I’ve been looking for the following video for the past few days. It is the highlights of a fight which occurred last Saturday night between Paul Williams and Kermit Cintron. This fight had one of the most bizarre endings of any sporting event I have ever witnessed, but I won’t explain it here. Just press play.
So there you have it, a fight ending after a boxer injures himself by falling out of the ring. Only in boxing would something like this happen. I can remember something similar happening once before, in a fight between Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellan in 1993 or so, but on that occasion Benn got up (with the help of ITV’s ringside reporter Gary Newbon), returned to the ring and indeed on the fight (in tragic circumstances).
This fight, thankfully, didn’t have anything like that impact on the health of either participant but nonetheless, it will hurt the reputation of the sport in a different but nonetheless profound way. Now, accidents happen. They cannot be avoided, despite the many steps taken to do just that. However one such step which was not taken by the organisers of Saturday’s event in California was the standard of the ring. The ropes were not properly tied together. Had this simple measure been applied, then there’s no way that Cintron would have hit the floor.
The big farce however is not the fact that Cintron plunged through the ropes, disappointing as that was, but what happened afterwards. The incident occurred in the fourth round of the fight, and had it occurred anywhere but California then the fight would have been declared a no contest. Indeed (though not shown in the above video) referee Lou Moret initially said that would be the resolution. However, for reasons unclear to this particular writer, this decision was changed and it was decided that the thirty-odd seconds seen above constituted a fourth round, and that the result of the fight would be decided by the ringside judges. Their scoring was farcical. One gave all four rounds to Williams while another also scored the fight 40-36, albeit in favour of Cintron. The other judge gave the fight to Williams in a score of 39-37, but even this seemed wrong. Cintron was denied the win through little fault of his own. TV viewers, writers and indeed those in attendance were given the most unsatisfactory of endings, one that leaves boxing tarnished when it’s really not what the sport needs.
I love boxing, more than any other sport in the world. However, there are occasions such as Saturday in which the sport does little to help itself. For a sport which needs to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of the general public, moments like this are unwanted. It should have been a fight which entertained and enthralled one and all. Instead, it’ll end up on ‘What happened next’ sections of TV quiz shows. On a night when it should have been at its best, boxing has again shot itself in the foot.