I have seen bad decisions in boxing before but the recent ‘robbery’ of Nicholas Walters in his junior lightweight fight against Jason Sosa certainly ranks among the most blatant I have ever seen. Going into the fight there was a belief that this would have been a tough fight for the undefeated Jamaican.
Walters, who lost his featherweight title on the scale in June, was moving up in weight to junior lightweight and that means that he would be facing a bigger man that he is used to fighting. He was also facing someone who had a good knock out record – 14 knockouts in his 18 fights. The last six fights Sosa fought all ended in knockouts. Hence, it was potentially a dangerous fight but the winner was guaranteed a title match against the super featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama of Japan.
In the eyes of many who watched it, including yours truly, it was not even close. The Axeman dominated the fight from the opening bell and to most objective observers, the Jamaican won every round. However, at the end of the day, one judge scored it 96-94 for Sosa while the other two scored the fight 95-95. I was shocked, stunned. I could not believe what I had just witnessed.
I wasn’t the only one. This is what the highly respected boxing writer Dan Rafael of ESPN wrote minutes after the fight. “Former featherweight titlist Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters moved up in weight to junior lightweight and put on a power-punching clinic in what appeared to be a rout of tough Jason Sosa on Saturday night on the Luis Ortiz-Bryant Jennings undercard at the Turning Stone Resort Casino.
In the end, however, the fight was shockingly scored a majority draw, with two judges, Don Ackerman and Wynn Kintz, scoring the fight 95-95, and the third judge, Tom Schreck, scoring it an even more stunning 96-94 for Sosa. ESPN.com had it 100-90 for Walters, who appeared to dominate from the opening bell and put a beating on Sosa.
“They all stink. They shouldn’t judge again,” said Carl Moretti, vice president of Top Rank, which promotes Walters and Sosa.
Harold Lederman, HBO’s unofficial judge, who was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame this week, had it 99-91 in favor of Walters.”
Having watched the fight Lederman, who Rafael referred to in his piece, when asked about who he thought won the fight, said there was no question about the winner. He argued that maybe he would give the final round to the American but there was no doubt about who the winner is. Or so he thought.
Remember all these media people, experts in the sport, also sit at ringside in positions that allow them to see clearly what goes on in the ring but even if their collective decision could be question (and I don’t think you honestly can), the numbers are there to back their claims up.
CompuBox, a computerized scoring system run by two operators, corroborated the views of the boxing writers and pundits. CompuBox has been around since the mid 1980s and gives a very accurate reflection of what occurred in the ring. According to CompuBox, Walters threw 622 punches and connected with 281 or 45 per cent of them. Sosa threw 873 and connected with 168 or 19 per cent of them. Anyway you slice it Walters connected with more than 100 more punches, was more efficient and was more dominant.
Walters was the more dominant by virtue of what you saw happening in the ring. He was walking down Sosa and hitting him at will. In the fifth round he hurt Sosa and during the fight hit him repeatedly with body shots. In fact, during the right, the broadcasters put up a graphic showing that Walters had connected with 94 body shots equally distributed to either side of Sosa’s body. It was like watching Mike ‘The Body Snatcher’ McCallum all over again.
His punches were cleaner and Sosa was always on the retreat.
Yet, with all this evidence before them, the two judges scored it a tie while the other incredulously gave the fight to Sosa.
It’s things like these why people perceive that boxing is corrupt and that many judges are in the pockets of promoters and other people seeking to manipulate results for their own benefit.
It’s fights like these that turn people off from boxing. Anyone watching this fight could clearly see who the winner was but the judges’ decision made people question what they were seeing. A friend of mine posted on Facebook following the shocking outcome saying that he wondered if his eyes were fooling him when the final decision was announced.
For integrity to return to the sport, there should be system in place for people to review the fight on tape and a determination made on the outcome; whether there is sufficient evidence to overturn the decision or go with the original decision. The outcome of this fight was a travesty and puts an undeserved blemish on the record of the talented Jamaican and I think that is a very great injustice.