COMMENTARY | It was "only" the opening bout on Saturday's HBO Boxing After Dark telecast from Madison Square Garden, but it was no less of a robbery.
Mexico's Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1-1, 20 KOs) fought the fight of his young career and, in the eyes of just about everybody, had easily done enough to beat defending WBO super featherweight champ, Roman "Rocky" Martinez (26-1-2, 16 KOs).
It should've been the 25-year-old's first world title victory, but it wasn't. Instead of going back home to Tijuana with a well-earned world title, Burgos would have to settle for a draw and the vague promise of a possible rematch. A rightful 117-111 score for the Mexican, issued by judge, Waleska Roldan had been nullified by an odd 114-114 tally by John Signorile, and an obscenely bad score of 116-112 for Martinez, issued by Tony Paolillo.
The horrible decision in the Burgos-Martinez bout comes just fifteen days after Arash Usmanee lost a highly-controversial unanimous decision to Rances Barthelemy on ESPN's Friday Night Fights and about a month after Tomasz Adamek took a dubious split decision victory over apparent victor, Steve Cunningham on NBC.
Bad decisions in boxing have become a sad reality in the sport and a big reason many mainstream sports fans have placed boxing in a niche, somewhere between the WNBA and the WWE when it comes to legitimacy.
In a perfect world, a truly independent national commission would be in place to regulate the sport in all of its historically questionable areas and focus on eliminating these horrid calls and bad decision. Unfortunately, though, we don't live in a perfect world and a real commission won't be a reality anytime soon.
So, what can be done to stop, or at least limit, these high-profile blights on the sport?
With a hierarchy unwilling and/or unable to stop the injustices and a frustrated fan base, whose cries to clean up the mess always fall on deaf ears, the onus falls on the money men and TV network liaisons to flex their muscles and produce a better product for their viewers.
Actors and Athletes often have morals clauses built into their contracts in order to assure that no bad publicity will affect the companies behind their work. Scandals do affect the bottom line of a company and, therefore, producers and team owners work hard to keep any potential nastiness reigned in and within control.
A case could definitely be made that boxing's endless string of controversies and judging-related scandals have adversely affected the sport's growth and standing in the mainstream.
So, it's time for networks like HBO, Showtime, and ESPN, as well as any and all potential advertisers, to enact similar morals clauses when it comes to boxing. Flat-out robberies and hometown gift decisions would be met with canceled contracts, withheld payment, and/or contractually-mandated fines for the promoters, who currently control every aspect of the game, right down to the indirect payment of the officials.
Whether the bad judging has to do with corruption or incompetence, it has to stop. What better way to force everyone into shape than to offer up a virtual death sentence as penalty for blatantly bad calls at the highest levels of the sport?
With this new system in place, the pressure would be on boxing's power brokers to produce a fair product just like any other sport. There would have to be some discussion as to the parameters of any such morals clauses, but the difference between a close, disputable decision and a flat-out robbery is easy to recognize, even to the most casual of fight fans. For the first time, perhaps ever, it would be in the best interest of the sport to be completely on the level.
The fighters deserve this shot at fair play and the fans deserve a sport that actually conducts itself like a sport.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Source: HBO's Boxing After Dark telecast