On Saturday, June 17, Guillermo Rigondeaux defended his WBA 122-pound world title against Moises Flores in the chief undercard bout on the show headlined by the rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. Rigondeaux was credited with winning by KO 1, but there was some doubt as to whether the knockout punch was legal. Was it delivered before or after the bell ending the opening round?
This morning (Monday, June 26) the Nevada Athletic Commission formally cleared up the confusion. What had been widely rumored became official when the verdict was changed to “no-decision” (not “no-contest” as is being reported elsewhere, although now we’re splitting semantic hairs).
The brouhaha put NSAC Executive Director Bob Bennett (pictured) on the hot seat. An ex-Marine and former FBI Special Agent, Bennett, 63, was appointed to his post in April of 2014.
The referee, Vic Drakulich, told Bennett that he was uncertain if the punch was legal because he didn’t hear the bell. Following the established protocol, Bennett placed a call to the HBO trailer to try and sort things out. He spoke to a man named Rick, last name unknown, who told him that the punch was thrown before the bell.
Bennett then agreed to be interviewed on television by HBO commentator Jim Lampley who was adamant that Rigondeaux’s punch landed after the bell. That dictated a review of the tape, but that was inconclusive because it did not include the audio (something that Bennett and his cohorts on the commission say will be rectified ASAP). It wasn’t until Sunday morning, when Bennett had a chance to review the U.K. (Sky Sports) tape of the bout and get input from several other people that he became convinced that the verdict needed to be overturned. Because there was no intent on Rigondeaux’s part to commit a flagrant foul, he was not retroactively disqualified.
Interested parties were allowed to comment on the adjudication. Speaking by phone, Dino Duva, who identified himself as Guillermo Rigondeaux’s promoter, said that he was disappointed. In Duva’s view, Moises Flores exaggerated his discomfort in a failed effort to goad the officials into disqualifying his opponent (an opinion previously advanced by several members of the ringside press). Moreover, Duva said that Flores acted this way because he was following orders; his manager told him to.
“I hope that this doesn’t adversely affect Rigondeaux’s career,” said Duva, speaking in a respectful tone. He noted that the WBA may order an immediate rematch, implying that this may keep Rigondeaux from pursuing more lucrative options.
Before the meeting concluded, commissioner Skip Avensino, speaking by phone (chairman Anthony Marnell III and commissioner Staci Alonso were also absent), said that he would like Executive Director Bennett to talk about the factors that went into approving the Mayweather-McGregor fight at next month’s meeting.
This reporter attempted to get Bennett to elaborate on the factors that he weighed before deciding to green light the match, but he politely declined, saying that I would need to wait until the July meeting. As to whether he had any apprehensions, Bennett deflected the question. “I saw no reason not to approve the fight,” he said, exuding an air that said he had no worries that the spectacle would turn into a travesty, redounding to the discredit of the commission.
Photo credit: Esther Lin
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