Boxing in the Eye of the Beholder

by Damon Ealy (aka PghWindmill)

Cool Max Kellerman was way more fiery than usual after Juan Diaz’s split-decision win over Michael Katsidis on Saturday night. Glen Hamada’s 115-113 card for Katsidis had Kellerman irked, and showed in his postfight interview with Katsidis and his trainer, Brendon Smith. Kellerman didn’t hold back in a show-wrapping diatribe, either, where he acknowledged the possibility that he and Harold Lederman (who scored it 118-110 for Diaz) and the rest of the HBO team could’ve been seeing a different fight than the rest of us–but then, with an emphatic transitioning “but” and dramatic change of camera angle–went on to call Hamada’s scorecard one of the worst he’d ever seen.

Diaz’s Houston crowd appreciated it. Board posters buzzed about it. I’d even say Kellerman’s straightforwardness was Atlas-like. (Though that’s merely approaching Teddy levels; Atlas is still the ballsiest broadcaster that we see on a regular basis.) But one of the worst ever–from a guy who’s seen thousands of fights?

No way am I questioning Kellerman’s sincerity or smarts, but it came off as a little bit showy. I’m guessing he might’ve been a disappointed that the fight didn’t live up to grand expectations that we’d all–but especially HBO–put on it. And I’m thinking that if Kellerman isn’t talking on the fly, he’s remembering just a handful of very recent, very bizarre scorecards.

– Almazbek “Kid Diamond” Raiymkulov SD over Miguel Angel Huerta, June 2007
It wasn’t anything near a megafight, but it was broadcast (on Versus), and it was for a minor belt (NABF lightweight). Top Rank’s Raiymkulov took a split decision on Judges Don Ackerman’s and Frank Adams’ 114-113 scorecards. (The third judge had it 116-111.) It played like a loss for Diamond, anyway: The Kyrgyzstanian went into an apparent exile and didn’t fight for over a year until he returned against a soft opponent last June. Huerta (also an Arum fighter) has gone 3-1 since. That one loss was a UD to Raiymkulov’s September 19th opponent, Javier Jauregui, now 53-15-2.

– Joel Casamayor SD over Jose Armando Santa Cruz, November 2007

It was a top-of-the-card fight for the WBC lightweight title, so it’s the one most of us probably remember. But by following up this stinker with a dramatic win over Michael Katsidis, Casamayor might have helped us forget just how unfair a decision the judges hatched–114-113, 114-113, 113-114–and the screwing they gave Santa Cruz in a fight in which he dropped Casamayor in the first round, controlled the tempo, and dominated statistically. Santa Cruz is working his way back and fighting what the WBC is calling a title eliminator on September 20th.

– Christian Mijares SD over Jose Navarro, February 2008

While Judge Hamada’s scorecard on Saturday was, well, wrong, it can’t even be called the worst judging I’ve seen this year. The worst? Got to be Doug Tucker’s 120-108 shutout for Navarro (even the oft-derided Adalaide Byrd had it 117-111 for El Diamante that night). Tucker seems to have been exiled, too. He hasn’t judged a professional fight since.

Judge Tucker’s card took a little of the shine off of an exciting bout fought well by both fighters–and really was insulting to Mijares, who was masterful that night. Still, as with Diaz-Katsidis, all was well that ended well. I know I’m in a strong majority that thinks Juan Diaz deserved the unanimous decision, not a split decision, last Saturday night. But the right guy got the victory, and if Diaz is satisfied with that and ready to move on, I sure am.
Santa Cruz and Huerta, fighters who trained and earned a win, instead took a loss and suffered the real-world consequence of diminished marketability and smaller paydays. Diaz, split-decision winner, walks away with the IBO title and presumably moves on to bigger money and a chance to reclaim the more significant belts.

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2 responses to “Boxing in the Eye of the Beholder

  1. I didn’t see the transmission, being resident in the UK, but I did read Kellerman’s comments and felt they had a sense of self-promotion as opposed to even-handedness about them. There is a big void to fill with the ebbing influence of Larry Merchant and younger fans are looking for a credible representative in the sport – I think Kellerman is after that role.

    That said, I applaud anyone being courageous enough to back their opinion so strongly.

    Good article for balance.

  2. Pingback: Kellerman breaks from the pack « BoxingWriter.co.uk

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