By Frank Gonzalez Jr. – It was another black eye for boxing Saturday night in Quebec City, Canada, where South African Lightweight Ali Funeka (30-2-3, 25 KO’s) faced Joan Guzman (29-0-1, 17 KO’s) of the Dominican Republic for the vacant IBF Lightweight title.
This fight started with Guzman winning the first two rounds using a slick, aggressive approach that involved some impressive feints, great in and out movement and punches that were landing. That lasted until near the end of the second round, when a Funeka jab opened a small cut over Guzman’s right eye. From round three on, it was all Ali Funeka, who found his range and used his height to keep Guzman at the end of his jab. Guzman was a bloody mess by the fourth round, as the Funeka jab had busted up his nose and pecked away at the small cut that grew larger and bled more as the rounds progressed.
Guzman spent rounds three through 12 trying to find a way to hit Ali Funeka but had very little success. Funeka jabbed like a maestro and dominated the action all the way to the finish. If ever a boxing match looked easy to score, this was it. Yet two of the Official Judges saw the fight as a Draw. Funeka had outclassed a bloody faced Guzman for 10 out of 12 rounds..
Guzman had to be a bit rusty, since he hadn’t fought in almost a year and hadn’t done much in the last couple of seasons. Actually, I don’t understand how Guzman even qualified for a shot at a title.
From round three on, Guzman missed often, got tagged plenty and grew more frustrated as the fight wore on. Guzman changed his tactics a bit and gave a good effort but the good big man with the hammering jab was too much for the shorter Guzman. Ali Funeka showed good footwork and timing, often countering Guzman’s misses with clean shots. A few times, I thought Guzman was going to get dropped but he held on—literally and finally opted to fight in close, where he might negate some of Funeka’s long armed offense. But that didn’t work too well either, as Funeka was simply the better boxer Saturday night.
Funeka was able to neutralize Guzman’s aggressive offense and control the tempo of the fight from rounds three until the final bell. When it was over, the two Canadian Judges scored it the same; 114-114. The American Judge had it closer to reality at 116-112 for Funeka. The result was a Majority Draw.
You have to wonder why the IBF even sanctioned this fight. A blind person could see that Funeka won this fight by a landslide. A “bad decision” was how HBO’s Harold Lederman generously described it.
If the IBF didn’t want Funeka to pay them dues for owning their strap, why did they let even him fight for it? Joan Guzman is a crafty boxer who’s shown some quality in the past but hasn’t really had his head in the game lately for whatever reasons. I don’t see how he even qualified to fight for a title based on what little he’s done lately. Guzman beat a fading Jorge Barrios back in 2006, won a decision over Humberto Soto in 2007 and won another 12 rounder over a little known opponent named Ameth Diaz in 2008. He was supposed to fight Nate Campbell last year but came in overweight. The fight was cancelled from Guzman’s end and even after Campbell said he’d accept the fight with Guzman being overweight, Guzman wasn’t interested. After taking that career path, Joan Guzman gets a shot at the IBF Lightweight title?
At least Funeka has fought two name brand fighters in his last two outings and has built a good momentum in the process.
It’s unlikely the Canadian Judges will ever be held to account for their incompetence. This bogus officiating saw Ali Funeka robbed of a title he really won. It makes Guzman look bad too since that Draw on his record is really a loss. The result of this fight is false and gives the impression that someone was protecting Guzman’s undefeated status Saturday night in Canada. Intelligent fans are insulted for being treated like fools who’ll accept whatever nonsense they throw at us and the sport suffers more criticism for allowing such officiating to go unchecked. I don’t understand how the boxing commissions can claim any legitimacy when they allow Official Judges to get away with ‘stealing’ from fighters right in front of the whole world.
And its not just Canadian Judges or American or German Judges. It’s the same business all over the world. There are a lot of good things about boxing but there is a lot wrong with the crooked way it is administered. There’s nothing encouraging about following a sport that you can’t trust for honest competition and officiating. Send letters or emails to the IBF and let them know that we do not approve of the decision that saw Funeka robbed of his victory. We all know boxing is more business than sport but good businesses do well because they build a good client base. Bad businesses ultimately fail because no one wants to buy what they’re selling. Pro Boxing only exists because of us—the fans who keep them in business. They know that. Enough is enough already! The head of the IBF should overturn this hideous result immediately. It’s garbage like this—that’s killing the legitimacy of boxing.
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