It feels like every time we do one of these, and we've done around 20 now, we mention that controversies come in different forms. From judging, to refereeing, to time keepers making a mistake. They vary just in what the controversy was but also range complete utter incompetence to genuine mistake. Today we have what we feel was a competency issue, and it was a pretty major one which resulted in a title changing hands on what was certainly not a fair blow.
Hyung Chul Lee (19-4, 15) vs Alimi Goitia (11-0, 8) I
To set the stage we need to go back more than 25 years. We need to really go back to to September 1994, some 10 months before the fight we're about to discuss, and then we'll discuss the bout at hand, the controversy that mattered and share the video of the full bout.
In September 1994 Korean fighter Hyung Chul Lee scored the biggest win of his career, in what was a notable upset win over Katsuya Onizuka in Japan to claim the WBA Super Flyweight title. The win ended Onizuka's lengthy, but often controversial, reign and began Lee's reign, which it's self ended in controversy.
In his first defense Lee stopped Tomonori Tamura, a Japanese challenger who had held the Japanese Flyweight title, moved up in weight for this bout and retired afterwards. Then Lee took on unbeaten Venezuelan Alimi Goitia. On paper Goitia, boasting an unbeaten record, looked a very live challenger, though maybe lacked the experienced needed to deal with the champion. The bout was Gotia's first outside of the America's, though not his first away from home given he had fought one bout in Nicaragua in 1994.
On paper this looked a good one. Two solid punchers clashing for the WBA belt. One being an explosive, unbeaten rock fisted challenger. The other being the champion, a solid pressure fighter who had ended the long reign of a Japanese star less than a year earlier. And in fairness to the fighters it proved to be a very interesting bout from the off.
Lee was the aggressor, taking center ring and pursuing the challenger, who looked relaxed, comfortable and calm on the outside of the ring, picking his shots well and using his southpaw stance really well. The challenger was making Lee work hard for his success, and was limiting it well with his movement, reach and crisp, had shots.
It wasn't until round 3 that Lee's pressure really began to have any success, but to his credit Goitia didn't look in any trouble at all.
Then we got to the controversial round, round 4.
For the most part the round was another good on, with good back and forth. Goitia was surprising with his skills, movement and solid punching whilst Lee was continuing to take leather, coming forward in a desperate attempt to come close and begin the grinding process up close. Towards the end of the round it seemed like Lee was finally getting to his man, with Goitia on the move and looking like he felt one or two of Lee's shots on the inside. Then the bell went.
About a second after the bell Goitia took a swing and caught Lee clean with a left hook. Lee then hit the canvas and was flat on his back for quite a while before getting up. When up he still looked shook, but got back to his corner, seemed to dust himself off and get ready to resume.
Despite the shot coming clearly after the bell, referee Armand Krief didn't really do anything to take control of the situation. He spoke to ringside officials whilst Lee looked like he was preparing to continue the fight. Goitia also looked ready to resume the action. Sadly however the bout never continued. Although not featured on the video the bout was stopped with Goitia being declared the winner by TKO at an official time of 3:06 giving us one of the strangest endings of a Super Flyweight world title bout.
Some 7 months after this bout, following a stay busy defense for Goitia, the men ran it back. That rematch saw Goitia retain his title with a 12th round TKO, sending Lee into retirement. Rather oddly that rematch seemed to finish both men, and Goitia would go 2-4 (2) following his second bout with Lee.
When it comes to controversies in boxing we think we have corker for you today, from the UK. In fact this one is really weird when we think about, because had it taken place just a few weeks later the result would have been. That's not just us talking and making excuses, but literally the rules were changed the following month. What was ruled a TKO here, wouldn't have been had the bout taken place after the rule change.
Shinny Bayaar (15-4-2, 4) vs Paul Edwards (7-0, 1)
The bout in question saw British based Mongolian fighter Shinny Bayaar take on the unbeaten Paul Edwards in December 2010, in a bout for the British Flyweight title.
Coming into the bout Bayaar was the British Flyweight champion, and was looking to make his second defense. He had won the belt in October 2009, beating Chris Edwards, and had defended it with a draw against Ashley Sexton, in a thrilling bout in May 2010. Although he had losses on his record Bayaar had really turned his career around. He was once 6-4-1 (2) but then reeled off a 10 fight unbeaten run, including his title win and his defense against Sexton, and was seen as one of the best little men in Britain at the time.
Despite originally being from Mongolia, Bayaar had only actually fought once in the country, fighting to a draw. He had then fought in the Philippines, losing against former world champion Manny Melchor. He would lose against on his UK debut, in 2001, and at the time he sported a record of 0-2-1. Though again he rebuilt really well. Like most Mongolian fighters Bayaar was tough, and although not the most technical he really could fight, letting shoots go and having rough and tough wars. Sadly for him a lot of his bouts saw him suffering cuts, in part due to his style and in part due to his southpaw stance, that would turn out to be the case again here. Aged 33 coming in to this bout he was old for a Flyweight but was still in the run of his career.
The 24 year old Paul Edwards was the challenger and was regarded as a good prospect in the UK. He had been a good amateur, winning an ABA title, and had scored a notable win over Andy bell in February 2010. Although talented he lacked power, and had narrowly come through his 2 previous bouts, taking razor thin wins over Bell and Anwar Alfadli. Not only had he struggled in his previous 2 bouts but he was also being made to take a leap up in class here, going from 6 rounders to 12 round title bouts in one giant step.
Heading in to the bout Edwards was the notable under-dog, but with his unbeaten record, amateur pedigree and youth he was very much considered a live challenger.
What no one expected, was what we got.
