COMMISSIONER'S CORNER: On Judging Missteps, Algieri's Deep Cut, More

BY Randy Gordon ON July 22, 2014
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canelo-lara

Let's get one thing straight: The decision rendered on the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara fight was not fixed or pre-ordained, as so many of you have told me through your calls, your texts, your e-mails, your messages and your tweets.

Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara. This is the perfect example of why it's so hard, so difficult, to score a fight. Read each post here on TSS in reaction to the fight. Read 'em carefully. Some of you thought Lara won convincingly (as did I & judge Dave Moretti). Some of you thought Canelo won (as did judges Levi Martinez & Jerry Roth).

Some of you were so turned off by Lara's fight plan that you've placed him on your "Don't Watch" list, along with Richar Abril and Guillermo Rigondeaux (quite possibly the world's most-gifted boxer!).

This was a bit like Chris Algieri v Ruslan Provodnikov. A boxer/mover/elusive competitor vs the constantly coming in, power-punching foe.

Half of us saw the aggressive power-puncher winning in both fights--Provodnikov/Alvarez. Some saw the elusive boxer winning (Algieri/Lara).

That's boxing. That's why the scores of the three officials read the way they did. They weren't like that because of incompetence or dishonesty, which a few of my e-mails & texts claimed ("Well, looks like Golden Boy got to two of the judges" read one of my texts). That just wasn't the case.

At the final bell, I was thinking Lara won by split decision, but really felt it should be unanimous. I saw him land the greater frequency of shots, while Alvarez' hardest punches landed on nothing but the MGM Grand Ballroom's air. Several of his body hooks got in. Many more were blocked. Sure, Lara was landing what many of you saw as "pitty-pat" punches, but Alvarez didn't come into the ring with that swelling under his right eye.

I don't agree with the decision.

But I am not going to go crazy and holler robbery or fix.

That's boxing and that's scoring.

You want to talk about controversial endings? Try a few of these bouts:

Tyrone Everett vs. Alfredo Escalera...

Pernell Whitaker vs. Jose Luis Ramirez...

Pernell Whitaker vs. Julio Cesar Chavez...

Those were three of the biggest robberies I have seen in boxing. How about Timothy Bradley vs Manny Pacquiao I? They still haven't cleared the stench from the Las Vegas air from that one.

But that first one on my list--Everett-Escalera...that may be the WORST decision in the history of boxing. I was there that night. My card had it 12-3 for the undefeated southpaw slickster from Philadelphia. Boxing writer Jack "KO-JO" Obermayer, who has been to more boxing events than perhaps anyone else, said, "I believe I had it 12-1-2 for TE. He may have even won all 15 rounds."

You saw it your way. The judges saw it their way.

I saw it my way.

                                                                                   ***

algieri

Speaking of Chris Algieri, the red-hot Huntington, L.I. jr. welter has signed to face Manny Pacquiao on November 22 in Macau, China. Opening lines have Pacquiao an overwhelming favorite, much in the way of how heavily-favored Mike Tyson was going into his title defense against Buster Douglas in 1990. Manny is not getting and younger or any better. A prospective, mind-boggling super fight between Pacquiao and $$$May is yesterday's news and no longer a reality, no matter how much many of us still want to see it. So, now it's Pacquiao vs. Algieri. Unless I see something along the way which will change my mind, I think Algieri stands on the precipice of his second straight major upset--his first being against Ruslan Provodnikov a few months ago. A victory in Macau will unquestionably make him 2014's "Fighter of the Year." You're not gonna' buy the fight, you say? You may regret that move the next morning! I know. Most of you--I would say 95%--are reading this and saying "Commish, you're nuts to tthink Algieri even has a miniscule chance of beating Pacquiao." Algieri showed his fighting heart and courage against Provodnikov. Pacquiao is going to see nothing less.

