Big Bob Mladinich beat me to the punch in securing an interview with Massachusetts judge Dick Flaherty, one of the two arbiters who saw Samuel Peter winning nine rounds to James Toney's three on Saturday night.
Big Bob is truly a consummate gentleman, not as prone to argument as I, so perhaps it is best that I didn't get the chance to quiz Flaherty on his reasoning for choosing Peter by such a wide margin.
Do you give credit for ring generalship, for defensive adeptness, I would have asked, and perhaps my tone would have betrayed my skepticism. After all, these are men's careers and massive earnings power at stake here. The stakes are huge and we must ensure that the judges who are in charge of such high stakes decisions are up to the task…
Flaherty and I have a history, not that I believe he'd recall it. My own memory is impacted by time and collegiate habits, I must admit…
I know the show was in Massachusetts, and I know one of the out-of-towners brought in to lose handled one of the guys that was supposed to win.
I believe it was in Whitman, on a Vinnie Vecchione/KO1 special.
I think it was 1996.
I think it was Ed McAloney. The hard luck guy might have been Alex Ortiz, or Santiago Coriano.
Or maybe it was Robbie Sanchez, and the giftee was Kevin Watts.
Flaherty, one of the judges, awarded the more aggressive, but less effective boxer, and spurned the more subtle display of pugilism offered by the underdog.
He was one of three who didn't give the designated loser a deserved win and I asked him about it afterwards. In a semi heated fashion, I will admit, being a fan of fairness and all.
He barked back at me in defense of his card. We locked eyes and glared. It wasn’t a tender moment. I always kept that incident in the back of my mind.
So I read Big Bob's interview with Dick, and I wasn't enthralled with Flaherty's take. I thought he lacked humility and his defense did nothing, absolutely nothing, to make me see things his way.
“No one within the commission was critical of my score,” said Flaherty. “The fact is, I think my reputation speaks for itself. I always give 110 percent. My eyes and mind are totally focused on what’s going on in the ring.”
Just because no one was critical of the score to your face, Dick, the fact that 28 of 29 media members surveyed by Dan Goossen's people saw the fight for Toney doesn't give you a moment's pause? Well, it should.
“You can’t get nervous and you can’t second guess or be influenced by others,” said Flaherty to Big Bob. “You have to have faith in your own abilities. Having done this for so long, I have tremendous faith in my ability to officiate fairly and objectively.”
Glad you do, Dick. I don't, to be succinct. And just because someone has done something for a long time, that doesn't in fact prove his or her competence. I resist the urge to make a political jab at this point…
“In my opinion Toney was out-hustled by Peter,” he said. “Toney took rounds off and Peter, to his credit, outworked him. He was forcing the action and actually out-jabbing Toney, which is not easy to do.”
Really, Dick? I wouldn't agree with that. Peter's nose told the tale in that regard.
I'm still waiting for CompuBox numbers on this one, but I'd be soooo surprised if stats bore you out on this assertion…
And is “hustle” your top ingredient in judging a fight? Who “hustles” more determines who gets the decision? What about skill, Dick? Because Peter “forced the action” he deserved to win 9 of 12 rounds?
I talked to Bert Sugar on Wednesday and he agreed that Flaherty's card was off, way off.
“Why don't we just throw the subtleties and just reward aggressiveness, judge it like a Toughman Contest?” Sugar said.
Boxing fans jump off the bandwagon with every bad decision, so we have to do what we can to minimize them. A closer margin of victory would have lessened the leeriness towards the two 116-111 cards. But saying Toney won only three rounds? That's hard to stomach for everyone I've talked to not associated with Peter's team.
I suggest you get a tape of that fight, Dick Flaherty, and score the bout again.
Because men's lives, and careers are at stake, and it's the right thing to do.
Slowest Saturday we’ve had in recent memory, eh? Ollie McCall is the biggest name in action on our shores. Saw a recent story in a paper that trumpeted McCall as having beaten his demons. Those McCall demons are a hearty, make that party hearty, breed, so I wouldn’t have been so quick to judge him as rehabilitated if I were the headline writer…
–You all looking forward to the mega OLN card next Thursday as much as I am? What’s that? You didn’t know that Kid Diamond was featured on an OLN card next week? Ouch… Got to say, that series, featuring subpar main events and taped megabouts that we’ve all seen umpteen times, must be classified as a major disappointment. It reads now like Arum is misusing the opportunity massively.
–Joe Mesi tries to make it four in a row in his comeback streak on Sept. 15. He’ll work over 36-year-old Jason Weiss (3-1) in Michigan. Hey, Jacko, for 20 Gs I’ll take the whacks.