The opening seconds saw the two men try to feel their way into the fight, but after only a few moments Bayaar began to march forward, and try to close the distance. Edwards tried to get his respect but that only seemed to anger Bayaar who began to up the intensity. Sadly that caused a clash of heads which left Bayaar with a huge cut in his forehead. Around 40 seconds after their headclash Bayaar was taken over to the doctor, who stopped the bout due to the nasty cut, which was genuinely brutal.
Almost anywhere outside of the UK this would have been either a No Contest or a technical draw. In the UK however there was an out dated rule, that meant if a fighter couldn't continue due to a clash of heads, the other fighter won by stoppage. That rule was in effect here, and resulted in Edwards getting an opening round TKO win over Bayaar as a result, and winning the title.
The rule that caused this result had been set to change in January 2011, a month after this bou, and finally saw the UK matching the rules of the rest of the world. For Bayaar however, that was too late, his reign was over.
Sadly we never got a rematch for this one. Paul Edwards lost the belt in his first defense, to Chris Edwards, who then beat Bayaar by decision when the Mongolia returned to the ring in December 2011, in what turned out to be Bayaar's final bout.
There are a number of fighters who are involved, regularly, in controversial bouts. We often see the same handful of fighters escaping a bout with a win they didn't deserve, and often hear about a fighter getting a home town decision. One such fighter was the biggest name in Japanese boxing during the 2000's and 2010's. Despite the controversy that followed him he remained a popular figure in his homeland among fans, though the boxing authorities certainly weren't fans.
Koki Kameda (28-1, 17) vs Hugo Ruiz (31-1, 28)
Whether you like him, hate him, or are indifferent to him it's hard to deny that Koki Kameda was a star in Japan. He drew TV audiences that fighters since him would do anything to match. He was a legitimate star, with a mix of people who wanted to cheer him and to see him lose. In 2010 those who wanted to see him lose got their way, as he lost the WBC Flyweight title to Pongasaklek Wonjongkam. That loss then lead him to move up to Bantamweight, skipping the Super Flyweight division all together.
Up at Bantamweight Kameda would win the WBA "regular" title, beating Alexander Munoz, and go on a reign that was rather terrible, if we're being honest. On paper some of his opponents were good, but others weren't. He would make 8 defenses of the title, with wins against the likes of Mario Antonio Macias, Noldi Manakane, John Mark Apolinario and Jung Oh Son among them. The one opponent that really stands out during this reign is Hugo Ruiz, a world class Mexican who he faced in 2012 in what was his 5th defense of the title.
Coming into the bout Ruiz was a 26 year old puncher boasting a 31-1 (28) record. He had won 22 in a row, with 19 of those coming inside the schedule. They had included wins against the likes of Francisco Arce, Yonfrez Parejo, the ever durable German Meraz and Alvaro Perez. These wins had seen Ruiz claim the WBA "interim" title and make 4 defenses of it before travelling over to Japan to take on Kameda.
Not only was Ruiz in good form, and would later become a world champion at Super Bantamweight, but he was huge at Bantamweight, towering over the naturally smaller Kameda. He had power, size, skill, and a good boxing brain.
Sadly for Ruiz this was his first fight outside of Mexico and came in Osaka City, the place that Kameda was from. The knowledge that he could be robbed had to be on his mind, and would be exactly what ended up happening.
The opening round saw the two men feel each other out whilst an audible "Koki" chant filled the Bodymaker Colosseum. Despite the loud chant the actual action was minimal through the first 3 minutes. Kameda was ultra negative, getting on his toes and making Ruiz follow him for the most part. When Kameda did rush forward to attack he had mixed success, often being countered.
In round 2 we saw Ruiz put his foot on the gas slightly, landing some nice body shots very early on, and countering Kameda's rushes well. The powerful right hand of Ruiz looked dangerous, even if he wasn't having massive amounts of success with it. Ruiz was cautious but still seemed to out box and out land Kameda in another quiet round. There was no intensity or fire to Kameda's work, and it looked much like the early stages of his bout with Noldi Manakane.
Round 3 was another tame one from Kameda, who got caught low at one point, as Ruiz's body work slipped slightly low. Despite the one shot slipping low the Mexican continued targetting the body, looking to take the legs away from Kameda who moved more than he punched. Every time Kameda came forward he took a body shot, though did try to steal the round late on. It was too little too late though.
It wasn't until round 4 that we really began to see Kameda letting his hands early in a round. Sadly though the early activity of the Japanese fighter didn't continue for long and his tempo soon slowed, as he continued to be countered. The speed advantage was with Kameda but the timing of Ruiz, added to his long reach, neutralised much of that speed. Towards the end of the round the tempo picked up notably, with Ruiz pressing the action, and tempers flared in the final seconds
Going in to round 5 it was hard to give Kameda anything, and that didn't change in rounds 5,6, 7 or 8. During those rounds Kameda continued to move, stay on the back foot and fight as if he was almost scared of Ruiz. In fairness Ruiz didn't do a lot himself, but it didn't seem like he needed to as he was still doing significantly more than Kameda, landing the better shots and pushing Kameda back. Almost all the highlights shown on TBS between rounds were from Ruiz's work and the venue was nearly silent at times. The early chants of "Koki, Koki" were gone, only appearing late in round 6.
The only real moment for Kameda and his team to get excited about was a slip in the corner by Ruiz mid-way through round 6. Technically it looked like Kameda forced Ruiz to touch down, but it was more a cuffing push than a clean punch.
With Kameda in a huge hole as we entered the later rounds it was clear he had to turn it on if he was going to try and retain his title. That however didn't really happen until round 10. Even then it was late in the round when Kameda finally came alive. It was the same in round 11, Kameda really did little for the first part of the round, before finishing very strongly, taking risks, and showing glimpses of what he could do. It was a brilliant finish to the round, and he managed to hurt Ruiz, but it really was just the final minute of the round that we saw that hunger.
