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Sharkie's Machine April 21, 2002
Why Bother Fighting the Fights? Just ask the judges…
by Frank Gonzalez
Saturday night at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather Jr. faced WBA Lightweight Champion Jose Luis Castillo for the 135 pound title…Castillo’s title. Floyd’s 130-pound title however, would not be on the line, only Castillo’s. The fight was televised by HBO. If the Judges decided that Castillo would win, he would only be retaining his title and not gaining one from titleholder Floyd Mayweather Jr. Hey, that’s fair, right?
Before the fight began, HBO’s Jim Lampley and George Foreman discussed hand injuries with references to Floyd’s recent hand problems. They said that Mayweather has been known to use hand-injected painkillers like Xylocaine, which is illegal in some states. Such painkillers could be more dangerous in the long term, since fighters with numbed hands hit harder since they cannot feel their hands at a time when they could be unknowingly damaging them. A smug Floyd Mayweather sat in pink sunglasses and elaborated on the pain he felt shoot down his spine from hand pains in the Hernandez fight. I’ve seen most of Mayweather’s fights; he tends to jump into punches. That style of punching contributes to his hand troubles. But Floyd has shown enough talent in the ring to compensate when the need arrives.
“Pretty Boy” is an HBO contracted fighter and the announcing team did their job in presenting him with charm. Floyd is trained by his uncle Roger Mayweather and comes from a Boxing family. Jose Luis Castillo also comes from a Boxing family. His father fought over 100 professional fights in his career and his brother is also a fighter. Castillo was a long-term sparring partner for former legendary champion, Julio Cesar Chavez.
Like most professional fighters these days, both Castillo and Mayweather have fought their share of easy, stat-padding fights against aged B and C class fighters. A professional fighter’s career really begins somewhere after the 15th to 20th fight, where they start fighting opponents with good records and better. Floyd ruled the 130-pound division, even though he never fought Acelino Freitas or Joel Casamayor and refused to fight Stevie Johnston, who’s always wanted to fight Mayweather. But the politics of prizefighters and their promoters is a fishy business. It doesn’t facilitate the best fight match ups that fans want to see. It carefully selects matches that can make the most money. Stevie Johnston was not as good an investment as the Jose Luis Castillo fight would be for Floyd. Voices under the table whisper that Castillo was selling his title to Mayweather, who was moving up from 130 to 135 pounds, for his biggest payday ever. Too bad Castillo didn’t feel that way.
* * *
Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather entered the ring in dapper fashion, donning a white, gold and black trim leather ensemble. The word GRANT blared from the waistline of his trunks. He was the challenger tonight and was introduced first.
Jose Luis ‘El Terrible’ Castillo entered wearing typical Mexican colors with the word Sonora on the backside of his waistband in honor of his homeland. As the referee, Victor Draculich gave the instructions, Roger Mayweather, Floyd’s trainer, interrupted to say, “Keep ‘em up.” Pointing at the beltline of Floyd’s trunks. Both fighters were good sportsman, touched gloves and started the fight.
Mayweather landed the first punch. Castillo hardly did anything in the first round as he threw about 25 punches and landed only three. Floyd dominated the first two rounds as Castillo rarely jabbed and didn’t follow up when opportunities presented themselves.
Castillo started showing signs of life deep in the second round. As a commentator for HBO as well as a former fighter, I found it strange that George Foreman wouldn’t pronounce Castillo’s name properly. He kept calling him Castell. It was annoying. As a well-paid professional, wouldn’t you at least take a minute to learn to say the fighter’s name correctly? How would George have liked it if when he was fighting, Howard Cosell had referred to him as Foolman instead of Foreman? I wonder.
In the third round, Floyd came on strong, but Castillo came to life mid-way through the round and took over. I scored that round even. In the fourth, Castillo continued to mount pressure on Mayweather, who punched on the run. JLC kept hitting on the break and after the bell, drawing a warning from Draculich. Castillo really started to turn the fight in his favor in the fifth, and although Mayweather at times out boxed him, he got off the more telling shots. The sixth and seventh rounds belonged to Castillo, who pressed Mayweather aggressively and won those rounds. Mayweather did a lot of running as the fight progressed. In the eighth round, Castillo was winning but lost a point for hitting on the break after multiple warnings, forcing a 9-9 round instead of 10-9 in his favor. The ninth round was all Castillo, whose ring generalship and power punching won the round. At the end of the ninth round, Mayweather hits Castillo after the bell, the referee looked as though he was going to take a point away from Floyd, but didn’t.