A HUGE CUT--Cutmen are a dime a dozen, but top-notch ones are rare. Big George Mitchell, who, at 6'10" is the tallest cutman in the world, is also regarded as one of the best. He is one of the top-notch guys. Mitchell, a former NYC police officer, trained for years under one of the finest, most-respected cutmen of all time, Al Gavin. Fighters train to win championships. Trainers dream of working with and training a world champion. Managers clamor to work with a world champ. Cutmen ply their trade in the hope that one day they'll be able to work the corner of a champion. Mitchell got his dream in May, when he worked the corner of Chris Algieri, whom he had been working with for a long time. As you may recall, Algieri was dropped in the first round by a powerful left hook. When he arose from the knockdown, a puffiness was already under Algieri's eye. Later, a cut opened above the eye. Mitchell did his best to stem the flow of blood and control the swelling. It was something he needed to do from the end of the first round until the final bell. From press row, it looked as if Mitchell did a super job. His handiwork was examined by the extremely squeamish NYSAC doctors and approved. They allowed the fight to continue. Algieri showed tremendous heart by hanging in and winning a split decision. Now, as the announcement has come that Algieri has been rewarded with a fight against Manny Pacquiao for over $1 million, he has elected to let Big George go. It is not known the reason for Mitchell's dismissal. Perhaps he asked for a lot more money from Algieri. Perhaps Algieri was unhappy with the work Mitchell did in the Provodnikov fight, although we can't understand what there was to be unhappy about. In any event, Mitchell has been cut by Algieri. It's a shame, because, while Algieri and his team get to earn their greatest payday, the man so responsible for helping Algieri get there won't be there to earn his own payday. Somebody else will. It's certainly the largest cut--even larger than the one which Algieri suffered against Provodnikov and the one which Mitchell kept under control--that Big George has ever had to face.

                                                                           ***

WHO WILL REF?: As of this writing, there has been no announcement from the NYSAC who will be the officials for Saturday's WBO Middleweight Title fight between Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Geale. In recent years, the NYSAC has moved away from exclusively using New York State officials. Chairperson Melvina Lathan has been doing that for years, and now, new Executive Director David Berlin, has begun his time in office by using non-NY residents. For the Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez fight, his first major show, Berlin brought in Canadian Michael Griffin. This did not sit well with many New York State referees, who began whispering, "Why didn't Berlin use a New York State ref?" There are plenty of world-class ones to choose from. Charlie Fitch is one (although we hear he will be working on a Showtime card from the Turning Stone Casino the night before)...Ron Lipton is another. There's also Eddie Claudio. And Steve Willis. There are more. My guess is that for the two feature fights this weekend at MSG--GGG-Geale and Jennings-Perez--Berlin will select Benji Esteves and Harvey Dock. While both are residents of New Jersey, each has found a home in New York rings and each does excellent work. Hopefully, Berlin refrains from using another particular out-of-state ref, but that's an issue which will be addressed if and when Berlin gives him a call for GGG-Geale or Jennings-Perez

THE HARDER THEY FALL: Until 2011, El Paso heavyweight David Rodriguez was cruising along, slowly but surely, in his boxing career. He was 34 and unbeaten in 36 fights. He, his handlers and his fans believed he had the power and skills to win at least a portion of the heavyweight title. Then, he was slashed on the fight by a knife in a street fight. It took him two years to recover and return to the ring.

"I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Rodriguez had told me about the knife attack on my SiriusXM show last December, one week before his comeback fight against veteran Darnell Boone. The veteran brought a very opponent-like record of 24-17-3 into the fight against Rodriguez' 36-0 (34 KO's). The veteran battered and stopped Rodriguez in the sixth round.

Rodriguez licked his wounds, rested for awhile, the headed back to the gym. This past weekend, he launched yet another comeback, against another veteran. Ironically, this veteran--Raymond Ochieng--had the identical record of Rodriguez' last opponent, Darnell Boone. Their knockout totals virtually matched, too. Boone came in with 20 knockouts. Ochieng came in with 19. It was eerily similar. Perhaps it was an omen of things to come. The only thing is, Ochieng didn't stop Rodriguez in the sixth round. He stopped him midway through the first.

For David Rodriguez, his dream of winning the heavyweight title ended in the fight against Ochieng. Perhaps it ended last December, against Boone. Perhaps it ended two years earlier, when the knife slashed across Rodriguez' face. In any case, it ended.

