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.
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