In the past, I’ve referred to the fighter staredowns at weigh-ins as “a publicity-seeking ritual that has become an idiotic incendiary part of boxing.” The truth of that critique was on display yet again at the February 17th weigh-in for Vitali Klitschko vs. Dereck Chisora.
Chisora had been chosen as the challenger for Klitschko’s WBC heavyweight crown on the basis of his coming out on the short end of an atrocious decision against Robert Helenius last December.
A loss, however unfair the verdict, is not a sterling credential for a title fight. A loss to Helenius is worse. As Carlos Acevedo observes, “Helenius has just enough speed and coordination to rise from his stool before his cornerman pulls it out from under him. He’s as mobile as a stalactite and looks like he could be chased out of a bar by Chuck Wepner.”
As for Chisora, Acevedo references him as “the only passenger on his own personal Crazy Train” and “a vulgar non-sportsman with little talent and lots of mouthiness.” Acevedo then notes for the record, “Over the last couple of years, Chisora has bitten a fighter in the ring, kissed one at a weigh-in, and been found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend.”
At the weigh-in for Klitschko-Chisora, Dereck disgraced himself by slapping Vitali during the staredown. That breach of decency threatened the physical well-being of everyone within shoving distance.
Then WBC president Jose Sulaiman got into the act, announcing that the WBC would fine Chisora $50,000 and declaring, “This is definitely a lack of respect for the sport and completely unacceptable. He’s no gentleman at all, and he’s failed in what we expect of boxers.”
Sulaiman’s outrage would be more convincing were it not for his own past history. After Floyd Mayweather Jr was found criminally guilty of beating up a woman for the third time, the WBC president said that Mayweather should not be stripped of his WBC title and proclaimed, “Beating a lady is highly critical, [but] it is not a major sin or crime.”
Stung by the widespread negative reaction to his remarks, Sulaiman then issued a “clarification” which read in part, “I am a devoted husband and father of two daughters, and have three wonderful granddaughters, as well. The Virgin of Guadalupe is my superior saint. I just meant to say that I know Floyd Mayweather personally, and I know that he’s a good human being with a good heart. I just wanted Floyd to know that the WBC will always stay strongly in his corner.”
Apparently, Sulaiman believes that slapping a 6-foot-7-inch 243-pound fighter is a more egregious act than beating a women in front of her children.
As for the $50,000 fine; Sulaiman said that fifty percent of the money would go to an unnamed children’s charity in Germany and the other fifty percent to World Boxing Cares.
There’s considerable doubt as to whether the WBC has the authority to levy and collect a fine of this nature.
Also, it’s worth noting that World Boxing Cares is a boxing-related charity that does some good work but is also a de facto public relations arm of the WBC. World Boxing Cares chairperson Jill Diamond is identified on the organization’s website as a “media representative” for the World Boxing Council and chairperson of the WBC and NABF women’s divisions. Speaking on behalf of the WBC at the kick-off press conference for Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Shane Mosley last June, Ms. Diamond declared that Mayweather “bleeds green” but has “a heart of gold.”
A more appropriate punitive measure against Chisora would have been for the WBC to withdraw its recognition of him as a valid challenger and hence its sanction of Klitschko-Chisora. But that would have cost the organization a sanctioning fee.
When fight night for Klitschko vs. Chisora arrived, dressing room antics delayed Dereck’s ring entrance by twenty minutes. Once in the ring, he spat water in Wladimir Klitschko’s face.
Then, to the surprise of many, Chisora waged a credible fight.
Vitali isn’t a counter-puncher. The best way to neutralize his power is by throwing punches. Also, Klitschko likes to fight at a distance. The best way for an opponent to get inside is to punch his way in.
Chisora threw punches throughout the night, forcing Vitali out of his comfort zone. He aimed for every legal body part that he could hit. One of his blows may well have damaged Klitschko’s left shoulder, inasmuch as Vitali seldom threw his jab with authority during the latter stages of the fight. Each man showed a good chin.
“It’s never easy in a fight,” Klitschko has said.
That was particularly true this time. This observer scored the bout 116-112 in Vitali’s favor. The official judges were more pro-Klitschko, rendering a 119-109, 118-110, 118-110 verdict.
Chisora fought like a professional fighter. It’s too bad that he didn’t act like one before the bout.
It should be further noted that, at the post-fight press conference, Dereck appeared to initiate an ugly brawl with David Haye (who was shooting off his mouth in obnoxious fashion). Several people were injured in the chaos that followed. Criminal charges might be in order.
The British Board of Boxing Control has jurisdiction over Chisora. A lengthy suspension and license review in England would be appropriate.
* * *
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article for The Sweet Science entitled “Bad Judging: A Case Study”. The article referenced Ruben Garcia’s absurd 115-112 scorecard favoring Wilfredo Vazquez Jr over Nonito Donaire in San Antonio and posited, “No doubt, some people are saying today, ‘What’s the big deal? It doesn’t matter. The other two judges got it right.’ Trust me. It’s a big deal. Suppose Donaire-Vazquez had been close, with [the other two judges splitting their vote]. Garcia would have cast the deciding ballot.”
I told you so.
On Saturday night, Gabriel Campillo got robbed in Corpus Christi.
Campillo survived two first-round knockdowns at the hands of Tavoris Cloud, fought his way back into the fight, and appeared to have won the IBF 175-pound title. This writer scored the bout 114-112 in Campillo’s favor. Judge Denny Nelson had it 115-111. Joel Elizondo raised eyebrows with a 114-112 scorecard favoring Cloud.
Then came the shocker.
David Robertson scored the bout 116-110 for Cloud.
That led Showtime analyst Al Bernstein to declare, “How he could have arrived at a 116-110 scorecard is beyond my comprehension.”
Bernstein was being polite. I can think of several ways that Robertson arrived at his verdict, none of them pretty.
Elizondo’s scorecard was an embarrassment. Robertson’s was worse. Bernstein noted that, prior to Cloud-Campillo, Elizondo and Robertson had judged only one world title fight between them. Robertson shouldn’t judge another.
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at email@example.com. His most recent book (Winks and Daggers: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing) was published by the University of Arkansas Press.
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