With Kameda ending rounds 10 and 11 really well it was nice to see him actually starting round 12 with some hunger and fire and he took the fight to Ruiz in the final round. Had he done this through out the fight there wouldn't have been any controversy. In fact had he done this through the bout we suspect he genuinely could have ended up stopping Ruiz and making a statement. He genuinely had Ruiz in trouble at times in the final 2 rounds. But that was 2 rounds, of a 12 round fight.
After 12 rounds it seemed almost certain the WBA Bantamweight title was heading to Mexico. Ruiz had won most of the fight based on Kameda doing nothing. Kameda showed what he was capable of in the later stages, but that was not enough for us, and for most watching.
Of course it was enough for two of the judges. One judge had Kameda winning 116-113 and the other hand it 115-113 to Kameda. The only dissenting judge was Stanley Christodoulou who had the bout 117-113 to Ruiz. He was the only one close to reflecting what had happened.
For us Ruiz had won the first 8 without debate and lost the last 2. Rounds 9 and 10 there was some argument over, but even they felt they belonged more to Ruiz than Kameda. There was simply no way we could get to a card that had Kameda winning. He had blown the bout, but been given the win. His WBA title reign continued, and he would make 3 more defenses before vacating the title, when he was ordered to face Super champion Anselmo Moreno. It seemed even the WBA had had enough of his reign.
Kameda would go on fight for a Super Flyweight title, but lose to Kohei Kono in an historic bout that saw two Japanese fighters face off for a world title on US soil, the first time had ever happened. Ruiz would go on to win the WBC Super Bantamweight title, but lose it in his first defense to Hozumi Hasegawa, in a much better bout than this one.
For today's controversial clash we are going to look at one of the worst decisions of 2017, with officials that essentially did everything they could to make sure the local fighter won. Sadly it came at the expensive of someone who was rising through the ranks and would instantly have been in the world title mix had it not been for the officiating here.
Jamshidbek Najmiddinov (10-0, 8) Vs Viktor Postol (28-1, 12)
Of the two fighters it's obviously Viktor Postol is the more well known name. This was actually his first bout following his 2016 loss to Terence Crawford, in which he lost the WBC 140lb title to the American star in a big unification bout. Prior to losing to Crawford Postol had been one of the best fighters in the Light Welterweight division and had become a notable name on both sides of the Atlantic. He had proven himself in Europe to begin with, and then travelled to the US and had a run of wins against the likes of Selcuk Aydin and Lucas Martin Matthysse.
In the ring Postol was was a tall, rangy outside-boxer. He looked to establish range, keep opponents at bay and box them. He wasn't there to take risks, or take punishment, but to play it safe, rack up the rounds and chip away at opponents, as we saw against the likes of Aydin and Matthysse. Notably however he had also been out of the ring for around 14 months following the Crawford bout.
The 27 year old Jamshidbek Najmitdinov was a totally unknown Uzbek hopeful who had fought absolutely nobody of note prior to this bout. His only real achievement was that he had won the Uzbek national title, but the talent pool on the Uzbek national scene is essentially non-existent and his other goes were all pretty limited novices. This wasn't just a step up in terms of competition, going from domestic, lower level foes to Postol, but was also Najmitdinov's first bout outside of Uzbekistan.
On paper it was clear that Najmitdinov was there to get Postol an easy win, especially after the long lay off for the Ukrainian. Paper however doesn't tell the story of a fighter and that was found out very quickly as Najmitdinov proved he was there with a point to prove, and that he wanted to make a name for himself.
From the opening bell Najmitdinov looked aggressive, exciting and like a real natural. He fought with his hands down, lured Postol in to throwing and countered well, landing looping shots from the southpaw stance and he seemed to twice put Postol down from looping shots. Postol had moments, but Najmitdinov had far more of them, and he had the more eye catching ones as well.
In round 2 it seemed like Postol was figuring his man out, pressing well, jabbing well and Najmitdinov seemed to getting too reckless and doing some really strange and ineffective things in there. After a bad start it seemed Postol was now getting into gear, that was until round 3 when Najmitdinov starting to make things messy, frustrating Postol, show boating and landing wide looping shots once again. It appeared that Najmitdinov was having fun with Postol, keeping his hands down at times, baiting and countering the Ukrainian. The gamesmanship from Najmitdinov stepped up a gear in round 4 when he flat out taunted the former world champion.
Najmitdinov's enjoyment of the bout grew more in round 5, when he dropped Postol with a short left hand. Postol got up from the knockdown but was all over the place through to the end of the round, with Najmitdinov coming incredibly close to getting the stoppage. Postol was surviving, spoiling and doing all he could to get to the end of the round and clear his head, but it was a round that saw him really on the wrong end of things.
After a really good round 5 for Najmitdinov he seemed to slow down significantly in round 6 as Postol got himself back in into the bout. The Uzbek looked like he had shot his load and took the full round to recover his gas tank. That turned out to be a smart decision as he looked more aggressive in round 7, whilst Postol held and spoiled, realising his man was still dangerous.
With Najmitdinov seemingly in a clear lead going into the later rounds Postol picked up the pace in round 8, this seemed to get back into the bout, but he needed to do more in the final 2 rounds, and he didn't seem to do enough, for us at least to over-turn the good start by the unheralded Uzbek. Postol did show his class late on, there's no doubt about that, but given the knockdown, and very good start from Najmitdinov it was a case that Postol would have needed a knockdown, at the very least.
After 10 rounds we went to the scorecards and it seemed, from viewing the bout, that Najmitdinov had taken the decision, even in Postiol's backyard. Sadly however the decision wasn't to go the way of the Uzbek. In fact one judge gave Najmitdinov only one round, and the other two judges gave him just 2 rounds, 3 horrifically bad scorecards.
