"Mas Macho"

27.11.06 - By Ted Sares: A few years back in July 2001, Hector Camacho Jr, 32-0 with 18 knockouts at the time, fought Jesse James Leja, 42-5-2, 17 knockouts coming in, at KeySpan Park in Brooklyn. In the fifth round, a cut was opened across Camacho's right eyelid. At the end of the round, Dr. Robert Polafsky examined the cut which did not appear to be all that bad to television or ring side viewers. Then, after some fussing and debate, it was announced that the doctor had ordered the fight stopped.

Under the rules it would go to the scorecards. After further confusion and stalling, Camacho was unbelievably declared to be ahead 49-46 on two of the cards and 48-47 on the third. The technical decision was roundly and raucously booed by a crowd of about 4,000 fans at KeySpan Park even though this was Camacho‘s home town.

"The doctor said he could continue," said Larry Merchant, HBO boxing analyst. "He said `I can't see,' and the doctor said OK." The doctor, referee Steve Smoger and the judges were ordered by the New York State Athletic Commission not to talk to the media. Hector Camacho Jr remained unbeaten, but his victory on a technical decision after five rounds tarnished the image of the WBA's No. 1-ranked super lightweight. Leija and his manager, Lester Bedford, called Camacho a quitter, and the evidence is clear their description was accurate. Leja had badly hurt Camacho in the fight and Junior plainly wanted no more of what the veteran brought to the table. He took the easy and safe way out.

Thankfully, the decision was later reversed and called a no contest.

Less than seven months later, Leja, apparently believing turnabout is fair play, did the very same thing to warrior Irish Micky Ward at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, TX. Ward had opened a cut over Leja's eye with a right cross, but referee Laurence Cole inexplicably called it a butt. The replay clearly indicated the cut had been caused by a punch. When the referee went to Jesse's corner, he said he could not see and the fight was stopped. A good thing for Leja. Micky was coming on and it was only a matter of rounds before he got his rhythm. Micky had been dry gulched in San Antonio......but that's what they do in the Lone Star State.......and with shocking regularity. For some strange reason this one escaped notoriety and has remained under the radar screen. It was every bit as bad, if not worse, than the Camacho fiasco.

The backlash against Camacho Jr was lethal and reverberated throughout boxing. But why not the same treatment for Jesse James Leija when he did the exact same thing against Ward that he claimed of Camacho? Why the double standard? Curiously, Leja, in his very next fight, would again quit on his stool against Kostya Tszyu.

Then, last night, the stage was set for a trilogy of this strange, if shameful behavior. But wait. This time a warrior was involved and warriors don't look for an easy way out.

Juan Manuel Marquez fought Jimrex Jaca at the Dodge Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. After 8 rounds of one-sided but spirited action, Juan Manuel's face had been rendered into a bloody mess as a result of multiple head butts. During the 8th round, referee Laurence Cole (yes, the same Cole) escorted Marquez to the corner for the doctor to look at him. Amazingly, Cole said to Jaun Manuel, "you are ahead on the scorecards." Clearly, he was suggesting to Marquez that if he decided to quit, the judges would go to the scorecards and award him the technical decision. Marquez would have none of this and wit appropriate body English said "let's just fight." Perhaps Cole was tired and wanted to go home early or perhaps he was gettig sick from all the blood, but one thing is very clear.....he should have kept his mouth firmly clamped. Only the judges are supposed to know what their cards say.

Marquez would then quickly take matters into his own capable hands and take out the very game Jaca with a double left hook. In so doing, he needed no help from Cole, the ringside doctor, the Texas Commission or anyone else. Marquez is no Camacho Jr or Leja.

Juan Manuel Marquez is mas macho.

Article posted on 27.11.2006

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