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 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