27.02.07 – No. 3-ranked International Boxing Federation cruiserweight contender Steve “USS” Cunningham said Poland should be removed from consideration to host his IBF-ordered rematch with Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in favor of a country with a proven track record of staging fair contests. When Cunningham, from America, and Wlodarczyk, from Poland, met for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title in Warsaw on Nov. 25, it was the first world championship ever staged in Poland. Unfortunately, the event was mired in controversy long before Wlodarczyk was awarded a disputed split-decision victory..
“I thought Poland and most of the people I met in Warsaw were great,” Cunningham said, “but I don’t think they’re capable of staging a fair boxing fight especially when one of their own is in the ring.”
The IBF ordered the immediate rematch on Jan. 22, citing the failure to administer required drug tests to both fighters after their first contest, but the anti-doping measures joined a long list of disputes and discrepancies leading up to the fight.
A Polish and a German judge ruled in favor of Wlodarczyk by the respective scores of 115-113 and 116-112, while the third judge, an American, saw the contest a near-shutout for the Philadelphia-born Cunningham at 119-109.
When rules disputes arose in the week leading up to the fight, Cunningham’s representatives requested but were never supplied a copy of the rules and regulations from the Polish boxing commission, rules they were told were governing all decisions. Disagreements ensued on many issues including ring size, gloves to be used, and a last-minute judge change, issues which were never satisfactorily addressed by any of the usual and customary procedures normally adhered to in a world championship bout.
Representatives from both fight camps were critical of the oversight provided by the IBF during the inaugural world championship prizefight held in Poland.
Richie Giachetti, Cunningham’s manager and trainer, said it was obvious to him that the Polish commission was attempting to give Wlodarczyk unfair advantages.
“The Polish commission told us four days before the fight that they were replacing an Italian judge with a Polish judge regardless of the fact he had never scored a world championship fight,” Giachetti said. “When I objected, they told me there would be no fight if the Polish judge wasn’t allowed to score. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“The IBF should step up and do the right thing. Steve will be happy to meet Wlodarczyk anywhere but in his home country.”
Cunningham’s promoter Don King and representatives for Wlodarczyk were unable to come to terms for the rematch, so the IBF has ordered a purse bid scheduled for March 6.
King, who represents many Polish fighters including heavyweight Andrew Golota and former light heavyweight world champion Tomasz Adamek, was quick to point out that Cunningham and Wlodarczyk did their jobs inside the ring. His concern is to make sure the rematch takes place in a seasoned boxing jurisdiction with proven adherence to the accepted rules and regulations of the sport.
“To remove the appearance of impropriety and to ensure justice and fair play, the IBF owes it to these fighters to make sure the rematch is held in a location known for providing a level playing field for boxers,” King said. “With all the controversy stemming from the first bout, I think it would only be right for the second match to be held in a different location. The IBF should clarify this issue prior to the purse bid as a first step towards assuring that the rematch will be conducted fairly.”