Opinion: Officials forced to give Craig McEwan the nod over Danny Perez

After their epic battle Danny Perez (center left) and Craig Mc Ewan embraced.

Friday evening at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, Sugar Ray Leonard was among the capacity crowd that witnessed what it’s like for a boxer like Danny Perez (34-8, 17 KO’s) to lose by majority decision when you were clearly the more effective boxer. All Leonard or anybody had to do was look up at the battered face of Craig McEwan. Without a doubt the visiting McEwan took more of the punishment.

Even though Scotland’s McEwan (19-0-0, 10 KOs) brought along a fair amount of supporters, including his illustrious promoter Oscar De La Hoya, many of the patrons expressed their disappointment when hearing the judges’ scores. After getting the worst of it, Craig McEwan wasdeclared the winner. Twenty-three years ago at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Leonard challenged Marvelous Marvin Hagler for his middleweight crown and Leonard

won a similar extremely controversial decision that is still argued about today. In that title fight, the boxing writers from the Associated Press, Newsday, the Chicago Sun Times and Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, plus my buddies and I all believed Leonard should not have been given that split decision victory.

The 10 round extremely close middleweight bout at Pechanga was just one more example of judges being forced to give a boxer credit for the pitter-patter punches. In Leonard’s match with Hagler, Leonard delivered rat-tat-tat punches that had the same impact as you getting hit by a marshmallow and according to the punch stats from that fight, Leonard was given credit for throwing 306 blows (softies included), while Hagler threw 291 of the more meaningful variety. The judges from that fight have stated they gave Leonard the decision because he threw more punches.

Now in the case of the McEwan/Perez skirmish we once again have to give McEwan credit for throwing more punches and credit to his jaw for being able to survive Perez’s power shots. What really saved him from being knocked out was his strong legs which gave him the ability to circle away from many of Perez’s overhand rights.

Early on, a clash of heads opened up a cut over McEwan’s right eye and he was flung to the canvass by Perez who wanted to establish early that he was the more dominant fighter. “The cut put me off,” McEwan said later, “and I hurt my ankle.”

Nearing the end of the third round McEwan began to land his light-hitting combinations first one to the side of Perez’s midsection followed by the pitter-patter punches to the head. Fighting southpaw gave him an opportunity to land these weak tap, tap punches and then circle away from any meaningful counter. McEwan darted in to let loose and then quickly pull back outside to be out of range. The tap, tap, tap routine continued round after round.

Perez regained his rhythm in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds and began landing solid right hands that had his backers envisioning a knockout. Despite the ferocity of Perez’s blows, McEwan was able to take the punishment and for the most part stayed even in each exchange. To quote a colleague: “For every howitzer (from Perez), there was a machine gun return of fire (from McEwan).”

So, for the entire bout, we had Perez slipping punches and letting the light taps land as they may. While Perez patiently waited for an opportunity to counter with the power shots, McEwan gained an advantage with the point totals. According to the boxing officiandos that I spoke to later, Perez and his corner were naive enough to think that the judges would hand him the decision based on who was hurt more. Of course McEwan incurred more punishment but the judges felt duty bound to give the decision to McEwan based on the number of scoring punches.

Judge Lou Moret scored the bout 95-95. Judges Fritz Werner and Zac Young had it 96-93 for McEwan to land him the majority decision.

The after-fight quotes from McEwan state the obvious: “I feel like crap; I let Freddy (Roach) down, my best friend. I didn’t turn up properly today. I feel disappointed in my performance. He’s a tough guy but a win is a win. I was only at the Wild Card (boxing gym) for a week. I was in Scotland for my second child.”

“I feel good. I thought I won,” said Perez who hales from nearby Carlsbad, CA. “This is boxing. I thought they could of at least given me a draw. I’m disappointed.” Perez asked me for my opinion and I told him, “I honestly don’t know, it was that close.”

Perez’s corner was a lot angrier and believed Perez had won the fight going away. TV replays of the match will probably haunt the Perez faithful. All he needed to do was match his opponent’s punch count with the same marshmallow like punches and he would have won easily. Since the current boxing matches aren’t going the full 15 rounds, they’re no longer decided by who managed to do the most damage; they’re decided by who lands the most punches.

On the undercard Charles Huerta of Paramount, CA. dropped Jonathan Arias of Mexicali, Mexico in the first round with a right to the head and left hook to the body. Arias survived until the sixth round when another big left to his midsection dropped him again. After Arias beat the count, Huerta once again charged after him and fired combinations to the head and another left hook to the body. Seeing the pained expression on Arias’ face, referee Tony Crebs stepped in to stop the bout at 1:40 of the sixth round.

“I ate late and that body shot hurt me,” Arias said later. “I thought I was going to throw up.”

Short and sweet

Just 37 seconds into the first round, welterweight Anthony Martinez of Las Vegas (4-0, 4 KO’s) scored his fourth KO in four fights with a body shot to Nick Brannies of Lakewood, CA. (1-6). Regardless of the opponent, Martinez looks mighty impressive.

Late in the first round, Largo, Florida’s Jr. middleweight Keith Thurman (13-0, 12 KO’s) knocked Stalinn Lopez (7-1) of Miami, Florida off his feet with a hard left hook. He then caught him with another powerful left at 1:17 of the second round that had Lopez stretched out on the canvass and unable to beat the 10 count.

In a super middleweight contest Cerresso Fort of Saint Paul, Minnesota (10-0, 8 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Steven Macomber (3-9-1) of Sacramento, CA. Macomber, who lasted the full four rounds, looked a lot better defensively in this fight and proved he can take the big punch.

Flint, Michigan’s Dion Savage (9-0, 5 KOs) won by unanimous decision over Washington, D.C.’s Demetrius Davis (20-23-5) in a six round super middleweight bout. As awkward as Davis’s style is, to his credit he never allowed Savage to catch him with anything flush. After landing one of his own combinations, he’d quickly get Savage in the clenches. It took awhile but Savage finally got the hang of dealing with the gangly veteran. The scorecards were all the same, 59-54 for Savage who now fights out of Las Vegas.

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