Sadly for Najmitdinov he was essentially frozen out of interest bouts for years after this whilst Postol got bouts with the likes of Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez within 3 years of this very, very questionable win.
One of the things we all agree with is that it's better to stop a fight too soon than too late. None of us watch this sport to see people suffer serious injuries, permanent damage or worse. Sadly though some bouts we see the referee decide that it's never too soon to stop a fight, and as a result we end up with a super early stoppage, of a fighter who really didn't need stopping or saving. Today we have one such fight as we share another Controversial Clash.
Ratanapol Sor Vorapin (29-2-1, 23) Vs Gustavo Vera (8-2, 7)
For this bout we go back to late 1996, over in Udon Thani, Thailand. At this point in time Ratanapol Sor Vorapin was one of the more notable Minimumweights out there. At this point he was enjoying his second reign with the IBF title, after originally losing it on the scales, and was looking for his third defense of this second reign.
Although somewhat forgotten now Ratanapol was one of the Thai stars of the 1990's and one of the few Minimumweights with genuine power. He didn't like bouts going long, and only 1 of his previous 12 had gone the scheduled distance. Whilst that said something about his competition, and we suspect even the most ardent of fans would struggle to name some of Ratanapol's opposition, it also spoke about his attitude in the ring. He threw heavy leather, in conditions that weren't great for visiting fighters, after all Thailand is an awful country to fight in as a visitor.
In November 1996 it was the turn of Gustavo Vera to face Ratanapol. Vera was a Venezuelan puncher who's competition, up to this bout, had been awful. He had been stopped in his previous bout, just weeks earlier, by Jose Bonilla. Other than Bonilla the only other name of note that Vera's had faced was Lee Sandoval, who had been stopped by Ratanapol earlier in 1996...and had beaten Vera in Nicaragua.
Although clearly not a suitable challenger Vera came out with some early confidence and did try to come forward early on. Within seconds however it was clear he shouldn't have been getting a world title fight. He did all sorts of things very wrong. He leaned over his own shots, put little into things and looked technically very poor, perhaps even nervous. Despite his flaws he did actually have some success, before being dumped on his ass towards the end of the opening round.
Despite being down Vera got back up. He was there to fight for a world title, and wasn't going to let his chance go that easily. Not only that but the knockdown seemed to be more a balance issue than him being hurt.
Then we went into round 2 and once again Vera looked wrong, but had moments. His awkward, unorthodox, novice like technique managed to some genuine success against the champion. He was however under pressure when Ratanapol finally opened up, and was forced to hold on before seemingly turning the tables and turning the bout into a shoot out. Instantly it seemed like the Venezuelan had decided that, win or lose he was going out on his shield.
He was then dropped. Fully aware of where he was he watched the count and seemed to beat it. At least that's what we thought and he thought. It wasn't what the referee, Bunruang Thakamfoo, thought as he waved the bout off. Much to the protestation of Vera and his corner who were clearly dissatisfied with the count.
Whilst we suspect the result would have been the same with out the questionable ending, there was only ever going to be one winner, it doesn't take away from the fact this feels like a very, very premature stoppage of a bout that could, and should, have gone on a little bit longer.
Sadly for Vera this would be his only world title fight, and his record after this is certainly not an impressive one, though he did share the ring with some notable fighters including Lorenzo Parra and Cesar Canchila after this loss.
Ratanapol on the other hand managed 3 more defenses before losing the belt in 1997 to Zolani Petelo and came up short in 2 attempts to win a Light Flyweight title. He fought on until 2009, before retiring after a loss to Rey Megrino of the Philippines.
An interesting aside - Vera's previous opponent, Jose Bonilla, fought in Thailand on the same day as this bout and upset Saen Sor Ploenchit for the WBA Flyweight title.
(For those wanting to forward to the start of the fight, the bell goes around 2:50 in the video)
During this series we've looked at some poor decisions, some weird stoppages, some poor time keeping, some odd technical decisions and some dirty behaviour. Today we're going to look at a bout that seems to have fans split three different ways.
There are those suggesting the result should have stood, and that the ending was legal. Others suggesting the bout should have ended in a TKO, as per the official ruling. Other state that due to the referee making an unclear call the bout should have either been either a technical decision or the recipient should have received time to recover, before the bout resumed. Whatever your take it's certainly an unusual ending and features one of the most controversial boxers of recent years.
Takehiro Shimada (22-3-1, 15) Vs Edwin Valero (23-0, 23)
For this bout we travel back to 2008, with Venezuela's Edwin Valero being the WBA Super Featherweight champion and Japan's Takehiro Shimada being his 4th challenger.
We suspect most reading this will be familiar with Edwin Valero. The Venezuelan destroyer had created buzz early in his career and had become a fan favourite in Japan in the 00's with Teiken pushing him as big thing. He had made his Japanese debut in in 2005, stopping Hero Bando in brutal fashion, and had then returned to take out Genaro Trazancos, Michael Lozada and the tough Nobuhito Honmo.
As well as his bouts in Japan Valero was making a name worldwide and fighting around the globe. By this point he had already fought in Venezuela, the US, Argentina, Panama, France, Panama and Mexico. For fans in the US and Europe he was mostly this fighter who they hadn't seen much of, with his only US bouts being very early in his career, but he was a man or international intrigue. He was a destructive force that everyone wanted to see. He had run up 18 straight opening round wins, and had proven himself a world class fighter in 2006, when he stopped Vicente Mosquera.