David Rodriguez announced his retirement after the fight.

                                                                               ***

TIME FOR THE CALL: It's time to put the name Al Gavin on the ballot for selection into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Al Gavin was a cutman/cornerman/trainer par excellence who was visible in so many corners during the 70's, 80's 90's and into the new millennium. Gavin worked the corner of amateurs, pro and celebrities. He worked with the best (Lennox Lewis), the busiest (Micky Ward) and the worst (me). He treated everybody like a champ. Gavin passed away in 2009. Ralph Citro, also a great cutman, was inducted in 2001. It's time to put Al Gavin's name on the ballot and put his selection into boxing immortality in the hands of lthe Boxing Writer's Association. It really is time.

                                                                              ***

NEXT FOR MIGUEL COTTO: Winning the middleweight title from Sergio Martinez was merely another step towards Canastota for Miguel Cotto. Chances are, no matter what he does between now and his eventual induction will not affect his selection into the IBHOF. Two names being tossed around as possibly opponents for Cotto are Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. With Alvarez possibly going in the direction of James Kirkland and Julio Sr. saying his son will gladly make 160 to face Cotto, expect to see a middleweight title clash between Cotto and Chavez. Does this one head to New York or Las Vegas? I say it winds up in Cotto's adopted home of New York City.

                                                                              ***

HE'S COMING BACK: He was battered and overpowered by Miguel Cotto on June 7 at Madison Square Garden. A bum knee and a surgically-repaired shoulder left Sergio Martinez looking like anything but a champion, and he was stopped in 10 one-sided rounds. Now, only a month later comes news from Spain--Martinez' home--that the ex-middleweight king intends to fight on.

"He is 100% healthy and will resume his career with the intention of regaining the title," said Sampson Lewkowicz, Martinez' adviser.

One hundred percent healthy? How can that be? Only one month ago, Martinez looked like a cripple. He looked frail and weak and was treated as such by Cotto, who dropped him four times on the way to taking his title. How can he be 100% just a little over a month later?

"He said he feels fine," said Martinez' promoter Lou DiBella. "He'll be coming into New York for a battery of physical exams and we will take it from there. My guess is he'll be fighting in the early part of 2015 against a tough, top-15, top-20 opponent. We'll take it from there."

Martinez will be 40 in February.

                                                                              *** 

VAST IMPROVEMENT: After watching Zou Shiming thoroughly outbox veteran Luis De la Rosa on Saturday night, you can see his hard work with Freddie Roach paying off. Shiming is planting his feet a lot more when he throws his blistering combinations and his movement is much more fluid with less wasted energy. Shiming won nine of the 10 rounds against De la Rosa to go 5-0 in a fight for the vacant WBO International Flyweight Title. There will probably be one more fight for Shiming before the 33-year-old Shiming--a hero throughout China--is put into a world title fight...On the same card as Shiming, Guillermo Rigondeaux moved to 14-0 with a second-round stoppage of Thailand's Sod Kokietgym. It's too bad the fight ended the way it did, on a cheap--but legal--punch by Rigondeaux. Kokietgym had come into the fight with a 63-2-1 record, with his only two losses coming to Daniel "Ponce" De Leon, the last one in 2006...Patrick Day, the sensational middleweight prospect from Long Island, will see action this Wednesday at B. B. King's in NYC on a Lou DiBella card. Day is currently 7-0-1 with four knockouts.

A CHANGE IN THE RATINGS: With Top-10 PxP fighter GGG in action this weekend, I am wondering how he will look and if his performance will raise him, keep him the same or drop him in our PxP ratings. Guess we'll find out on Saturday. My pick is GGG by late round stoppage.

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Comment on this article

Radam G says:

No way! No how! Can or will I accept the Commish's poison. There are indeed preordained fixed fights in boxing. And the Lara-Alvarez Bout was one. And scoring ain't hard in a bout like Lara-Alvarez, Algieri-Provodnikov, Alvarez-Trout and Pacquiao-Bradley I. And if it is: Teddy Atlas already gave the answer for that one. "Teach da d@mn judges. And get rid of those who are constantly doing badly...."

