Boxing robberies and incompetent judging are commonplace in the sport, but this particular one has attracted national attention.
On Saturday’s PBC on FOX card in Minnesota, Gabriel Maestre ‘won’ a unanimous decision over Mykal Fox to take the WBA’s ridiculous interim world championship belt. Maestre was knocked down in round two and pretty clearly outboxed throughout the evening, but all three judges saw it for Maestre, including a truly criminal 117-110 by Gloria Martinez Rizzo. Virtually everyone watching the bout except those three judges scored it for Fox if not by a wide margin.
After much outrage over the decision itself, attention was focused in on Rizzo after boxing journalist and broadcaster Corey Erdman brought to light several racist tweets from Rizzo’s (since deleted) account. Fox, who is black, said afterward “Wow. I was never gonna win on her card.”
“We saw her score was wrong despite the unanimous decision,” Mendoza said. “Those comments she made in the past — she might be expelled by the WBA.
“I don’t support any kind of racism. I believe in equality. ... Sports are the only thing that brings equality into the world sometimes.”
Mendoza has also said he’s made the WBA interim title vacant and requested the Minnesota Boxing Commission to change the result to a no-contest — only the commission can officially change a fight result. A rematch has also been ordered between Maestre and Fox, whose team also appealed the outcome anyway.
While it’s good to see some accountability finally implemented, this shouldn’t let judges David Singh or John Mariano off the hook for their closer but still demonstrably poor scorecards.
The obvious conspiracy theory at play concerning this fight is bias and conflict of interest. Maestre is Venezuelan and Mendoza is also Venezuelan. For a few years the WBA was headquartered in Venezuela before returning to Panama. As Coppinger noted, Maestre has “a close relationship” with Mendoza, and three of his four pro fights have been for minor WBA titles. That other fight just so happened to be on an event the WBA themselves said they provided support to the promoter for. Maestre may have had an extensive amateur career but his only major medal at an Olympics or a World Championship is bronze in 2013, so a generational talent he is not.
This fight was not fishy just for poor judging, either. There was a delay to the start of the bout when Fox’s father and head trainer Troy Fox pointed out that Maestre’s gloves were taped in an illegal manner. A proper tape job was conducted but little did Fox and his team know it would get worse from there.
Perhaps part of why the WBA has acted in such an unusually swift manner is that the Association of Boxing Commissions threatened to no longer sanction them in the United States, in a letter obtained by Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole. It’s also been alleged that Mendoza manages Maestre, a claim which he has denied.
Something tells me the story won’t end here for the WBA, which even by boxing’s sanctioning body standards stands out for its seediness.