Takehiro Shimada on the other hand was essentially an unknown outside of Japan. He had never fought outside of Japan and in fact all of his fights were in Tokyo, with most taking place at Korakuen Hall. Despite never fighting away from home he had proven what he could do, and had twice given Rick Yoshimura a good, competitive bout, and had later won the Japanese Lightweight title. Until facing Valero he had only lost 3 times, twice to Yoshimura and once, early in his career, to Tadashi Honda.
On the flipside of that Shimada had never been stopped and had notched wins against good domestic foes, like Hidekazu Matsunobu, Chikashi Inada and Kengo Nagashima. Sadly following a win over Nagashima in 2004 he had toiled, with a string of tick over fights until he finally got a shot at a world title, taking on Valero in the summer of 2008.
Unlike many fights in this series much of the most is completely irrelevant to the controversy. There was no long drawn out things, but instead the controversy came at the end of the bout. With that in mind we're only going to briefly discuss the bout in general.
Through 6 rounds Shimada was doing his best to annoy Valero without posing much of an offensive threat. The Venezuelan was having regular success but never really hurting Shimada, who did enough to frustrate Valero at times. It seemed clear that Shimada's game plan was to frustrate early on, try to nick a round or two, and then test Valero's stamina later in the bout.
In round 7 Shimada's plan came apart when he was hurt. Just after the mid-way point in the round the pressure from Valero got too much and Shimada looked like he wilted to the point of taking a knee. After a pause it seemed like Valero hit a downed Shimada. Shimada got to his feet but was then deemed unable to continue, not held due to a massive swelling around his left eye. He didn't kick up much off a fuss about the stoppage, and he may even have been going down to just accept his loss and get some medical help.
From one angle it looked like Shimada had taken a knee before the final show and that the referee had tried to step in and stop Valero from throwing it. From another angle however it was clear that Shimada hadn't actually fully gone down. He was using the ropes to stay up right, but wasn't, technically, touching the canvas with anything but his feet.
With the referee right in front of Shimada at the end of the bout it was a call he was in the best position to make, though it seemed very much like he was going to call a knockdown, but did it with no conviction, allowing Valero the free shot and the TKO.
We've included the ending below and you can decide for yourself. Was this a totally legal shot, a legal but dirty shot, an accidental foul due to the referee's poor call, or a flagrant foul?
Notably Valero's career now is very much over shadowed by the way his life, and that of his wife, came to an end. Something that makes it hard to celebrate him as a fighter, despite his impressive record and exciting performance. It's hard, if not impossible, to separate the in ring fighter, from the man he was outside of boxing.
For today's Controversial Clash we go back more than 30 years to a very odd ending that came in a WBC Welterweight bout in the US. In one corner was a popular British fighter enjoying his second reign as a world champion, whilst the other corner played host to a Korean who is now probably best remembered for this one loss, than anything else he did in his career.
The controversial part here is the unique, and strange, ending, but before we get there lets just talk a little bit about the two men involved.
Yung Kil Jung (25-3-2, 17) Vs Lloyd Honeyghan (32-1, 21)
We expect very few fans will be familiar with Yung Kil Jung, unless you we a big fan back in the late 1980's with a great memory and remember this bout, from 1988, and his contest with Marlon Starling in 1989. And nobody willingly remembers that Starling bout. Jung was 24 coming in to this contest and had debuted way back in 1981 as a 18 year old. Despite mixed results early on, going 7-3-2 (4) in his first 12 bouts, he would go on to find his form and reel off 18 straight wins.
Those 18 wins for Jung not only saw him win the Korean and OPBF Welterweight titles but also saw him climb up the rankings on the back of notable victories against the likes of Seung Soon Lee and Nobuyuki Tabata. Sadly for him however his 30 fight career, up to this point, was spent entirely in Korea, and Korean fighters historically do not travel to the West with much success. Even when they are ranked #1 by the WBC, as Jung was.
Britain's Lloyd Honeyghan had claimed European, British and Commonwealth titles before making a huge splash in the US with a massive upset win over Donald Curry to win the WBC, WBA and IBF Welterweight titles in 1986. The win, over the then 25-0 Curry, saw Honeyghan move to 28-0 and become the undisputed Welterweight champion. Sadly Honeyghan would lose the WBA title on political grounds, but would defend the WBC and IBF titles through to 1987, before losing the WBC title to Jorge Vaca, on a technical decision. The loss to Vaca saw the IBF strip Honeyghan, though he would reclaim the WBC title by stopping Vaca in a rematch 5 months after the loss.
Honeyghan's first defense after reclaiming the WBC title saw him take on Jung in Atlantic City, New Jersey. That was the same city that played hoest to Honeyghan for his career defining victory over Curry less than 2 years earlier.
The bout was rather fun from the off, but it was clear the men were on different levels in terms of technical ability. Honeyghan was the much more talented fighter. He was the quicker man and he had a real sharpness to his work. Jung however was the more physically imposing, pressing the action in the first 3 minutes, closing the distance and using his physicality and strength to bully and push around Honeyghan. Jung's work wasn't the tidiest, but it was clear he was there for there upset and there to rough up the champion.
In round 2 we began to see Honeyghan getting on his bike, using the ring, picking Jung off at range with his crisper, sharper punches.Jung was still throwing big bombs, but was taking more than he was giving and was looking marked up around the face by the end of the round.
Rounds 3 and 4 were also good ones for Honeyghan who, despite trouble in the first round, was completely in control by now and the difference in skills were obvious. Jung was trying hard, but being tagged repeatedly and made to look distinctly average by Honeyghan.
It was in round 5 that we got the controversy. With the two men fighting on the inside, a low left hand from Honeyghan dropped Jung who was in agony. He had been caught well below the belt and was writhing in agony as his balls had been blasted. Replays showed how low the blow was, and it was really low.
