Here we go again.
Arthur Abraham is threatening to pull out of his Showtime Super Six super middleweight semifinal bout set for May 14 against Andre Ward at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Ca. if the California State Athletic commission doesn’t appoint neutral officials to the bout.
Wilfried Sauerland, Abraham's promoter claims there was a pre-existing agreement that the fight would be run by neutral officials. Instead, according to Sauerland, the California commission chose a California judge and official.
Ward is a native of Oakland, California.
Sauerland told ESPN.com: "Two months ago, everybody involved agreed that this tremendous fight would be served by neutral officials. We agreed to have one judge from California, one from Europe and one from neither Europe nor the U.S. The referee is supposed to be neither American nor European either. Unless this issue is sorted, King Arthur will not leave the country. We have put his flights on hold."
Ward’s promoter Dan Goossen, in a statement on Wednesday, denied Wilfried’s accusations.
Said Goossen: “Contrary to Wilfried Sauerland's comment in his press release of today [in which] he states, 'all of a sudden (California Commission) insists on installing a Californian judge as well as a Californian referee', Wilfried would be 100% incorrect that the commission insisted on a California referee or acted in any manner inconsistent with our agreement with Sauerland."
Exactly what was agreed upon, the California Commission has granted, one Californian judge, one German judge, one neutral territory judge, and a neutral territory referee, which the California Commission was very helpful in supporting.”
One of these days boxing will come to its senses and realize that home cooking in big fights needs to be done away with. Just ask Paulie Malignaggi.
In his first fight against Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz in Diaz’ home state of Texas. Most experts agreed the fight was poorly officiated. Referee Laurence Cole, as well as two of the three judges, was from Texas. The third judge was from nearby Oklahoma.
Diaz won by unanimous decision on all three cards (118-110, 115-113, 116-112).
In the subsequent rematch, fought in Chicago with neutral judges and officials, Malignaggi won handily on all three scorecards, 116-111.
While promoters, state athletic commissions or venues may balk at bringing in neutral judges and officials for fights, it’s the only way to ensure there won’t be any questions about the scoring.
If a fight is just poorly scored, that’s one thing. But if a fight isn’t scored or officiated properly and the judges and referees in question are from the home state of one of the fighters, that’s a problem.
It's unclear what Sauerland's complaint is since Goossen claims they have stuck to the agreement as best as possible with just one judge from California and a referee who is not from the state.
Unfortunately, it’s an issue that has plagued the sport for years. Abraham pulling out of the bout isn’t likely to happen, but bringing up the issue could force boxing officials to reevaluate things.