29.06.08 – by James Slater: There was massive confusion followed by even more massive controversy in Las Vegas last night, as Mexico’s Humberto Soto was disqualified in his interim WBC super-featherweight title fight against The Dominican Republic’s Francisco Lorenzo..
The bizarre end came in round number four, as Lorenzo went down in a corner and was hit by a late left hand by Soto. After an interminably long delay, during which referee Joe Cortez spoke with a number of ringside officials, the referee’s decision was at last announced by M.C Michael Buffer. Francisco Lorenzo, by way of one of the most debatable DQ’s in years, was the new interim super-featherweight champion according to the WBC.
The fight started off normally enough. Lorenzo showed he had a dangerous right hand and Soto threw a lot of his own punches. Round two saw a good exchange, with the Mexican getting the better of things. There was a hint of the controversy to come in round 3, as a time-out was called due to an accidental head-butt. By the 4th, the round in which all hell broke loose, the action had turned messy, with Lorenzo doing a good deal of spoiling. Suddenly, his face now covered with blood, Lorenzo was sent down from a Soto combination upstairs. Up at about the count of seven, Lorenzo was soon under more fire.
Stuck in a corner, Lorenzo was being hit with a number of punches when Cortez grabbed Soto and appeared to be stopping the fight. It’s unclear what Joe was thinking, but the fight continued as the ref backed off. Then, after going down to escape further punishment, Lorenzo signalled to the back of his head in a clear attempt to complain he’d been hit illegally. Cortez immediately called time, while Soto, thinking he’d won the fight, jumped up on the ropes with his arms aloft.
Now with blood absolutely pouring down his face and transforming him into a grotesque mess, Lorenzo remained prostrate on the canvas for a very long time. Confusion took over as no-one was sure what was going on. Was the fight over? Had Soto stopped his man? Was Lorenzo badly hurt? The blood was coming from a bad cut over Lorenzo’s right eye and pretty soon the blood as all over the fighter’s chest and on the ring canvas. Lorenzo then laid there with nobody assisting him, as the ringside officials discussed what to do. These really were some bizarre and disturbing scenes.
As commentator Wally Matthews said, why no doctor or even his corner people were seeing to the stricken Lorenzo was very strange indeed. Eventually, after what seemed like about ten minutes, Cortez waved his arms indicating the fight was indeed over, and then Buffer informed the crowd that Soto had been disqualified.
In replay it could be seen that a grazing left hand did indeed land from Soto as Lorenzo was down. But was this shot sufficient grounds for DQ’ing the Mexican? In the post-fight interview Cortez said he had no choice but to make the call, commenting that “Safety comes first.” Why no-one seemed too concerned with the safety or the well-being of Lorenzo as he lay bleeding flat on his back is a mystery. As is the reason it took Cortez so long to make the call he had “no choice” but to make. Surely, if a fighter hits an opponent with an illegal shot the referee sees, the third man’s call should be all but instant?
The arguments will rage long and hard over this one, and once again boxing was given a black eye in terms of its reputation in the sports world.
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