It won’t be of any consolation for Erislandy Lara, who will forever have at least one loss on his record, but the judges involved in his controversial majority decision loss to Paul Williams were all suspended by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board on Wednesday.
Judges Al Bennett, Hilton Whitaker and Don Givens were suspended indefinitely by the board. Unfortunately, none of this will help Lara (15-1-1), because the New Jersey board does not have the power to reverse a decision nor does it have the authority to order a rematch. Bennett scored the bout 114-114, while Whitaker (115-114) and Givens (116-114) each scored the fight in favor of Williams.
Give the NJSACB credit. Judges have been suspended before, but few can remember if all three from same bout had ever been disciplined at the same time. Sure, it's too little, too late. And nothing can be changed, but at least it means the NJSACB means business.
“This agency has placed all three judges on indefinite suspension,” NJSACB commissioner Aaron M. Davis said in a statement. “Further, all three judges will be required to undergo additional training prior to their return to professional boxing judging.”
The question is why three inexperienced judges would have been given a high profile bout in the first place. If one or even two of the judges didn't have the experience is understandable. Everyone needs to start somewhere.
But neither of the judges had long history of championship or high profile fights.
Williams’ promoter Dan Goossen said he had “no problems” with people who thought Lara won the fight. That doesn’t mean there will be a rematch. Prior to Saturday’s fight, there was talk of Williams wanting a third fight with Sergio Martinez. Saturday’s lackluster performance by Williams all but dashed any hopes of that happening.
Yahoo! Sports reported that Martinez's promoter Lou DiBella planned on writing a letter to the NJSACB, requesting that Whitaker, Givens and Bennett not judge his fight against Darren Barker on October 1 at the Boardwalk Hall.