Jung was unable to continue leaving us in a really weird situation. He had been clearly fouled, albeit accidentally, and was unable to fight on. Common sense suggests this should have resulted in us going to the scorecards for a technical decision due to an accidental foul.
After the bout was stopped however the decision was read out that Honeyghan had retained his title not by technical decision, but by TKO.
There was boos after the result, though in fairness it's unclear if they were booing the result, or the way the bout ended, though Honeyghan certainly didn't seem happy at the ending either.
Interestingly the announcement of the result stated that a fighter "cannot win a bout after receiving a low blow", an odd rule to say the least and one we are curious about. Would this mean a fighter can't win a bout by DQ due to low blows? Or was the rule just open to interpretation?
For us the bout had the right winner, though it very much seems like this should have been a technical decision win for Honeyghan, scored as if round 5 was completed, with a point off for the accidental foul.
That would have been similar to how Honeyghan had had a point off in his first bout against Vaca. Had that happened Honeyghan would have won by technical decision, retained his title and we wouldn't be talking about the bout today. Instead he essentially won by TKO via low blow.
On paper it dooesn't make much of a difference now, more than 30 years on, as to how Honeyghan won, but it's still controversial outcome and we still have Korean fans bringing up the result occassionally.
Was this a controversial bout? Yes! Was the winner the right one? Yes! Did Jung do himself no favours by staying down? Yes...though in fairness he probably was in agony, but maybe should have made more of an attempt to continue if he fancied winning the contest. Notably though he would get another shot at the title.
Honeyghan would lose the title in his next defense to Marlon Starling with Jung getting the first shot at Starling, who easily out boxed the Korean in a drama-less affair.
In the end things probably played out better for Jung, who got a second title fight almost certainly due to the controversial ending of this one.
Today we get to go back to an old whipping boy in this series as we feature the third Koki Kameda fight in this series. This is one of the more forgotten controversies of Kameda's career, but one that certainly needs talking about in this series, despite not being one of the worst. It was one where he went in as a very big favourite against a relative unknown and was perhaps a little bit lucky to walk away with the win.
Koki Kameda (25-1, 16) Vs David De La Mora (23-0, 16)
Early in his career Koki Kameda had looked like a star in the making, and he quickly got the Japanese fans behind him. They began to question his ability when he refused to face domestic opponents, and then some began to turn on him when he won his first world title. It wasn't that they out and out disliked him, but saw him as a man taking an easy route. That was feeling intensified when fans saw him getting lucky in his first world title win, a very controversial decision over Juan Jose Landaeta. His reign at 108lbs was a short one, with Kameda quickly moving up to Flyweight and claiming the WBC title with his career defining win over Daisuke Naito, avenging Naito's win over his Daiki Kameda.
That win over Naito made people realise Kameda was a really good fighter. Like him or hate him, he was a very good boxer and deserved respect. Then he lost that title just 4 months later in a huge upset defeat to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Rather than pursuing a rematch with Wonjongkam we saw Kameda move up in weight, again taking an easy option, and winning the WBA "regular" Bantamweight title with a win over Alexander Munoz. In his first defense Kameda beat the limited Daniel Diaz before then meeting unbeaten Mexican challenger David De La Mora.
Boasting a 23-0 (16) record the 23 year old David De La Mora was a real unknown quantity. His best wins were against the likes of Luis Valdez and Jovanny Agdael Soto. He was unbeaten but seemingly rather untested, with very little on his record to suggest he deserved a world title bout. Sometimes however an unbeaten record can give an illusion that a fighter is better, or worse, than they really are. With De La Mora the numbers looked good, even if his competition didn't.
Although De La Mora seemed to have done very little to earn a shot at a world title the WBA had him #8 coming into this bout, a big step up from Daniel Diaz who was #14 adding to the legitimacy of De La Mora's challenge.
In the opening moments of the bout it was clear De La Mora had come to win, he was showing ambition straight away and took center ring. Despite the ambition from the challenger it was the crisp punching, skills and hand speed of Kameda that caught the eye through the first 3 minutes. Although De La Mora had put in a credible effort, but it was a round that Kameda deserved, despite needing to work hard for it.
Kameda took center ring in round 2 and looked to get the respect of the Mexican challenger who fired back with some solid combinations of his own and made Kameda cover up more than once. It wasn't always the prettiest of work but when De La Mora opened up he seemed to have Kameda second guessing himself. It was great to see the young challenger looking to make a point and fighting to win.
The real drama for the fight came in round 3 as one of De La Mora's bursts of punches hurt Kameda and forced him to hold on and left him cut. Sadly for De La Mora he got greedy and reckless and was dropped by a counter left hand from Kameda. The shot, around 2 minutes into the round, turned what was a very good De La Mora round into a 10-8 for Kameda.
Despite being dropped De La Mora seemed encouraged by his own success in round 3. That encouragement saw him putting his foot on the gas hard in round 4, despite some issues with his gum shield at the start of the round. The aggression of De La Mora lead to a brilliant moment for him, where he unloaded with Kameda on the ropes. He then had some success when the two traded in center ring and again later on, when he again got Kameda was on the ropes. Although the round had some moments where little happened, the three big highlights for us were all from De La Mora, who picked his spots and really made the most of them.
Through the middle rounds we saw De La Mora build on his success, simply out working Kameda, who seemed to slip into a rut. The pressure, the ou put and the aggression were being driven by De La Mora. Kameda looked the more talented man, but all too often seemed happier to move, and circle rather than let his hands go. The tactics of Kameda made it easy for De La Mora to win rounds, fighting with exciting burst and out landing the tepid Kameda.
By the start of round 8 the good start from Kameda was easily forgotten. He was letting the bout slip away, fighting far too reservedly, and seemed stuck in a low gear. He showed flashes of brilliance, but failed to maintain it and his excellent skills were being used more to negate the action than to win a fight.
