We saw the first big boxing upset of 2021 on Saturday night at Wembley, London, when young Mexican warrior Mauricio Lara ended Josh Warrington’s unbeaten run with a punishing 9th round stoppage win. Yet chances are good that when the time comes to look back at the best and worst of the year, the far too wide unanimous decision Zelfa Barrett was awarded with after his hard night with Kiko Martinez will get handed The Robbery of The Year ‘award.’
In short, we saw all that is good and admirable about the great sport of boxing – fierce action, fine sportsmanship, high drama – along with all that is bad – terrible judging, overly brave corner-men. Poor scoring has of course been around for the longest time since the sport began. No-one has ever been able to come up with a solution to the problem, though plenty have tried (open scoring, a 13th and deciding round of an even fight, five scoring officials instead of three).
Saturday’s 118-111, 118-111, 116-113 scores, handed in after Barrett and Martinez had pushed each other to the limit in their hard and entertaining super-featherweight fight, angered promoter Eddie Hearn – to the point where the Matchroom boss asked the question: How are we going to bring foreign fighters to this country when they get zero credit for their performance?
And Hearn’s guy won.
Hearn was livid with the wide and thoroughly inaccurate scoring.
“That was a very close fight,” Hearn said of Barrett-Martinez when speaking with Sky Sports. “I thought 118-111 is absolutely disgusting for Martinez. Martinez was relentless and if he lost it was by one or two rounds. We have some fantastic officials but 118-111 doesn’t do anyone any favours. After all that effort Martinez may as well have boxed on the back foot and had an easy night.”
So what should be done? What can be done? The Barrett-Martinez decision comes just four months after Mexican warrior Miguel Vazquez was beaten via a hugely debatable decision in his fight with Britain’s Lewis Ritson. That one, which took place on a Matchroom card in Peterborough, was a split decision, yet it didn’t make the sense of injustice any easier to swallow. British boxing could end up getting one heck of a bad reputation as far as “home cooking” scoring goes if things do not change.
Perhaps it’s already too late. If you were a Spanish fighter or a Mexican fighter, would you feel safe and secure in accepting a fight in the UK with a star fighter?
As for Martinez, chances are he may get a rematch with Barrett. But who could blame Kiko if he said thanks, but no thanks? At age 34, after such a long and hard career, Martinez might not have too many great efforts left in him. He must be feeling terribly aggrieved right now, a couple of days after giving his all and getting, as Hearn said, zero to show for it.