20/20 Hindsight: Houston Home Cooking? Plus Guerrero and Jacobs Look Sharp

It's never boring when big boxing cards are held in Houston, at least recently. It helps that the city has good hometown fighters, and then there's the added fun that comes when controversy breaks out.

In February it was Houston's Rocky Juarez fighting Chris John. I scored that one 116-112 for John and was a bit surprised when all three judges turned in official scores of 114-114. I didn't think that was the worst decision ever, but some of you disagreed.

Before this Saturday's HBO Boxing After Dark card, Paulie Malignaggi suggested he would have to decisively defeat Houston boy Juan Diaz in order to pull out a decision. Since Paulie had virtually no chance of winning by KO, this was an even tougher task, and he didn't get the knockout or the dominating points win he needed.

What he did get was a very close fight that could have gone either way. Our Spartan117 saw it as a draw. HBO's Harold Lederman and Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports liked Malignaggi 115-113. But none of the judges agreed, and Diaz got the unanimous decision.

If only that was the end of the drama. Judge Gale Van Hoy turned in a 118-110 card for Diaz, arguably the most ridiculous score for a televised fight in years. Malignaggi was beside himself after the verdict, and there seems to be a general feeling that something bad went down.

Who's to blame for this foolishness? That depends on who you ask.

Tim Starks of The Queensberry Rules points out that Paulie knew what he was getting into when he signed on. Fellow blogger David Schraub think HBO should speak out against situations like Diaz-Malignaggi, while Iole points the finger at Golden Boy Promotions for creating the conditions that allow it.

Interesting viewpoints all. There's some truth in all of them.

Here's what I know: by itself, I didn't think the John-Juarez decision was horrible. In a vacuum, I still don't. But after what just happened on Saturday, it's not an isolated incident any more.

If I was promoting a boxer with title aspirations, I'd have to think carefully about agreeing to fight someone from Houston in Houston right now. Boxing is hard enough without having to worry about the house edge on top of your opponent.

(As an aside, I don't want to seem like I'm just bashing Houston, because the hometown syndrome can and does happen elsewhere. Montreal comes to mind as another recent example.)

The other two fights on the card had something in common, as both Robert Guerrero and Daniel Jacobs had to dig down and show something while earning victories and continuing their win streaks. Guerrero looked fantastic in the early rounds of his fight with Malcolm Klassen, moving well and letting his hands go. Klassen found something in the middle rounds, though, and The Ghost did a nice job shaking off a cut caused by a headbutt and making sure he didn't let the late rounds go the way of the South African.

Jacobs got the full ten-round tussle from Ishe Smith that I expected, with his veteran foe making things uncomfortable at times. We saw that Danny doesn't need to be the aggressor and that he likes to throw right back after getting hit with a good shot. His defense still needs some tightening up, as Smith landed left hooks throughout the fight.

Just to tie up this post thematically, the judge who gave Daniels a 100-89 win - a shutout since the fight was 10 rounds and Smith was docked a point - also deserves some derision. He (or she) is just lucky that Jacobs unquestionably won the fight and that there was an even crazier scorecard coming later.

Posted by The Franchise

1 comment:

The Dude said...

This reminded me of Wrestlemania X-Seven, when The Rock clearly dominated hometown favorite Stone Cold Steve Austin in the main event - only to be jobbed by the combiled vile forces of Vince McMahon, the ref, and a steel chair. If I were a wrestler fighting a Texas guy in Houston, I would definitely bring Legacy (or better yet, D-X) as my enforcers.