Although there wasn't open scoring in play things were close. In fact the judges had the bout incredibly close, with scores of 67-65 on two of the cards, both to Kameda, and the third judge had the bout level.
Round 8 itself was brilliant with both men giving as good as they got. This actually saw the round being split by the three judges, with one giving it to Kameda, one giving it to De La Mora and the other having it even. It was a genuinely fantastic round with both men having their moments, and both seemingly hurt the other. Both guys let their hands go and matched each other really well in 3 minutes of brilliant action.
We saw the pace drop off again in round 9, though both men had their moments with Kameda boxing well and De La Mora having success with some of his eye catching flurries. It was another ultra-close round and another very entertaining one.
De La Mora came back strong in rounds 10 and 11 as he looked to make a statement late and he looked damned good during those two rounds as Kameda once again slowed down and began to look gun shy. These two great rounds from De La Mora likely sealed him the victory in the eyes of some observers, though Kameda game back strong in a very, very entertaining final round as he looked to retain his title and he dug deep.
After 12 rounds it was close, but it seemed to be one that De La Mora had done enough to get it, at least for us. For us Kameda just didn't do enough in the middle rounds but he started well and ended well. It was however super close, however you saw it.
In the end all 3 judges saw it for Kameda, giving him the win with scores of 114-113, 115-113 and 115-112. It wasn't a terrible decision, but was one of those where the local fighter gets a disputed close one.
This was certainly not Koki Kameda's biggest controversy, far from it, but it was a controversial one all the same. A good number of those in Japan thought Kameda had gotten a gift, though there was, of course, some anti-Kameda bias behind some of those comments. It was close, hotly contested and one of Kameda's best Bantamweight bouts to watch. Sadly many of his other bouts at the weight were rather dull affairs, but this one was genuinely a great fight and is well worth a watch, even ignoring the controversy around it.
One thing we often forget about controversial bouts is that sometimes the final result is the right result, and although there is controversy in the action, and sometimes the original result, common sense can prevail. We've had a couple of cases in this series where a decision was reversed, with one bout being re-scored completely and one being turned into a No Contest after a relatively prolonged review process. Today we look at one which was reviewed, and turned into a No Contest, within minutes. It was the right call, but one that certainly was controversial to begin with, before the right decision was, finally, made.
Koki Eto (24-4-1, 19) vs Jeyvier Cintron (10-0, 5) I
In May 2019 Japan's Koki Eto and Puerto Rican Jeyvier Cintron met in a WBO International Super Flyweight title bout. The bout wasn't just for the international title but also a defacto world title eliminator for the winner of the then scheduled WBO world title fight between Kazuto Ioka and Aston Palicte.
Outside of Asia few fans will have been familiar with Koki Eto. We once dubbed him the Human Highlight Reel and during a stretch of his career he was among the most fan friendly fighters on the planet. His 2013 war with Kompayak Porpramook was a FOTY contender that saw him win the WBA "Interim" Flyweight title and the following year his war with Ardin Diale was arguably even better. He was clumsy, crude, but had guts, heart, power and impressive stamina.
Despite all the traits that made him fun to watch Eto also had a lot of flaws. They had been shown notably in his losses against Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep and against Carlos Cuadras. He had also continued to show them in his wins, including a 2016 bout with Jun Blazo, where he was dropped before bouncing back to stop the Filipino. He made for great fights, but didn't always fight as smartly as he should.
On the other hand Jeyvier Cintron was a potential star in the making. He was really well schooled, a second generation fighter and a 2-time Olympian. Style wise he was a lot less exciting than Eto, but technically he was on point and was a tall, rangy southpaw boxer who used his physical traits well. He was lacking in terms of power and aggression, and was instead a very talented boxer/boxer-mover with good speed and a good boxing brain. He had only turned professional in 2017 but had looked class and seemed on his way to the top.
On paper this was a step up for Cintron, but one where he was coming in as the clear favourite. This was his chance to prove himself, and boost his standing in the sport. Despite being a 2-time Olympian he wasn't getting the hype of some other Puerto Rican's yet was one of the most talented hopefuls the country had. Instead of being promoted hard he had been relatively well hidden on smaller, obscure cards. Soemthing that was a real shame.
The early moments of the fight saw Cintron using his speed and movement to get on the outside. Eto, doing what Eto does. He made mistakes that Cintron could counter and for the two minutes it seemed an interesting match up. Cintron the more polished boxer, against Eto, the crude but energetic slugger who would eat shots whilst trying to land one of his own.
With about 30 seconds of the opening round left Cintron hit the canvas, with what, from the camera angle, appeared to be an Eto right hand. Cintron would try to get to his feet, then stumble, into the corner, and continue stumbling around like he was drunk. This forced the referee to wave off the bout as Eto and his team began to celebrate.
It seemed like the Japanese fighter was going to get a world title fight, until a replay showed that the "shot" was actually a headclash. A very accidental headclash.
In the ring Eto was announced a TKO1 winner.
Then the officials went to a replay to review the finish. Soon afterwards the result was over-turned, as officials spotted the headclash on review, and deemed the result invalid.Unlike some reviews this didn't take long. In fact this was over-turned only minutes later, with the result becoming a No Contest. It was the right decision and proved that a review process doesn't need to take weeks. It was proof that replays in boxing could work for fight ending moments, and was a situation where the officials got it right.
Whilst the referee did "get it wrong" it was one where he wasn't actually to blame. It was an accidental foul by Eto and happened at such speed that the referee was never going to see it, and from where he was stood it looked like the right hand had landed clean. He made the right call in stopping the bout and he did what was best for the fighter, and the officials ringside did what was right for fairness.
