Sharkie’s Machine: Malignaggi, Diaz, the Texas Judges and Boxing

Paulie MalignaggiBy Frank Gonzalez Jr. - August 24, 2009 - Last February, Juan Manual Marquez managed to beat the young strong Diaz in Houston the only way you can win there…by KO. But how did Rocky Juarez score a Draw against Chris John there? Anyone who knows boxing knows Chris John out boxed Juarez most of the night. Rocky’s a scrappy fighter, but there’s no way that fight was a Draw. Saturday night, Malignaggi out boxed and out scored Diaz in most of the rounds but didn’t score a knockout, so he lost the decision.

Last Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston Texas, Light Welterweight, Juan Diaz (35-2, 17 KO’s) faced Paulie Malignaggi (26-3, 5 KO’s) of Brooklyn NY, in a fight that featured two guys who lost their last two fights to top level opposition. This was a crossroads fight for both men. You’d think in the interest of fairness that a fight of this importance would at least happen at a neutral venue; but no, it was in Diaz backyard, where visiting fighters can only win by knockout, because you can’t win by points in a fight against a local name brand fighter in Houston..

The Diaz vs. Malignaggi fight started with Malignaggi having a great first round, where he danced circles around Diaz, popping him with that fly swatter jab and scoring far more than Diaz, who was aggressive but ineffective against the mobile target that was Malignaggi. But at the end of the first, Diaz landed a shot at the bell that opened a cut on Malignaggi’s left eye. Near the end of the second, Malignaggi landed a right cross that opened a nasty cut over Diaz left eye. Of course there were screams of “head butt!” from everyone except the referee, who didn’t see a head butt, since there was none. Diaz came on strong in the second and third rounds with good pressure that forced Malignaggi to play defense instead of offense. Though Diaz punches often, he’s not a big banger either.

In the fourth, it was evening up as both scored in turn and by the fifth, Malignaggi was in a groove, moving real well, popping his jab and little pity pat punches that were scoring. Malignaggi won rounds four through six, and then Diaz won the seventh with a few good shots that looked to stun Malignaggi a bit. Rounds eight through 11 saw Malignaggi with renewed energy, out boxing Diaz and frustrating him, as he landed his jab repeatedly and used his right hand with effectiveness. Diaz went all out in the 12th round, but it wasn’t enough to win the boxing match.

The official scores were had no bearing of what took place in the ring, as Gale Van Hoy had it 118-110, Raul Caiz had it 115-113 and the other Judge, Dave Sutherland scored it 116-112, all in favor of Juan Diaz. Amazing. HBO’s unofficial scorer, Harold Lederman had it seven rounds to five in favor of Malignaggi. How did the three Houston Judges see it so very differently than Lederman?

These Judges are inexcusably incompetent. There’s no excuse why any of those three should ever be allowed to judge a pro boxing match again. But we’ll see them again, doing the same thing, just watch.

It’s a crime committed against honest fighters that work hard and succeed in their quest, only to see their careers go into the toilet because of dishonest ‘official’ decisions. How is it that this garbage continues, year after year after year?

In the lead up to this fight, Malignaggi talked about the way the deck was stacked against him, with the small ring that favored Diaz and having Gale Van Hoy and Raul Caiz for Judges, who Malignaggi said are biased. Paulie said he wouldn’t get a fair shake in Houston and he was right. Now he knows how Herman N’Goudjo and Lovemore N’dou must’ve felt after fighting him.

After the official scores were announced, Malignaggi looked like a man would after he realized his wallet was stolen on payday.

After the decision was announced, Diaz was interviewed and he expressed gratitude to Oscar De La Hoya, Golden Boy Promotions and his fans, who wouldn’t give Malignaggi a round of applause, even when Diaz asked them to. It takes a lot of guts to even step into the ring but to go fight more than a thousand miles from home and then win the fight and then get robbed by the judges…and even the fans in the audience won’t give you any respect? I’m no big a fan of Malignaggi but he earned my respect after his epic battle against Miguel Cotto, where Cotto broke Paulie’s jaw but he fought through the pain and gave a respectable account of himself in the biggest fight of his life. This fight in Houston was an outright theft and Paulie called it before the first bell rang.

During the post fight interviews, Diaz complemented Malignaggi, saying he was a great fighter. He said he wants a rematch (with soon to be 37 years old) Juan Manual Marquez, who scored a TKO in nine over Diaz last February in Diaz backyard. I didn’t hear Diaz call out Nate Campbell though, who like himself, also fights at 140 pounds these days.

When Malignaggi was interviewed, he wasn’t shy about expressing his feelings. He immediately asked the interviewer, Max Kellerman, how HBO scored the fight and Kellerman said that Harold Lederman scored it seven rounds to five in favor of Malignaggi. Then Malignaggi said, “At least someone got the score right. (the crowd jeered while he spoke) I don’t know why Houston is booing me? I have nothing against you guys, you’re good fans, you made a lot of noise. I don’t blame the crowd but I had to go through a lot of politics. It’s ridiculous! Raul Caiz is Golden Boy’s go-fer—and HE had the closest scorecard! This state never gives a fair shake to anyone coming to fight here.”

Max tried to change the subject, posing another question, “Assuming you don’t get a rematch with Diaz…” and Malignaggi cut him off saying, “You KNOW I won’t get a rematch! Boxing is full of shit! Diaz can call out Marquez or Mayweather but I don’t have that luxury because I’m just an ‘opponent’ after losing this fight. I have to take whatever I can get, like to be the opponent of another hometown fighter in his backyard. Congratulations Houston, you have a great warrior champion but I won this fight.”

As HBO wrapped up the show, Bob Papas said he didn’t think Malignaggi did himself any favors by what he said in the ring. He said he felt for him but some things you just got to take. Maybe that’s true since boxing is one of the only sports where the athletes have no representation. It’s all about the Promoters. There is no boxer’s union, like other sports have. Who looks out for the fighters? You’d hope it would be the boxing media.

Papas then said he could see 115-113 for Diaz or Malignaggi, or even a Draw, either way. He casually accepted the robbery he just saw happen as being something normal. I like Papas but I disagree with his attitude. Anyone who cares about boxing should be pissed off with the direction things have been going in the last decade. It’s just not a very good product anymore. Too many predictable fights, phantom top contenders, bogus decisions, no accountability for refs or judges, no mandatory rematches for No Contest fights that ended due to injury, too many titlists that don’t fight each other, too many Pay Per Views that suck and have under cards that are so bad, you’re half asleep by the time the main event begins. What’s to like about this crap when boxing could and should be so much better? This was once the most popular sport in the World.

It would take a fighter with a big appeal and resources to create a Boxer’s Union or Association that protects the fighters. Because boxing is a global sport, there should just one, World Sanctioning body. I used to hope Oscar or Bernard would use their popularity and resources to do something to help fighters but instead, they’re big time promoters themselves now. DLH seems more powerful than Don King; his influence with HBO is unrivaled.

We, the fans are the reason they’re in business. In this information age, there’s no reason we fans don’t let the Promoters and Sanctioning bodies know that we’re tired of all their garbage. We don’t mind them making money, so long as they deliver an honest product. We want real competition, legitimate, merit based rankings, competent officials and one champ per division.

In the last few months, I’ve seen a few MMA fights and I can’t recall any incident of the judges robbing a fighter. The matches are entertaining because their not mismatches and there seems to be nothing but respect from all the combatants toward each other before, during and after the fights. How is it that MMA can do this and boxing can’t?

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Article posted on 25.08.2009

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