorin as it's champion) and was the only foreign judge- and he was the only judge to have Spadafora winning.
It proves once again that judging is one of the most subjective arts in all of sports but an art where you have to be objective. As much as I rip certain judges and the way they score fights, I'd hate to be in there position. Sure, every fan has said things like, 'Kill the ump' or ' Hey, zebra, do you need glasses' but the bottom line is that they have tough jobs, jobs that I wouldn't do for a million buck( well, maybe I would, but that's beside the point). Boxing judges don't have a job that is as strenous or as physically demanding as baseball umpires or football and basketball referee's but I'd venture to say that they are under much more scrutiny in many respects.
Think about it, while there are games in the other sports where calls are dissected and then replayed about a thousand times from all sorts of angles, most games aren't decided by just one bad call. ( And this comes from a Miami Hurricane fan that was at the Fiesta Bowl this year) And the officials in other sports are often shielded by the leagues they work for when controversy hits.
In boxing when there is a call that seems dubious, not only are the master scorecard handed out to the ringside media- and of course, posted on various websites- gaining access to these judges is not that difficult at all. As long as you know Dalby Shirley from a Barbara Perez, there is really nothing holding you back from questioning their scorecards. And unlike other sports, boxing has no league edicts restricting it's participants from openly questioning the referee's and judges.
Some of the things that have been said by those on the short end of the stick in boxing would have been sure to have drawn a hefty fine in the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. I give boxing judges credit, they have a tough job to do and perhaps they don't get enough credit when it's due.
As for the three judges this past Saturday night, maybe unlike many of us who had such wide margins for one fighter or the other, maybe they had it correct all along. It was a tough, hard-fought fight, that was a close call.
So close in fact, it was a draw.
Spadafora and Dorin put on a good show, which was expected since they has such wildly contrasting styles. Spadafora, a crafty southpaw, is the consumate boxer. Dorin, on the other hand, is a diminutive fighter, that marches in like a Sherman Tank and just out-works his opponents with a high volume of punches.
So it was no surprise that we witnessed a good scrap and a difficult fight to judge.
But it's evident that neither guy is in the class of WBC champion Floyd Mayweather, who just about everyone considers the world's best 135-pounder. In short, he's too fast for Spadafora and too classy and big for Dorin. In fact, I'm not so sure that either guy beats Jose Luis Castillo, who gave 'the Pretty Boy' all he could handle in two fights last year. Spadafora, simply can't make weight anymore and it showed in his legs, it seemed he knew that he had no choice but to sit down and fight Dorin instead of boxing him from the outside with his superior reach and size. Castillo, is much bigger and stronger than Dorin and would probably walk down Spadafora.
While there could be a rematch between the two, you get the sense that if the money isn't significantly increased for both fighters the second time around( both Spadafora and Dorin each made around $400,000 for their scrap) that we may have seen the last of Spadafora as a lightweight.
I was just as aghast as Jim Lampley was when he heard his broadcast partner Emanuel Steward proclaim that middleweight prospect Jermain Taylor would be ready for the likes of Bernard Hopkins within three fights.
Taylor would improve to 16-0 with an impressive fifth round stoppage of the game Nick Cervera. He has been steadily improving and with his looks and attitude, seems to be a very promotable commodity in the future. But hold your horses, this is still a very green prospect that has yet to fight anyone with real hand speed and quickness.
Taylor, is as strong as a bull and a legitimate middleweight puncher but he still seems to have a few holes defensively. He still brings his jab back low, doesn't always keep his right hand near his cheek when sticking out that jab and sometimes pulls back out straight. He may still be very vulnerable to crafty counter-punchers.
There is no doubt that he is a bona-fide blue-chip prosect, but he's a long way from a finished product. And even a longer ways from facing a fighter the caliber of 'the Executioner'.
ONLY IN AMERICA
Don King's July 12th show at 'the Orleans' in Las Vegas is shaping up as one of the years best cards top-to-bottom.
The rematch between Ricardo Mayorga and Vernon Forrest and the grudge match between De Marcus Corley and Zab Judah headline the HBO-televised portion of the show. But on the non-televised end, Vivian Harris takes on Soulemane M'Baye and Lou Del Valle battles Manny Siaca.
It will be hard to top this fight card.
( Steve Kim, when he's not penning columns for IBOP is a featured columnist for MaxBoxing.com and can be read there on a regular basis.)