The “Marketplace Decision”: How “Homecooking” Tarnishes Boxing

Juan DiazBy Neil Dennis - Last night’s Juan Diaz-Paulie Malignaggi fight served as great reminder as to why there are plenty of people out there turned off by “The Sweet Science”. The sad thing isn’t even an isolated incident this year.

Even if you only think of televised fights, you need only rewind to June when a controversial split decision favored Miguel Cotto over Joshua Clottey to know that. In that fight, Cotto unraveled in the middle rounds to lose what looked like a close decision for Clottey. Instead, the decision went to fighter the crowd wanted to win. It was, to use Max Keller man’s chilling words, a “marketplace decision”.

Sad, for now we have another fight that seemed to be given to the wrong fighter once again. And with scores that seem even more egregious than the ones in the Cotto-Clottey fight, we are being allowed to see after two years of solid fights, everything non-boxing fans complain about when the topic of the fight game seemed to be on full display. Boxing is corrupt. Boxing is rigged. “Boxing,” as to quote Paulie after the fight, “is bullshit.”

In his previous losses, the man seemed a tad whiny about what went down. This was certainly the case in the Hatton fight, where his then-trainer Buddy McGirt stopped the fight in round 11 after Paulie’s head spent ten rounds as a pinball between The Hitman’s gloves. In this fight however, his anger seemed every bit justified. As a viewer, it made you want to slap Kellerman in the head every time he tried to dismiss Malignaggi’s comments and pull the microphone away. Malignaggi had every right to vent. It was as if it was all negative, as he thanked the hostile Houston fans and called Juan Diaz “a warrior” for staying with him until the end. He also seemed to take solace that HBO’s unofficial judge Harold Lederman had him winning 115-113, a score which seemed very much on the money in this fight.

Justly, the real scores were comical even to most of the HBO commentators. Bob Papa and Lennox Lewis both seemed to make the case you could argue 115-113 Diaz score posted by Raul Caiz, Sr., but could not believe the 118-110 score from Gale Van Hoy or the even the 116-112 score from David Sutherland. In truth, they had a point. From the time of the second Diaz cut , “The Baby Bull” seemed to follow the same path of falling apart once the bleeding got bad. It was a bit of irony that Diaz said in the post-fight interview, “This is all my critics who said I couldn’t fight cut”. Only Malignaggi’s total lack of knockout power combined with a surprise Diaz rally in round 12 made this even 115-113 score Diaz plausible. Malignaggi boxed circles around Diaz, and this writer was rooting for Diaz to win. I saw it as Lederman saw it, and I thought it could even go heavier toward Malignaggi as there were a couple of close rounds in the middle of the fight that really could have gone either way.

It was amazing how the fans in the Toyota Center blindly cheered this decision and booed Malignaggi so vehemently. This was the kind of thing one would expect in some small club fight in the middle of nowhere, not a main event fight being broadcast by “The Home of Champions”. With all the other mess that has reared its ugly head in boxing over 2009, fight fans did not deserve this. The winner of this fight lost, and somehow we’re all supposed to stomach that even the commentators all but said was wrong.

It is deeply troubling that this fight went down as it did. In the last couple years, boxing has seen a bit of a comeback as fans were treated to action-packed bouts that didn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth. From the Vazquez-Marquez trilogy to twin wars between Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor to even Juan Diaz valiant defeat to future hall-of-famer Juan Manuel Marquez. It reminds of 2007, as things were heating up when Pavlik KOed Taylor, and somehow all three judges saw it a nearly blowout for Jermain. That didn’t make any sense, but I wrote because the right man won. After this and the Cotto-Clottey fight, I am given that bad taste I remember from such laughable decisions as the Taylor-Wright draw and the Felix Sturm’s loss to Oscar De La Hoya. Hopefully, this summer trend ends here, because these “marketplace decisions” are anything but good for the marketing of boxing.

Article posted on 24.08.2009

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