COMMENTARY | Tragedy in a boxing ring was possibly averted last Saturday, but few in the U.S. media have cared to report on it. Blame this on the incident taking place in Mexico or blame it on the fact that it happened in a female boxing match, but whatever the case, hardly anyone knows about something that could've ended the life of a world class fighter on live TV.
Last Saturday, July 13, at the Centro de Convenciones in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, Japanese super flyweight, Riyo Togo, was allegedly found to be wearing doctored gloves prior to her bout with Mexico's Mariana Juarez.
The contest, for Togo's WBC international super flyweight female title, was a rematch of a brutal TKO 1 win for Togo to claim the vacant belt just about three months earlier in Mexico City. At the time, the brutal stoppage victory was thought to perhaps close the chapter on Juarez's status as a world class fighter and top world title contender.
The rematch, however, would reveal something that might explain the abrupt, brutal destruction of a prime fighter normally known to be a durable battler and who hadn't been stopped since 2005.
Prior to the bout, members of Team Juarez inspected Togo's gloves and found that the padding had been removed from the front part and that the fighter's knuckles and hand wraps were pressed directly against the leather of the glove. They brought this to the attention of WBC supervisor Dr. Lorenzo Soberanes , who then took action.
"Togo's team," said Dr. Soberanes, "had moved aside the padding from the front part of the glove to attain more punching force. The knuckles were protected by just the hand wrap and skin."
The gloves of both fighters were then seized and taken to the WBC's headquarters in Mexico City for examination before the sanctioning body makes an official decision as to possible punishment. Juarez would go on to win a 10-round unanimous decision to claim the WBC International belt.
Juarez would go on to win a 10-round unanimous decision to claim the WBC International belt.
"I didn't expect that," Juarez told ESTO on Thursday. "After finding out that they had seized the gloves last Saturday, it made me question whether she fought like that when she knocked me out in one round at the Arena Mexico. On that occasion, I felt that her punches were very hard and, look, I can take a punch and I've fought against some very heavy punchers.
"Before each fight, people from my camp check the wraps of my opponent. It's a regulation that a person from the opposite team can be present when a fighter's hands are being wrapped. On that occasion [The fight in Mexico City], the wraps were fine, but it didn't occur to anybody to check the gloves.
The representative of the WBC, Dr. Lorenzo Soberanes seized Togo's gloves as well as mine and gave us new ones. This time, even though she landed hard several times, it didn't hurt me like it did when she beat me that last time."
The incident in Mexico last weekend is eerily similar to the controversial 1983 Resto-Collins fight, which saw light-hitting Luis Resto bludgeon 22-year-old prospect "Irish" Billy Collins over the course of a ten round unanimous decision victory with similarly doctored gloves.
Collins, who suffered two swollen-shut eyes, a torn iris, and permanently damaged vision, would have his career ended in the scandalous fight. Resto, along with trainer Panama Lewis, would be sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and receive a lifetime ban from the sport.
Collins, despondent over the loss of his livelihood, drifted into a deep depression and then alcoholism. Less than one year after the bout with Resto, he died in a car crash that many in his own family feel was actually a suicide.
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.
Sources: Yahoo Deportes, ESTO
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