Taking responsibility: judges from Williams vs Lara fight suspended

The local boxers and trainers I spoke with this week agreed the Erislandy Lara loss to Paul Williams on Saturday night was a travesty. After all, the CompuBox stats favored the Cuban, crediting him with landing 224 of his 530 punches (42 percent), while Williams landed just 200 punches of the 1,047 jabs he flung into the air (just 19 percent). The scores of the three judges: Donald Givens 116-114 for Williams, Hilton Whitaker Jr. 115-114 for Williams and judge Al Bennett scored the bout a draw, 114-114.


Arislandy Lara before his fight with Paul Williams.

After the bout, Lara had this huge lump on the side of head from the right hands landed by Williams.

Lara had been the one landing the more powerful shots to the head all night. Before the bell for the final round, Williams’ corner people warned their charge that he was behind. This opinion was shared by the reporters who covered the bout, all of HBO’s commentators, HBO’s unofficial judge Harold Lederman and even the pro-Williams crowd, which booed the announced decision. After the bout, Lara (now 15-1-1, 10 KOs) and his team were visibly upset and believed very strongly that the judging reflected favoritism.

On Wednesday, New Jersey commissioner Aaron M. Davis wrote to Lara’s promoter Dave Itskowitch of Golden Boy Promotions and Williams’ promoter Dan Goossen to inform them of the Commission’s decision.

Paul Williams appears to be taking dead aim on that huge lump.

“The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board was responsible for assigning all three judges who scored this contest and decided the outcome,” wrote Davis. “At the conclusion of the contest, this agency had concerns about the final scores. Due to these concerns we decided to conduct a full review of the scoring. As part of this review, the NJSACB called in all three judges to our Trenton office and conducted a full analysis of the scoring of each round.

“The review of the fight was complete and the NJSACB has not found any evidence of bias, fraud, corruption or incapacity on the part of any of the judges. However, we remain unsatisfied with the scoring of the contest even after hearing the explanations from the judges.

“The NJSACB does not have the legal authority under these circumstances to invalidate the official result. This is due to the fact that all scoring is a matter of subjective judgment. In a similar fashion we cannot mandate a rematch. However, our opinion is that a rematch may be warranted.

“This agency has placed all three judges on indefinite suspension. Further, all three judges will be required to undergo additional training prior to their return to professional boxing judging.

Lara's success on the inside with the short right crosses and the big lefts was unmistakeable.

“Any contestant who enters a ring or cage in our state deserves the best officiating that we can provide. While we do not mean to diminish Mr. Williams’ competitive spirit and exciting style, we feel that we did not provide our best officiating on July 9. Because we have a rich history of boxing and combat sports in New Jersey, we aspire to consistently improve in our officiating and strive to learn from this situation. We have no further comment on this matter at the current time.”

So now we have Lara’s people wanting a rematch, while the Goossen-Tudor side have no interest. How so? Because it’s now evident Williams has problems when facing a lefty. His two official losses came to southpaws, Carlos Quintana and Sergio Martinez plus Williams was returning to the ring after being knocked out in the second round by Martinez in November.

In December of 2009, I sat ringside for the first Williams versus Martinez fight in Atlantic City, N. J. and like so many others, I scored the bout a draw. In that fight Williams received a controversial majority decision and one of the judges, Pierre Benoist, scored the bout  119 -110 in favor of Williams. The astonished crowd seemed dumbfounded. Before long the lopsided score was being booed loudly, almost an exact repeat of the Lara situation.

Some background information about Lara: At welterweight, Lara won three consecutive national amateur championships and was the world champion in 2005. Considered the favorite to win the gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he left the Cuban amateur team on July 22, 2007 during the Pan-American games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Initially it was reported he had turned pro. However, Lara was subsequently arrested and stated he wanted to return to Cuba. Once again he escaped from Cuba via speedboat to Mexico and then signed with Arena Box-Promotion in July 2008. In 2009, Lara became the sparring partner for Ricky Hatton in his preparation for a May 2nd bout against Manny Pacquiao.


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