Sunday, April 21, 2013

Two great fights on Saturday night, but...

As was expected and I had predicted, there were two great fights on Saturday night in both MMA and boxing, but... one was marred by a crime that took place. Once again, just when you thought it couldn't happen, the Texas Boxing Commission reared its ugly head and showed itself to be the shadiest commission in the nation.

First, let me get to the fights; in the UFC, the lightweight (155 lbs.) championship between champ Benson Henderson (19-2, 2 KO's 8 subs) and challenger Gilbert Melendez (21-3, 11 KO's 1 sub) was even closer than I had predicted it would be. I said beforehand that it was a virtual tossup, but in the end Henderson would win a unanimous decision. Well Henderson did win; only it was via split decision by only one point.

Melendez's experience and boxing ability gave Henderson problems early as the former Strikeforce champion was beating Henderson to the punch in the exchanges and was clearly the aggressor. However, the tide began to turn in the third round, where suddenly Henderson became the aggressor and more proficient with his attack of kicks and elbows instead of punches while standing.

In the end it was literally anybody's fight as I had it two rounds apiece going into the final round, which in my opinion was too close to call. Alas, Henderson got a one point victory as all three judges scored it 48-47; two obviously for the champion. Congrats to both on a fantastic title fight and an extra congratulatory wish to Henderson for a successful wedding proposal during his post fight interview in the cage.

Now onto boxing where light middleweight (154 lbs.) champions Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KO's) and Austin Trout (26-1, 14 KO's) put on just as good, and in my eyes just as close, of a fight. Not just in my eyes either as the Showtime experts calling the fight including Hall of Fame analyst Al Bernstein, Steve Farhood and current WBA World Welterweight Champion Paulie Malinaggi all had it just as close; with Farhood and Malinaggi giving the nod to Alvarez by just one point and Bernstein calling it a draw.

I personally scored it six rounds apiece with the lone difference in the outcome being a knockdown Alvarez scored over Trout in the seventh round. Ironically, a friend of mine and occasional boxing writer Nick Sanchez, whose opinion I respect very much, told me he scored it the exact same way with the knockdown being the difference. Sounds pretty close right? Well it was, but apparently the people that mattered didn't see it that way.

However, before I get into the crime that was committed, here's a quick synopsis of the fight. I had predicted Trout would win on the basis of him picking apart Alvarez over 12 rounds. It pretty much was going that way as Trout was the busier of the two, but Alvarez clearly landed the heavier and more powerful shots. Props to Alvarez for utilizing beautiful head movement and avoiding many punches throughout; he shocked me and surprised the hell out of Trout.  

That said, as great of a fight that it was, it was ruined by the three judges ringside in San Antonio, Texas who scored the fight 115-112, 116-111 and 118-109. Once again, I remind everyone that beyond me, the three Showtime ringside experts had it much closer. So you may ask, what makes those ringside experts supposedly more qualified than the judges?

Well, let's forget this fight for a moment and look at some recent history of boxing crime that has taken place in the State of Texas during professional boxing fights. In August 2009, the aforementioned Malinaggi was blatantly robbed in a decision against Texas native Juan Diaz in a nationally televised fight that even Diaz was surprised he won. Four months later, Malinaggi fought Diaz in a rematch in Chicago, Illinois and easily won a unanimous decision.

More recently, there was the light middleweight contender fight in March 2012 between Texas native James Kirkland and Chicago native Carlos Molina. In a fight Molina was clearly winning and all but had in the bag, he lost via disqualification in the 10th round when the referee showed ineptitude after a knockdown scored by Kirkland at the end of the round. Upon Molina's corner entering the ring in between rounds, the referee ruled it a disqualification.

These are just two recent examples of many over the years the Texas Boxing Commission has displayed; to say they are shady would be a compliment. They are so blatantly criminal, that the judges at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, who robbed Roy Jones, Jr. out of a gold medal against a South Korean fighter, were Supreme Court Justices next to them.

The saddest part of this whole thing is that their judging ruined what was truly a great fight. I only wish it could have occurred on a more neutral site for both fighters like Las Vegas or New York; I'd be curious to see scores for the exact same fight from either of those two state commissions. Alas, in the end we had two great fights on Saturday night, but...

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