Adonis Stevenson KO 1 Anthony Bonsante - More Bad Refereeing?

Anthony BonsanteBy James Slater: Last night, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, unbeaten super-middleweight prospect Adonis Stevenson scored a controversial 1st round stoppage of Anthony Bonsante of The Contender fame, while defending his WBC Continental Americas title.

The end came at just 46 seconds of round number one, and on paper the result looks a great one for the talented southpaw who was born in Haiti but now lives in Canada. However, as anyone who saw the fight knows (it was televised by ESPN), the call made by veteran and WBC appointed referee Gerry Bolen was a hugely debatable one.

The action unfolded like this: Stevenson caught Bonsante with a sharp, bang on target left hand to the chin with just over half-a-minute of the 1st round gone. Bonsante went down on his back, with his eyes shut. The ref began counting but upon reaching the count of six, and just as Bonsante began to get up, he waved the fight over. Justifiably incensed, seeing as HE BEAT THE COUNT, and was in no way on unsteady legs upon doing so - which is all a fighter has to do when being knocked down - Bonsante went into a rage and verbally attacked Bolen. This was clearly a case of yet more questionable and infuriating refereeing.

Bolen gave as good as he got in the shouting match with the fighter he'd just stopped, as he defended the call he'd made. Seemingly feeling his decision was the right one because Bonsante had his eyes closed for the six seconds he was down, the ref would not admit he'd blown it. But so what if a fighter has his eyes shut while he's down anyway? Yes, a ref is more than justified in calling a halt to a contest without a full count, or any count, if he feels the fallen fighter is so badly hurt he needs medical attention and is clearly gone. But was this the case here?

If it was, why did Bolen not wave the fight off while Bosante's eyes were closed, instead of doing so right at the moment the fighter began to get up? Once he'd regained his feet, Bonsante's head was clear, his balance was fine and he knew exactly where he was. There is no question in my mind the ref screwed up. No doubt he will continue to say he was doing only what he felt was right and that a fighter's health is paramount - which, of course, it is. But in the final analysis, if a fighter beats the count of ten by over three seconds, only to be ruled a beaten man without even being given a question to answer or a walk forward instruction, surely this is proof of a premature stoppage?

Bonsante will probably appeal, but as he is no big name fighter with massive clout, his case will likely be yet another injustice that gets quickly forgotten.

Article posted on 02.08.2008

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