By Zach Arnold | April 5, 2014
Three TV shows spanning two days on American cable networks featuring the heavyweights. The ultimate boom-or-bust gamble. When you get a good heavyweight fight, there’s nothing like it. When you get a lousy heavyweight fight, which is more often than not the norm, it sucks. It really sucks.
There were three shows that we watched carefully: a Golden Boy show Thursday night on Fox Sports 1 from Fantasy Springs (California), a Main Events show from Philadelphia on NBC Sports Network, and the Bellator Reno Events Center show on Spike TV. Each show represented the good, the bad, and the awful of heavyweights going the distance.
The good? Main Events had a pretty fun show with Steve Cunningham beating Amir Mansour on points after 10 rounds. Neither guy is Top 10 material, but this fight blew away anything on the Golden Boy show. The crowd was really great, too. The semi-main with Curtis Stevens pulling a miracle out of his ass in the 10th round over Tureano Johnson, regardless of the questionable stoppage, was quite the moment. Pennsylvania’s commission does a good job regulating the Main Events shows.
The bad? Cheick Kongo vs. Vitaly Minakov for Bellator’s Heavyweight title started out OK but devolved into a total lay-and-pray hang-on-for-dear-life survival fest that was neither strategic nor exciting. I’m used to Cheick Kongo zombie KOs, nut shots, and dirty clinching. But he gassed out and so did Minakov. Despite getting nut-shotted twice in the first round, Kongo didn’t take advantage of Minakov. He had a clear striking advantage in fire fights but just never chose to go that route consistently. Minakov wore him down and made him play his game. The unanimous 48-46 score from the three judges was the only acceptable result. Interesting that we haven’t had much controversy in Nevada since Keith Kizer’s exit last January. Hopefully, Bellator’s four-man heavyweight series next week delivers better than the Reno fight. The Reno crowd seemed enthusiastic to see Kongo win but he didn’t come through.
The ugly? Golden Boy’s Thursday telecast from Southern California featuring three heavyweight bouts was an absolute dog’s breakfast. Making it even worse was the quality of the regulation by the California officials & athletic inspectors.
Four fights were televised on FS1. Dominic Breazeale had an ugly unanimous decision win over Nagy Aguilera. Gerald Washington had a goofy showcase two-round win over Skipp Scott. And Luis Ortiz punished 42-year old Monte Barrett, a guy who has had one win in the last five years.
The fights were awful. And the regulators weren’t that much better. Guess who was back as a judge for a TV show in California after the Julio Cesar Chavez/Bryan Vera controversy? Marty Denkin. He sure got phased out after that decision last year.
The fight between Washington and Scott was silly season. The two big guys were pushing each other around. In round two, Washington hit Scott and staggered him. Scott took a knee. Right in front of Lou Moret. And while down on his knee, Scott got blasted by Washington. And the fight was done. Here’s the photographic proof:
This was so blatant
that lead athletic inspector Mark Relyea should have immediately re-started the match or declared it a no contest. The fact that Washington’s win stood was totally bush league. And Moret allowing Scott to get punched while taking a knee was completely preventable and just outright dangerous. It was careless & reckless.
But we’ve been down this road before with Moret. He built his political power in California due to his connections with CalPERS, the state’s retirement pension system. The guy was reportedly involved in a $48 million dollar garbage contract.
Both Relyea & Moret were also booked for the Montebello show last September where trainer Rodrigo Mosquera got caught with one of his boxers using altered gloves. The inspectors backstage didn’t catch the gloves. Relyea didn’t catch the gloves. It was Lou Moret who caught them in the ring. Two months after that incident, Andy Foster suspended Mosquera indefinitely. Mosquera proceeded to get a new license at the Golden Boy show at Fantasy Springs last December, the same day the suspension letter was made public. Mosquera would go on to work a Golden Boy event last January at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn while on suspension.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Mosquera appeared at a February 10th CSAC meeting in Los Angeles. At that meeting, Andy Foster, as noted by the state’s own meeting minutes, wanted the suspensions of both Mosquera and the boxer to end after five months. What a message to send to cheaters in California.
Fast-forward to Thursday’s Golden Boy show in Fantasy Springs. There was something noticeably wrong with the way gloves were taped on some of the fighters.
To give you a photographic example to compare/contrast, here’s a photo from a Shane Mosley fight:
Notice the tape is only on the cuff of the wrist and does not extend into the palm of the glove. The padding is even and the laces aren’t pushing or cutting into the padding of the glove. If you watched the two fights NBCSN aired of the Main Events show in Philadelphia, you saw a similar kind of tape job for the gloves. Professional and done right.
Now, take a look at some of the tape jobs that the California athletic inspectors approved at the Fantasy Springs show. This problem isn’t centered around a single fighter. This kind of piss-poor tape job was approved for all the fighters on the card.
First up, Luis Ortiz (who fought in the main event):
As one inspector stated to us, “There is no legal reason for the lace to extend beyond the gloves cuff. The only reason for taping the gloves past the cuff is to cover the lace that is in the padding.”
Here’s a close-up of Skipp Scott and his glove:
Here’s a few more examples from other fighters:
And one more shot…
So, what’s the issue here? The issue isn’t with the fighters or the managers — it’s the regulators. Because the inspectors allowed & approved such questionable tape jobs on the gloves of all the fighters, any fighter could have easily gotten away with using a skinned glove by moving the padding & lacing around with the kind of tape jobs that the regulators approved in the locker room. By allowing improper taping of all the gloves on the show, the regulators are (wittingly or unwittingly) creating a scenario of plausible deniability when it comes to knowledge of a fighter using skinned gloves because, hey, all the tapings and gloves looked the same.
After the Mosquera incident and the approval of this kind of taping at Thursday’s show, would you trust the regulators to detect skinned gloves with the padding being pushed to the wrist and the laces cutting into the padding?
In a best case scenario, it’s terribly shoddy work. In a worst case scenario, some of the fighters could have been using skinned gloves and none of the inspectors would have a clue even if the evidence was in front of their own eyes.
California deserves so much better and so do both the fighters & the fans. Every time I watch a boxing event from New Jersey or Pennsylvania compared to California, the difference in regulatory quality sticks out like a sore thumb. If Naazim Richardson, who worked as Steve Cunningham’s trainer on Friday, had been at the Golden Boy event on Thursday he would have shouted down the inspectors who allowed & approved the taping of the gloves on the fight card. Then again, he caught Antono Margarito with illegal hand-wraps in 2009 and the guy who was in the center of the mess, Che Guevara, got promoted to Chief Athletic Inspector by the politicos.