In the 10th round, with Castillo pressing Floyd with body shots and power, Mayweather took to using his elbow and was warned a few times and by the end of the round, had a point taken for it. I was amazed that Floyd was actually disciplined, since he was the favorite and is HBO’s darling.
In the 11th round, Roger Mayweather instructed Floyd to stand and punch, perhaps an indication that his trainer was concerned that Floyd may have been behind at that late point in the fight. Castillo dominated Mayweather in that round. I never saw Floyd look so overwhelmed. He was losing the fight. In the final round, Castillo seemed full of energy and was out working Mayweather, scoring with the heavier handed shots and ultimately winning the battle and the war. As the last bell rang, both fighters continued to brawl and had to be separated by Draculich. They both raised their hands in victory.
Without a knock out to settle things, HBO went to the scorecards.
The Judge’s scores read as follows:
John Keane of England – 115-111 for Mayweather
Jerry Roth of Nevada- 115-111 for Mayweather
Anek Hongtongkam of Thailand-116-111 for Mayweather
Harold Lederman of HBO had it-115-111 for Castillo.
All the announcers, including Foreman had Castillo ahead.
My score was 116-111 for Castillo.
The Punch Stats:
203 Thrown 157
506 Landed 448
40% Percentage 35%
Power Punching Stats:
173 Landed 66
377 Thrown 151
46% Percentage 44%
The audience booed the decision while Jim Lampley mentioned that he didn’t know what fight they (the Judges) were watching. He said it wasn’t the first time a decision like this was handed out. I knew it wouldn’t be the last. This is what happens in the absence of a legitimate National Boxing Commission. The Judges are obviously paid by the promoters who tell them how to score the fight regardless what actually happens in the ring.
* * *
As Larry Merchant conducted the post fight interviews, he asked Floyd whether he thought the fight was close toward the end when his corner asked him to stand and punch.
Merchant: In the last few rounds, you received instructions from your corner, your uncle, Roger, saying you had to stand and fight him. Were you under the impression that the fight was very close at that time and that you had to pull it out?
Floyd said, “First, before I even answer that question, I want to say, you know, you know, that GRANT Boxing makes the best Boxing gloves in the business and the best outfits in the business.”
L.M.- “We don’t do commercials.”
F.M.- “Well, you know, but I’m gonna give them some props, of course I know you don’t, but this is my moment to shine. And so let me speak my piece. I want to thank God for this victory. And he was tough. My last training day, I hurt my rotator cuff in my left shoulder, so I couldn’t use my jab the way I want to. My left wasn’t as strong as I wanted it to be, but I didn’t want to have no excuses, you know, like other champions, you know, when they get hurt they won’t even show up to the fight. I get hurt I keep fighting, you know, I want to bring the fans a victory.”
L.M.- “All right now but answer the question. Were you under the impression, given the instructions from your corner, that you really had to stand and fight him in the last two rounds, that it was very, very close?”
F.M.- “Actually, my uncle told me that I was wearing him down, so he told me that, in all the big fights, if you wear a guy down by like around the 10th, 11th or 12th, you know, stand there and break him down. So I wasn’t worried at all, I was out boxing him easily.”
L.M.- “Was he much tougher than you anticipated? You, after all said, this was an easy fight en route to bigger fights.”
F.M.- “You don’t realize, I beat this guy with a messed up arm, my arm is messed up. I don’t have no excuses. I don’t never back down and turn down fights.”
L.M.- “So it was a harder fight than you anticipated, with what you came into the ring with.”
F.M.-“With one arm, yes. If he wants a rematch, we can do it again.”
L.M.- “So are you suggesting that you think, given the fact that a lot of people here believe that he won the fight, that you think you SHOULD give him a rematch?”
F.M.- “This is Boxing, you have ups, you have downs. He was a good fighter, it was a good fight for both of us, it was a good learning experience for me and I’m …I’m looking forward to moving on.”
L.M.- “All right, you moved up in weight and you fought a very strong Lightweight, did you find out it was a little more difficult than you anticipated?”
F.M.- “No, not at all. I fought the best Lightweight, because that’s what I want, exciting fights. So I moved up to fight the best Lightweight they got out there. I took my time and did what I had to do.”
L.M.- “Thank you very much Floyd.”
Then he turned to Jose Luis Castillo.
With Ray Torres as the interpreter, Merchant conducted the interview. Torres is not a good interpreter; he often improvises what the fighter’s say, leaving a misleading impression. I tried to convey what Castillo actually said in spite of Torres’ horrible interpreting.
