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  Williams vs. Lara:
Judges Reward Activity Over Precision;
Ramos Upsets Shimoda & Undercard Results From Boardwalk Hall

By Tim Donaldson
Photos: "Sugar" Ray Bailey

 

If you did not see the Williams, Lara fight, by now I am sure that you have heard the controversy. With the exception of Paul Williams, no one really seems happy with the results of the fight. Harold Lederman of HBO scored the fight for Erislandy Lara. Max Kellerman, Roy Jones, and Bob Papa all thought that Lara won. However, the official judges at ringside did not see the fight that way. Whitaker and Givens both scored the fight for Williams, while Al Bennett saw the fight as a draw.

Now I am neither surprised that Bennett saw the fight as a draw, nor am I surprised that Whitaker and Givens saw the fight as belonging to Williams. On my own scorecard I had the fight extremely close, seven rounds to five. The only difference is that I had Lara as the winner. After watching my DVR recording of the fight from the HBO telecast, I have since reconsidered many of those close rounds. So why the discrepancy? Let me try to explain. Early in my writing career I covered a fight at the Legendary Blue Horizon. I was seated next to the referee, the one that was not in the ring, of course. Talking to one of the referees during one of the early fights, I had the chance to ask him about judging. He taught me a lot that night. One of the things we had the chance to talk about was how two judges can see things so differently. Part of that conversation centered on the idea that sometimes a judge can be watching a particular fighter too closely, concentrating on every good thing they do while missing what the other fighter is doing.

Is that what happened in this fight? I didn’t talk to the judges, but I know that some on press row even scored the fight for Williams. It’s not that hard to do, especially for a Williams fan.

In the first round Williams came out and threw the first punch. He looked like he was taking control of the fight early. Sure, Williams went down but that was from Lara leaning on him. Of course, Lara did land that first big left hand, but Williams took it like a champ. In the second round Williams appeared to be backing Lara up in the beginning of the round. Again, Lara threw that overhand left, this time staggering Williams, but again Williams survived it. Now Williams was champion, so why shouldn’t I give those rounds to him. He survived those left hands, and he seems to be throwing more. The whole fight pretty much went that way.

Here is the other point. Throughout the fight, Williams was throwing more punches. In fact, Williams threw double the number of punches that Lara threw, over a thousand. Depending on your view, you might have thought that more of them were landing than actually were. In reality, the majority of Williams’ punches were landing on the arms of Lara, or were just plain missing him. Lara was slipping punches through, around, and over Williams’ defenses. Not only was Lara landing more percentage wise, he was landing more period.

Now the only other thing I saw that might have convinced a judge to give one, or more, too many rounds to Williams was the fact that Lara spent most of the fight backing up. Now at first, I thought this was because of the pressure that Williams was putting on Lara. However, as I watched the fight, I realized that this was more due to the strategy of Lara. Lara did not engage when he thought Williams would have the advantage. He would back up, make Williams come to him, and then land one of those big left hands. Too often we, and by we I guess I mean myself, can interpret a fighter who is constantly backing up as a fighter in retreat.

So yes, I can understand the score. Do I agree with the score? Absolutely not. Do I have a solution so that this cannot happen again? No. This is the problem with sports that are scored by people. We humans are subjective, and sometimes we see what we want to see. As long as the judges stay human, we will have this problem. Besides, after the first Williams, Martinez fight, Lara should have known that it was a good bet that he would have to knock out Williams to get that win. He had that opportunity.
 

That is exactly what Rico Ramos did against Akifumi Shimoda. The only real difference is that unlike Lara, Ramos was losing nearly every round before knocking Shimoda out in the seventh round to take the WBA Super Bantamweight title. Shimoda was clearly in control of the fight from the second round on. Ramos seemed to be having trouble fighting a southpaw, and Shimoda by the third round was cutting off the ring. He was doing an even better job of cutting the ring off in the fourth round.

Now Ramos must have sensed that he needed to do something big. By the fifth round, Ramos was being more aggressive. However, Shimoda was able to once again take control of the round. Shimoda was concentrating more on the body in the sixth round. It looked as though this was going to be an easy decision for the judges, or Shimoda’s body shots would eventually wear down Ramos. However, sometimes things just don’t work out like expected. Ramos never gave up. Although Shimoda clearly looked in control of the seventh round, landing several good combinations, Ramos was able to end the fight with one big left. Shimoda went down, stumbled to get up, and was caught by referee Benjy Estevez.
 

The other big knock out of the night came from Jhonny Gonzalez in his WBC Featherweight Title bout against Tomas Villa. This one was not as unexpected as that by Rico Ramos. Gonzalez was clearly in control throughout the fight. He landed the first punch, which could be heard echoing throughout the ballroom. Although Villa tried to keep coming forward and attack Gonzalez, it was Gonzalez who landed combination after combination. Gonzalez throughout the fight landed shots to the head and body. The only time that Villa looked as though he might have the upper hand was in the beginning of the third round. He was able to get off a few good shots before Gonzalez once again took control of the round. At the beginning of the fourth round, Villa came running out at the bell. Gonzalez landed a body shot and Villa went down on a knee. He stood up and started across the ring, only to go back down while spitting up blood on the canvas. Eddie Cotton stopped the fight right then.

Now I thought Chris Arreola would have done more to impress those watching to convince us all that he deserves another shot at that heavyweight title. Although Arreola had little trouble against Friday Ahunanya, he was unable to put him away. Even when Arreola seemed to have Ahunanya in trouble, he would let him off. At times the fight looked like a sparring session. Unfortunately, Ahunanya did not always look like a willing partner. Arreola easily won the fight on all three judges’ scorecards, 100-90, 99-91, 99-91.

The night started with Dennis “Momma’s Boy” Doughlin defeating Phillip McCants by unanimous decision.

In the second fight Thomas “Cornflake” Lamanna won by TKO against Reggie Jenkins. It was Jenkins pro debut.

Cornelius White won by split decision against Dhafir Smith.

Brandon Quarles also won by split decision against Corey Preston.

John Lennox won by TKO against Donnie Crawford.

Finally I would like to add that Roy Jones is an excellent dancer. While Jones, Kellerman, and Papa were waiting to go on air, Roy Jones could be seen dancing to the music playing in the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall. Has Jones done Dancing With the Stars yet?



 

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