Unlike most controversies this actually had no long term knock on and was very much a self contained controversy. The two would rematch in August, with Cintron winning and subsequently fighting Ioka for the WBO world title in December 2019.
It was unlikely the winner of this bout would have fought an interim bout prior to the Ioka clash, had their contest not ended in a No Contest, and this really wasn't a bout that cost either guy much in terms of their career. Sadly though the rematch lacked in terms of drama, excitement and talking points, making this a much more notable bout than their second clash.
Sometimes controversial bouts just beggar as to what has actually happened and back in 1978 we had one that, even 40 years on, leaves us confused every time we watch it. It was a DQ that seemed weird and had it not ended in a DQ we would have seen one of the most amazing upsets in boxing history. Instead of getting the upset we got one of the strangest endings in boxing history and one that didn't make any sense at all. In fact it very much looked like they decided to do what they could to bail out the world champion and big star.
Fel Clemente (11-7-2, 3) vs Danny Lopez (38-3, 36)
In October 1978 American fighter Danny "Little Red" Lopez was widely regarded as one of the top Featherweights on the planet and one of the most destructive fighters in all of boxing. He had won the WBC Featherweight title in November 1976 and had quickly scored 4 defenses, all by stoppage. Those stoppages had seen him not only retain his title but also extend a T/KO streak to 6 fights and build on prior victories against the likes of Ruben Olivares and Chucho Castillo and had been unbeaten in 14 bouts stretching back more than 3 years. In fact all 3 of his losses up to this point came within 8 months of each other before he found the best form of his career.
Lopez was the man at 126lbs.
Filipino fighter Fel Clemente on the other hand was essentially a journeyman. Unlike most journeyman however he came to fight, claiming a massive upset against OPBF champion Zensuke Utagawa in 1975, and almost taking the unbeaten records of Ronnie McGarvey (then 25-0) and Gerardo Aceves (then 6-0) later that same year. In 1978 he had a bizarrely busy year, which had included an upset win over Romeo Anaya in March, another upset win the following month over Jose Torres and one over Ernesto Herrera. He had actually gone 4-2 in 1978 before getting the call to face Lopez, just a month after losing a 12 round split decision to Francisco Flores.
Clemente's record looked like that of a club fighter, 7 losses from 20 bouts, but he was much, much better than those numbers suggested. He had been matched hard and had scored a lot of surprise wins.
The match up saw both men travel to Palazzo Dello Sport in Pesaro, Italy for the bout, a strange location for a bout between an American world champion and a Filipino who was barely ranked in the top 10 by the WBC. Nothing seemed to make sense about the contest, but in many ways the where and why didn't need to make sense, it was supposed to be an easy win for Lopez. It was supposed to be the next defense for Lopez, with no issues.
Someone didn't give Clemente the script and he took the fight to Lopez rather early on. Through the first round the challenged landed some very eye catching shots on the bigger, stronger Lopez. Whilst Lopez did land some good shots of his own it seemed Clemente was landing move of them, and was landing cleaner, with little burst of accurate shots whilst Lopez was, mostly, limited to single shots here and there.
Clemente continued to box well, confusing Lopez, countering him well, and even rocking him in the second round. The clean shots of Clemente were catching the eye time and time again and Lopez really was struggling to time him, or get his respect. Lopez's brick like hands weren't forcing Clemente to back off, and instead the Filipino was choosing when to come forward and when to make Lopez move.
In round 3 we finally saw Lopez begin to establish himself, as he moved up a gear. Despite better work from Lopez Clemente was continuing to have his moments and he turned up the pace late in the round as he attempted to steal the round. It was a great finish to the round, despite Clemente beginning to look a bit tired.
After a very good start to the fight for Clemente we then got controversy in round 4, just as Lopez was looking to take over.
The Filipino's left eye was swelling shut, the result of hard shots from Lopez, but Lopez's own face wouldn't hold up much longer as he suffered a nasty cut of his own, mid way through the round, around his right eye. This was a huge, nasty cut that forced Lopez to be taken over to the doctor. The referee ruled it to have come from a headbutt, though gave no warning to the two fighters. It seemed clear that if there was a headclash it was an accidental one.
After the doctor's inspection the bout seemed ready to go on. Both men looked like the fight was going to restart but referee Gujelmo Ajor kept the action paused before speaking to people outside of the ring, then speaking to the doctor again, who looked at Clemente. Lopez then had his cut looked over by his cutman, who cleaned up the cut.
The crowd were getting restless, frustrated and wanted the action to continue. It then seemed we were getting the fight's resumption before Ajor called off the bout leading to the announcer getting in the ring.
It seemed, almost certain, that the cut, caused from what may have been an accidental headbutt, would lead to a technical decision. Then the ring announcer came into the ring before the gloves were removed from the men.
Prior to the fight it was made clear that if the bout was stopped on an accidental foul the bout would go to the scorecards. It seemed that was what was going to happen here. It seemed that we were going to get a decision result one way or the other.
Then the announcement came in, with Lopez being announced by disqualification. Much to the massive anger of the fans who booed and whistled, making their anger well known. Clemente looked like he was celebrating, but it seemed he was saluting the fans whilst the situation became less and less clear.
The anger of the crowd grew as Lopez gave an interview. It was clear what the fans had thought of the outcome and they were pissed.
Sadly for Clemente he would never secure a rematch, and went 2-5 before ending his career. Despite that losing most of his remaining bouts he did share the ring with the likes of Salvador Sanchez, Ruben Castillo, Rocky Lockridge and Juan Laporte.
Lopez on the other hand made 3 more defenses before losing the title in 1980 to Salvador Sanchez. He would lose a rematch to Sanchez before retiring, making a a fight comeback in 1992, which he lost to Jorge Rodriguez, before hanging them up for good.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features