There are home-cooking decisions in boxing. And the Algieri-Provodnikov was one. There are jingoistic, political, nationalistic decisions in boxing. And the Pacquiao-Bradley Bout I was one. And the Algieri-Provodnikov was another one.

The game is seedy, shady, sneaky and sleazy. And you have a lot of cliques that go alongs to get along. They stand for anything, so they fall for everything and don't make waves. And the game is so full of squirrels and weasels. WTF!

Let's call a spade a spade, and not hide in the shade. Holla!

Steve V. says:

Randy, I have been following you since the days of Ring Magazine. I still have old VHS tapes of fights that you called. I even tried to sell a boxing short story to you when you were the Ring editor. I respect your knowledge and your opinions. But . . . there's no way in heck that Chris Algieri came close to beating Provodnikov, and if he even gets one judge's vote over Pacquiao, I'll . . . well, I'll say I was wrong. Buster Douglas had evident power in his fists when going in against Tyson. Algieri punches half as hard as Little Prince George on his first birthday. Yes, Escalera "beating" Everett was all manner of ridiculous -- I have that one recorded, too; remember how "Flash" Gordon went nuclear over it? --, but to my eye, Algieri's "victory" wasn't much better. The Local Kid lucked up, and now he gets his million bucks for taking yet another thumping, one that his New York judge buddies won't be able to manipulate. Or, at least that's the way it looks from this corner. Steve V.

The Commish says:

Randy, I have been following you since the days of Ring Magazine. I still have old VHS tapes of fights that you called. I even tried to sell a boxing short story to you when you were the Ring editor. I respect your knowledge and your opinions. But . . . there's no way in heck that Chris Algieri came close to beating Provodnikov, and if he even gets one judge's vote over Pacquiao, I'll . . . well, I'll say I was wrong. Buster Douglas had evident power in his fists when going in against Tyson. Algieri punches half as hard as Little Prince George on his first birthday. Yes, Escalera "beating" Everett was all manner of ridiculous -- I have that one recorded, too; remember how "Flash" Gordon went nuclear over it? --, but to my eye, Algieri's "victory" wasn't much better. The Local Kid lucked up, and now he gets his million bucks for taking yet another thumping, one that his New York judge buddies won't be able to manipulate. Or, at least that's the way it looks from this corner. Steve V.


I hear ya' Steve. I can certainly understand how many fans thought Provodnikov won vs. Algieri. But I can also understand why so many went with Algieri. That is truly the nature of scoring a fight.

I can also understand how most of you feel Algieri was take more than his share of lumps against Pacquiao, with no apparent firepower to keep Pac-Man off of him.

We'll have to wait until November 22 to find out.

-Randy G.

Skibbz says:

I hear ya' Steve. I can certainly understand how many fans thought Provodnikov won vs. Algieri. But I can also understand why so many went with Algieri. That is truly the nature of scoring a fight.

I can also understand how most of you feel Algieri was take more than his share of lumps against Pacquiao, with no apparent firepower to keep Pac-Man off of him.

We'll have to wait until November 22 to find out.

-Randy G.


Algieri makes Lou bizarro look like a stand and trade slugger he runs so much. Even Lara would get fits after watching the Provo fight. To re use an old quote, Algieri with his not so cute pitter patter style was like a "fly buzzing around a lions mouth". He's a little top sugary for my liking outside the ring and and he puts on his marathon shoes inside. Why is he on a PPV?

thegreyman says:

I can see Algieri cocooning on the ropes after a couple of rounds, receiving hammering combinations from the little man. He'll be beaten to the punch early on, and you can't hope to simply outwork someone when that's happening to you.

Manny has had experience of countless types of opponents- Algieri's height or reach will prove no problem to him, and his long distance running tactics will be of little use to someone who can control the ring, his opponent, and distance, as well as The Congressman can.

