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A Call for a Moratorium on Big-Time Boxing in Texas

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Credit: Will Hart / NBCUniversal ©2012 WILL HART

Fallout from the Latest Sham in Texas Boxing: Kirkland vs. Molina

If you’ve noticed Texas seems like a fertile playing ground for boxing shenanigans, you are not alone. I don’t have any exclusive information other than the fact that when I watch a big fight from Texas, I get the same feeling I had when watching WWF wrestling matches from the ’80s.

The results bear no resemblance to what we see in the ring! I’ll give Texas a break here and not go back to the Whitaker-Chavez robbery to build a case. Just look at this year, which isn’t even 1/3 completed. We got a little sneak preview that Texas would have a big year this season when one of the more unfathomable cards in recent memory was handed down–a 115-112 score by judge Dr. Ruben Garcia in favor of Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. in his fight with Nonito Donaire.

With that score in mind, one should have seen the Tavoris Cloud-Gabriel Campillo robbery coming. Campillo soundly outboxed Cloud. The score of Dennis Nelson, 115-111 in favor of Campillo, was right on target. Unfortunately, he was overruled by the 114-112 score of judge Joel Elizondo and the gut-wrenching tally of 116-110 by “judge” David Robertson, who must have been phoning in his scores from the beer-garden in the parking lot.

Credit: Will Hart / NBCUniversal ©2012 WILL HART

Then came this past weekend’s HBO-televised James Kirkland-Carlos Molina fight. Referee John Schorle, a former regular on the California circuit was announced as the referee and I winced. Nothing against Schorle, but I have a few instances in my head where he froze during a hectic fight, botching a crucial call. In a fight with Kirkland, I was hoping for someone with a surer hand.

And I’m not even saying Schorle didn’t have a case when he DQ’d Molina after his spaced-out cornerman wandered into the ring. But I still thought Schorle could have used some discretion. The cornerman didn’t really affect anything, did he? It was sort of an innocuous foul. But no, he gave the fight to Kirkland, robbing Molina of a chance to win, depriving us of a nice finish to a good fight, and not allowing Kirkland to cap off a nice comeback in legit fashion.

Then we saw the scorecards. We expected Molina to be far ahead at the time the fight was stopped and naturally, he was behind on one card and hanging onto dear life on another. Molina was unable to outfight Kirkland and forge through two layers of institutionalized incompetence.

I thought Schorle was decisive and authoritative in disqualifying Molina. Rules are rules, I suppose. But where was this stickler for protocol when Molina was holding and grasping Kirkland dozens of times every round? You let Molina act like Bonecrusher Smith to the 10th power without a peep of protest, but now you’re gonna be Stalin over a cornerman jumping the gun by a few seconds?

The unfortunate point we have arrived at is that when a big fight is in Texas, the result is going to get botched more often than it’s not. Judges will act like blind men and referees will freeze and blow it. Almost every time. It’s not befitting a great state with a storied background in the sport, with some of the best fans in the world. Texas deserves better.

And all this has been happening on commissioner Dickie Cole’s dime. The old guy has got to go. Who does he think he is anyway, sitting there with an arrogant countenance, while his state wrecks every result to almost each big fight that comes into his jurisdiction? Get the hell outta there already. And take your dopey referee son Laurence with you, before he goes ahead and blows another big one too.

Does that seem harsh? Perhaps. But imagine working your whole life towards a goal, only to get screwed in Texas when the stakes are high. That’s harsh. A kid decides he wants to box. He devotes his soul to it. He makes sacrifices, maybe missing out on some normal rites of passage for young men along the way. Thousands of rounds of sparring. Bloody noses. Waking up at 5 in the morning to run in the cold. Punctured eardrums. Years and years later, it builds to a crescendo–only to fall prey to some Wrestlemania-type result in Texas. So excuse me for hurting the Coles’s feelings, but I’d rather be insulted than have my life dreams snuffed out over some incompetent BS.

There is a built-in component for monkey business in this sport that all fans and media are willing to accept to a certain point. It happens and there is nothing we can do about it. But at least most commissions have the good taste to not fly past the invisible line in the sand. There’s a threshold and the sport usually does a good job straddling that line. But what goes on in Texas is just above and beyond any normal shenanigans that take place in this business. The line has been crossed.

I don’t know what Dickie Cole does. He may very well be a nice guy who isn’t corrupt. But what is his job in essence? Isn’t it basically to give people the impression that things are on the up-and-up in his state? That’s it. The rest is window dressing. And he has failed in that respect. When you take 100 boxing writers and none of them scored in favor of Tavoris Cloud, how are we supposed to believe that 2 of 3 objective judges would somehow score for Cloud? The sheer mathematics of that likelihood point right to shenanigans.

The commissioner doesn’t score fights. But isn’t his job to oversee that judges of world title fights are up to par? Who is this Dr. Ruben Garcia character who scored Donaire-Vazquez, Jr. 115-112, Vazquez? Where did they dig up a bonehead like David Robertson with his cockamamie 116-110 card in favor of Tavoris Cloud? Who are these individuals? The guys you have aren’t cutting it, Mr. Cole. How about recruiting some people who display a sound mind in the scoring of fights? Until that happens, fighters should exercise extreme caution before venturing into the Longhorn State with hopes of furthering their careers.

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