Week in and week out we see one scorecard that isn't just questionable but is downright wrong. It seems it's now commonplace for one judge to dial in a card without watching the fight and without caring about the integrity of the sport that they are supposed to be officiating in. Sadly for Etsuko Tada (13-2-2, 3) the "odd judge" in her bout this past Saturday night scored the bout 99-90 to Anabel Ortiz (16-3, 3) and helped the Mexican to a successful but controversial defense of the WBA female Minimumweight title.
Last year Tada had lost the belt to Ortiz in Japan by split decision. This time around Tada had gone to Mexico in an attempt to reclaim the belt but found the judges, especially the "odd" judge, to be less than helpful in her attempt to become a 2-time world champion.
The bout started at a hectic pace with both going all out in a fast paced and highly exciting fight. It wasn't so much boxing as a fight with both unloading shots on one another. It was was entertaining as you could get with Tada pinging in lighting fast right jabs whilst Ortiz tried to turn the fight into an inside brawl and neutralise the height and reach of the challenger.
Through 4 rounds the fight was brilliant with Tada seemingly getting the much better of it.
From round 5 on wards the fight began turning in favour of the Mexican who was given some help when Tada was deducted a point for head clashes and rounds 6, 7, 8 and 9 all seemed to competitive with Ortiz just doing enough to take them overall, however they were all competitive and no one would have batted an eyelid had one gone to Tada.
The fight ended on a real high with both trading shots through the final round, blood dripping from the faces of both women as they put it all on the line in the hope of winning a close fight. It really was a round that deserved to decide the fight and in the end it was the sort of round that fans deserve to watch. Sadly the judge who scored 99-90 had already made up their mind on who had won and lost well before the round, the other judges however each seemed to watch the fight and make a fair decision.
Given the action and the number of close and competitive rounds no one really knew which way the bout had gone until the cards we read out. Sadly they favoured Ortiz with scores of 99-90 and 96-93 whilst a dissenting judge had it 95-94 to Tada in what was a very tight bout though one that likely left Tada asking what she needs to do to earn favour with the judges who have now given her two split decision losses to Ortiz.
We often hear that to earn a draw in Germany you need to score a knockout and an example of that appeared to be seen again this past weekend when Japan's Naoko Fujioka (12-1, 6) suffered her first career defeat at the hands of Susi Kentikian (34-2-0-1, 17) in a bout for the WBA female Flyweight title. Fujioka, attempting to become the first Japanese female to win world titles in 3-divisions saw her German rival hold, spoil, run and show off various throws en route to taking a decision that should really did feel like a lucky escape for Kentikian.
The fight started well for the German champion who looked like the faster and busier fighter in the opening round. Despite the good start from the German things began getting closer in the next rounds and by round 3 it seemed that Fujioka was coming on strong whilst Kentikian was happy to hold and smother the Japanese fighter who seemed like she was imposing herself.
Through the middle rounds it again seemed that Fujioka was getting the better off it and certainly landing the harder shots as Kentikian put her head down and flailed fast but limp shots at the Japanese fighter who was looking like a much better technical boxer. It was in the middle of the fight that the two fighters seemed to go from trading to scrappy holding time and time again with both given multiple warnings for various fouls. It clear that the styles were going to lead to some messy action but the referee seemed unable to clear up the action which was broken time and time again as the contest began to show signs of becoming a maul.
The mauling was occasionally broken up with Kentikian bundling Fujioka to the canvas in what seemed to be an attempt to catch a breather and by the end of round 5 Kentikian was beginning to look tired and looked to be breathing heavily.
Things appeared to go from bad to worse for the German who was cut in round 7 above the right eye. From then on the German became even more negative and at times seem to run, especially early in round 8. It was as if Kentikian knew she was in trouble but also at home and that holding and running was going to help regain her composure despite the cut. The running however ended before the round was over and Fujioka began landing heavy shots on the German. The heavy shots from round 8 seemed to put the fear into Kentikian who held and ran and spoiled through round 9 as Fujioka again seemed to land the better shots before the two began unloading power shots on each other. At the time it looked like Kentikian was throwing shots out of desperation and was attempting to stem the Fujioka offensive with her own heavy shots.
Round 10 saw both fighters given warnings before swinging big at each other and trading in the later sections of the fight to end what had been an engaging yet frustrating contest that had seen some great highlights, particularly in round 7, but had also seen some really ugly moments as the two fell in to each others.
After congratulating each other on a great fight it seemed that Fujioka was the one to celebrate whilst Kentikian went to her corner and looked resigned. What both fighters seemed to forget was that the bout was in Germany and in Germany it really does take something rare to beat the German. this was shown in the scorecards that favoured Kentikian with scores of 97-93, 97-94 and 96-94. We suspect had the fight been in a neutral venue then the title would have changed hands.
Earlier today Japanese fans saw the first defense of the WBC female Minimumweight title by the popular and surprisingly attractive Yuko Kuroki (12-4-1, 6) who narrowly over-came battled hardened Mexican Katia Gutierrez (19-4, 4), herself a former IBF world champion.
The first started fast with Gutierrez attempting to cut the distance from the opening seconds. Kuroki tried to counter the pressure of the challenger using her movement and whilst the movement did help her find some breathing space it didn't prevent her from suffering notable damage as early as the second round.
What the movement began to do as the bout progressed was make life difficult for Gutierrez to have any sustained success, despite landing the much heavy looking blows, with Kuroki managing to use her reach advantage to fight from a distance. It was fighting from a distance for the most part that allowed Kuroki to rack up the rounds she needed on two of the scorecards to take home the win via a split decision.
The scores rendered by the judges were 96-94 to Kuroki twice and 97-93 to Gutierrez. For what it's worth only neutral judge, a Swiss official, had Kuroki winning in what was effectively the deciding card.
For Kuroki this was a very tough first defense though post fight comments from both seemed to suggest a real mutual respect. Gutierrez thought she had just done enough to win against the fast champion and called for a rematch whilst Kuroki suggest she would like a rematch with the talented and heavy handed Gutierrez or unification bouts if they were possible.
The crowd really got a treat here and hopefully Kuroki's next defense will be just as competitive though we would understand if she took an easy defense following tough bouts with Gutierrez and Mari Ando in her last 2 bouts.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)