Algieri's in for a real tough night- there will be no battling through this one. Everything Provodnikov didn't do- Manny will execute perfectly. Close down the distance, throw accurate combinations, be first and be fast, cut off the ring. It should be a walk in the park for Manny.

oubobcat says:

Algieri makes Lou bizarro look like a stand and trade slugger he runs so much. Even Lara would get fits after watching the Provo fight. To re use an old quote, Algieri with his not so cute pitter patter style was like a "fly buzzing around a lions mouth". He's a little top sugary for my liking outside the ring and and he puts on his marathon shoes inside. Why is he on a PPV?


Skibbz, I can't believe you dropped the name Lou Bizzaro. A few weeks ago I was driving through Erie, PA and came across Lou Bizzaro's Ringside Restaurant. Of course, I had to stop. Not a bad place and the restaurant was all covered with boxing posters and memorabilia.

oubobcat says:

Another great piece Commish.

I did not realize Al Gavin was not in the Hall of Fame. That certainly needs to be corrected. He was not only a great cut man but great corner man as well. Hopefully, just an oversight that will soon be rectified.

I think Top Rank is going to make Cotto-Bradley. Chavez Sr. can talk all he wants about his boy making 160 but I don't see it happening. Plus, Cotto and his team are very smart businessmen. Even if Chavez could squeeze down to 160, he'd be so much bigger than Cotto. Cotto and his team take calculated risks. A fight with Bradley and then Canelo later on would be for big money (especially Canelo) and much more winnable than entering the ring with a potentially much bigger Chavez.

As for Martinez coming back, well like most I hoped he would retire. He clearly was not anywhere near 100% for his fight with Cotto. And he wasn't 100% either for his fight the previous time out with Murray. I don't see this going well and maybe when he hits the gym will reconsider.

deepwater2 says:

Great column this week Commish.

It's nice to see Big George Mitchell mentioned. He was in my corner many times as an amateur. He brought me to spar John Duddy also. For such a big man he sure is a nice gentle guy.

If Pac can disregard CA's jab it will be an easy nights work. If he gets complacent and stays on the outside too long PAC can be in for a long night. The commish picked the upset of the year with the CA vs Ruslan P fight, can he do it again? I'm picking PAC but strange things can happen.

deepwater2 says:

Another great piece Commish.

I did not realize Al Gavin was not in the Hall of Fame. That certainly needs to be corrected. He was not only a great cut man but great corner man as well. Hopefully, just an oversight that will soon be rectified.

I think Top Rank is going to make Cotto-Bradley. Chavez Sr. can talk all he wants about his boy making 160 but I don't see it happening. Plus, Cotto and his team are very smart businessmen. Even if Chavez could squeeze down to 160, he'd be so much bigger than Cotto. Cotto and his team take calculated risks. A fight with Bradley and then Canelo later on would be for big money (especially Canelo) and much more winnable than entering the ring with a potentially much bigger Chavez.

As for Martinez coming back, well like most I hoped he would retire. He clearly was not anywhere near 100% for his fight with Cotto. And he wasn't 100% either for his fight the previous time out with Murray. I don't see this going well and maybe when he hits the gym will reconsider.


Al Gavin should definitely be in the HOF. My most prized boxing possession is my old amateur passbook with the name AL GAVIN on the cover. I have it framed. When promoter Sal Mushimesi opened The Bulldog Boxing Club Al was the head trainer there. Al was the most serious boxing trainer I ever had. He knew boxing.

brownsugar says:

Thanks for the Rodriquez saga... Its interesting how different circumstances can be so impactful in a fighters career. Darnell Boone has given several good fighters a hard time.

Chavez will get KO'd within 4 rounds if he tries to make 160 lbs against Cotto. I don't care what senior Chavez says. The kid ought to be fighting at 168 or 175.

Nice sales pitch for Algieri but I have Al vs Pac filed under the header of lowered expectations.

Finally Lara clearly did himself no favors against Canelo. He allowed the moment to slip from his grasp.

I thought Lara won handily and do not rule out external influence on the decision. but I can't prove it and neither do I care. Because I'd rather watch a fighter who has enough passion to show the audience how badly he wants to win.

Good article.

Skibbz says:

Skibbz, I can't believe you dropped the name Lou Bizzaro. A few weeks ago I was driving through Erie, PA and came across Lou Bizzaro's Ringside Restaurant. Of course, I had to stop. Not a bad place and the restaurant was all covered with boxing posters and memorabilia.