L.M.- “You seemed shocked by the decision. Did you think you had won the fight easily?”
J.L.C.- “It wasn’t easy, it was a complicated fight, I felt that I out worked him enough to obtain the victory. But the Judges call it like that.”
L.M.-“Did you feel that the Judges sided with him because he’s the favorite, because he comes from Las Vegas, because this is where he works out of?”
J.L.C.- “Yes, I thought so. The Judges are supposed to be impartial, but this time they were not and gave the wrong decision. I thought I won the fight, but I spoke to Bob Arum and he says he will get me a rematch.” (Ray Torres ineptly misinterpreted Castillo saying that Arum had ‘guaranteed’ him a rematch, although Castillo never said that.)
L.M.- “Where did you get that guarantee from?”
J.L.C.- “He (Bob Arum) never said it was guaranteed, but he said most likely we’ll have a rematch.”
L.M. – “Did you feel that your strength overcame his quickness in this fight and that being the aggressor, you were dictating the fight?”
J.L.C.- “Yes, because he felt my punches, they were a little harder than his. I was the stronger fighter.”
L.M.- “Did he ever hurt you at all, and did you hurt him?”
J.L.C.- “One time he caught me with a left hook, it hurt a little bit, but I know I hurt him more.”
L.M.- “Thank you for a wonderful fight, congratulations.”
J.L.C.- “I want to thank HBO for having me on and I hope they will give me an opportunity to have a rematch. Thank you.”
As Jim Lampley said afterwards, “Floyd is a gifted fighter, some may now say he’s more “GIFTED” than ever.” He asked George Foreman whether Floyd could learn as much when they call a win a loss, Foreman totally ignored the question and went into pitch mode.
“What I do know is that Floyd Mayweather can sell Pay Per View. If they make a rematch, this would have to go to PPV. It should be a rematch and it should be on PPV! This is what Mayweather needed for his career. Top Rank better sign him and get a rematch and put it on PPV. This will sell, I guarantee it!” said Foreman.
Foreman must have thought this was one of those commercials for his hamburger grill. His plastered smile belied his sincerity. Why should anyone believe that a rematch on PPV would have honest Judges that would render a fair decision? Who wants to spend $50-$70 extra on their cable bill to see another corrupt decision?
Back in the days when Foreman was fighting, he was a household name because of the exposure he got by having his fights on regular, free TV. PPV is one of the many ills that ail Boxing today. Mike Tyson destroyed PPV with his one round KO’s that people were duped into paying up to $50 to see back then. PPV fights are usually scheduled to start at 9pm but the fight you paid to see does not start until 1:30 in the morning. The fill-in slots are relegated to promote Don King’s other prospects against bums. By the time the main event begins, you have finished all the beer and are ready to fall asleep after all those bad fill-in fights you watched while waiting. If anyone thinks Showtime runs a terrible Boxing program, you should see how badly Don King’s PPV’s are produced.
Advertisers who sponsor fights don’t get the same number of viewers to see their ads when more than half of the fans simply will not buy PPV and view it as a rip-off. It seems that Foreman’s only interest in his suggestion is a kick back from the producers of such events. Naked shamelessness indeed.
* * *
Apparently, the only way to win a fight against a protected contracted fighter like Mayweather is to knock him out cold. Fights that go the distance are subject to the corrupt Judges that usually turn winners into losers and losers into winners. This all discourages the casual fan from tuning in to Boxing as they feel the fights are often fixed. Many of my friends outside of Boxing ask me with an eyebrow raised, “You actually watch Boxing? Aren’t most of the fights fixed? Why do you bother?”
This is a sad day in Boxing. Corrupt individuals like Don Kings, unfortunately, run boxing, and Bob Arums, who are short sighted about how to really rake in the cash. If they were good businessmen, they would find ways to attract more fans to the sport instead of allowing the cheap nonsense that goes on, which only repels potential new fans/customers from tuning in.
In the case of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s GIFT win over Jose Luis Castillo, this is just another black eye for a sport that is losing its credibility more and more each time corruption rears it’s ugly head and spoils what might otherwise have been a thrilling, classic event where the favorite lost to the underdog. Since Floyd Mayweather is supposedly one of the best pound for pound fighters, instead of having the fight, they should have just asked the Judges, who won? Then post the results without wasting time actually fighting. If there were a legitimate National Commission for Boxing, corrupt Judges like Jerry Roth, John Keane and Anek Hongkongtam would be held accountable for such obviously corrupt scoring. Then they might be looking for other jobs, possibly with the Underworld, where they would most qualify.
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