By Michael Amakor | Photos by Tom Casino/Showtime

Suitland MD, October 25, 2008 - I believe we are seeing the revival of boxing as several competitive and evenly matched fights have come to pass in rapid secession. Finally after several years in hiatus boxing seems to be crawling back into the mainstream when gauged against record pay per view numbers and a handful of well promoted fights recently, however we need to deal with the disturbing incidents of partisanship in the game today.


Sometimes, this partisanship, which I will define here as the outright, glaring, and palpable feeling of frenzied unfair support for a local fighter by fight officials, the sanctioning bodies and the unwitting but paticipating fans, is so irritating to watch you are left infuriated post fight after you witness it. Many new fans walk away with the perception that boxing matches are fixed by crooked sanctioning bodies and shady characters in smoky rooms mindlessly dedicated to protecting their fighters at all cost never really adopting the adage that no man is above the sport of boxing.

Many stateside fighters will tell you that the would rather fight at home than go to Europe particularly Germany for a title fight or any other country for that matter to avoid being robbed of victory through an ignoble decision, but I will equally balance that fear by letting you know that European fighters share that sentiment, all boxers know that the need to close the show through the finality of a knockout when fighting overseas.


This phobia of fighters seems to have dissipated over time as stakeholders have slowly come to realize that ignoble decision are bad for business as these fights become internationally televised. We have seen several fights take place internationally without incident to assuage us into believing that perhaps there is an upswing in the eradication of this phobia from the minds of pugilists. Or maybe I am just observing certain fighters like Hopkins and Roy Jones reaching for last paydays and swearing up and down about going to England to fight Calzaghe but never actually doing it to date. Calzaghe actually deserves credit for leaving his partisan enclave to do battle in the equally partisan US; luckily he won his first fight against Hopkins, but who knows what may happen against Jones - but we hope the battle of the superpowers passes without incident.

Which brings me to my observations about the very interesting fight between the defending IBF Super Middleweight Champion Lucian Bute originally from Romania but now an adopted superstar of Canada against the tenacious US based brawler Librado Andrade which took place at the Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada on October 24.

The first thing I noticed was the unbalanced selection of the judges for the event, one was from the US, the other was from Canada and the third was from Britain, but shockingly the referee was Canadian - my mind immediately wondered why the sanctioning International Boxing Federation could not have found judges and a referee from any other part of the world to oversee this title fight. The International Boxing Federation must certainly have other judges from other hemispheres on its roster, if it does not it should drop the word international from its moniker. I know there are a host of rules and traditions in place concerning officials and all that but that was my initial reaction before the fight began.

To my surprise Lucian turned the fight into a one side affair for the first ten rounds pummeling, connecting and out-landing the game but technically deficient Andrade for the first ten rounds, but Andrade already came into the fight with the above mentioned mindset of knowing that he needed a knockout to win anyway, and he tried desperately to close the show against Lucian Bute. He mounted a relentless attack against the now exhausted Bute backing and wrestling the champion into the rope desperately trying to free himself from the clinching Bute to release the final barrage of punches to finish him off. But, annoying, maddingly, the referee who as if by special instruction sought to break up the pair whenever there was a single clinch.

In the end and despite the partisan referee, Andrade through sheer desperation and a great desire to be crowned the new champion managed to successfully drop a thoroughly discombobulated Lucian to the seat of his pants only for the referee to not rush in to begin the countdown, instead and maddingly he allowed several seconds to pass as his priority changed to making sure Andrade was in the neutral corner first, before applying the long delayed count. Bute to his credit was able to beat the count and replays of that episode may later prove that he would have beaten the count if the referee had administered it immediately, but you never can tell until if the count is applied in the heat of the moment. If the referee had focused on his job he may have had to stop the fight or he should have been compelled to give Andrade the chance to finish off a champion not properly conditioned to weather a storm - myself and Andrade feel cheated at being denied a last minute victory similar to Mosley finishing off Mayorga at the 2.59 minute of the twelfth round - and that is what really makes boxing exciting, when a last minute kayo settles everything.

Tempers were already hot after the bell and the Andrade camp stormed the ring, and hustled the referee around to my delight, but luckily these post fight festivities did not degenerate to the level of the infamous Bowe vs. Golota post fight riot of 1996. Tempers cooled down quickly, Bute got to keep his title, and Andrade stated post fight he was not sure Bute would grant him a rematch - which would be a disgrace if you ask me, but that is a topic for another article. But I know that if things been allowed to play out naturally we would have had a new IBF champion - After watching this particular fight I can say that I now understand how Richard Steele could have stopped the Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor fight when he did, this fight also made me remember the partisan bad refereeing in Tyson vs. Lewis to name just one. . Post fight I also noticed the partisan reporting by certain writers who completely ignored or simply overlooked the officiating and concentrated on the local hero retaining his title to my disdain.

This partisan problem has also made me understand why MMA seems to be giving the sweet science a run for its money; apart from the bad officiating, the judging and the new scoring system in boxing today, mma unlike boxing is allowed to play itself out and in most cases the real winner emerges either by tap out or a straight bludgeoning submission victory. But in boxing, well intended safety measures are slowly killing the very essence of the sport. Fighters are allowed to dance and jab their way to twelve round decisions, when 15 round fights would have separated the men from the boys. Newly recruited fans feel cheated afterwards by a mindless points decision to a runner and they fans shake their heads in disbelief and never return to boxing. In other cases the referee steps in repeatedly during clinches just as the fight gets heated and Chris Byrd or John Ruiz ends up as the new Heavyweight champions. Sorry John and Chris you did put up a few noble efforts in an era designed for your styles.

It is time for all stakeholder in boxing to understand boxing's very essence which is about two great, brave and competitive men pummeling each other into submission in a test of wills. Another thing to remember is that when the fight is on - the blood is hot, badly intentioned blows are launched, and after the 12th it is only fair after all the blood has been spilt that the freshest less bloodied last man standing get his hands raised in victory in the end for all eternity so that everybody can walk away in peace knowing that the right decision was made. Perhaps we need to give judges the power to veto their scoring at the end of a fight when the winner is obvious to everybody. All stakeholders need to understand the importance of being impartial and Judges need to be impassive, inobtrusive and emotionally detached during these engagements by simply stopping a fight before a fatal blow is landed. In retrospect The infamous Richard Steele stoppage would have been the right decision to determine the outcome of Andrade vs Bute.


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