Ahh I've heard about that place, did you see the ring in which he fought Duran in there? It's supposedly 30 by 30! Maybe The Commish can get Algieri one of those next time he fights in NY.. Would love to check that place out myself, and the nosh too of course..

The Commish says:

My wife and I may be headed up there in the next couple of months. Now that I know about the place, I'll be sure to stop in.

Lou Bizzaro. He went into the fight against Duran sporting an undefeated record. In front of a hometown crowd, Bizzaro did himself proud against the vicious, 25-year-old lightweight champ before Duran's thudding shots got him out of there with seconds remaining in the 14th round.

Is Bizzaro's place a diner, bobcat? An Italian restaurant? Doesn't matter. If I'm there, I'm going!

-Randy G.

Skibbz says:

Come on commissioner, Bizarro was sprinting laps of the ring for 10 rounds!! Other than that I must admit he showed great courage in the later rounds when Duran caught up with him. I remember the shot that sent him sprawling, Bizarro was tough.

oubobcat says:

My wife and I may be headed up there in the next couple of months. Now that I know about the place, I'll be sure to stop in.

Lou Bizzaro. He went into the fight against Duran sporting an undefeated record. In front of a hometown crowd, Bizzaro did himself proud against the vicious, 25-year-old lightweight champ before Duran's thudding shots got him out of there with seconds remaining in the 14th round.

Is Bizzaro's place a diner, bobcat? An Italian restaurant? Doesn't matter. If I'm there, I'm going!

-Randy G.


Its a quaint older little place. The best way to describe it as a small Italian diner. I was with my wife and she wanted to go stop by Presque (not the Casino but the state park a few exits from the casino). Anyway, driving down to the park you pass the restaurant. I actually went passed it and turned around insisting that we stop in for lunch. We were there on a Friday afternoon and were one of two sets of customers in the place. I was able to walk around and take in all that was on display.

What I loved about it was the walls are covered with boxing pictures, posters, etc and they were all primarily from the 70's and early 80's. It was kind of like stepping back in time and taking a tour of the sport from the 70's and early 80's. Actually when you first walk in, there is a huge 80's poster of Ray Mancini that really catches the eye. As a boxing fan, I absolutely loved it and the food was not too bad either.

The Commish says:

I will tell Ray Mancini that. He will be in-studio with me & Cooney this Friday.

And Skibbz, I do recall how Bizzaro tried to turn his fight vs. Duran into the "Lou Bizzaro Invitational Track Meet." I don't blame him. He was no puncher, and certainly was not going to throw down with the ruthless young Duran.

-Randy G.

Skibbz says:

Hahahaha that made me chuckle good. I don't blame him either commissioner, it was the right tactic and it took him so close to the finish. I think he, as well as almost everyone else who fought Duran before 60 fights, believed that after 9 or 10 Duran would fade and you would have opportunities to shoot at him. Unfortunately they all found out that Roberto could punch all the way to the finish without lightening up on the power. What a fighter.

ArneK. says:

Tyrone Everett. How sad. Shot dead by his girlfriend 10 days after his last fight. Took a 36-1 record to the grave when he should have been undefeated. Everyone on press row scored the fight for Everett. The Associated Press guy had it 11-4. It wasn't surprising that the Puerto Rican judge favored his countryman, but how could the Philadelphia judge see it that way too?

The one horrible decision that sticks out in my mind was Ossie Ocasio's majority decision over Dwight Muhammad Qawi. I had the fight scored 9-1 for Qawi. My friend Herb "Herbie Hoops" Lambeck -- maybe the most knowledgeable boxing guy in Vegas back then -- scored it the same way. What makes it more incomprehensible was that the two judges that scored the fight for Ocasio were two of the best judges in the city.

I'll say this in their defense. How you see a fight depends in large part on where you are seated and the judges had a better view of the action.

That's the worst moment for a ring announcer: When he knows that the crowd will go ballistic after he finishes reading off the scores. Some in the audience act as if the ring announcer was part of the conspiracy. Been there.

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