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Atrocious behaviour from the WBA

WBA
An investigation into some poor judging uncovers yet another fine mess from the WBA, writes George Gigney

THE World Boxing Association (WBA) now find themselves involved in yet another potential scandal, though this time it has nothing to do with their spurious titles or laughable rankings; it’s something far worse. On Saturday night, Gloria Martinez Rizzo was one of the three judges scoring at ringside for a bout between Gabriel Maestre and Mykal Fox. There was uproar when Martinez Rizzo turned in a score of 117-110 in favour of Maestre when, to most other people’s eyes, Fox had comfortably won the bout. Fox dropped Maestre early in the contest and seemed to control large portions of it. That isn’t the worst of it, though. Corey Erdman, a writer for BoxingScene, then decided to do some digging into Martinez Rizzo and made some disturbing discoveries. A Twitter account that appears to belong to the judge has made some vile tweets over the past few years, directing racist abuse at several public figures, including First Lady Michelle Obama.

There has been no official clarification that the account definitely belongs to Martinez Rizzo or that she wrote the tweets in question, however the account has frequently interacted with the official WBA Twitter account and has been retweeted by the organisation’s president.

In 2019, the WBA named Martinez Rizzo their ‘Judge of the Year’ and, when tweeting about this news, tagged the account that has been tweeting racial abuse. 

While the WBA’s official stance on predicaments like this is unclear, surely she should be suspended while the organisation conducts a thorough investigation into these tweets. Then, of course, there is the issue of actually being able to prove she was the one who wrote those abhorrent comments.

As we have seen in recent months, it’s fairly easy for someone to say their account had been hacked, with no clear way of proving otherwise. 

It was also unveiled that Martinez Rizzo is married to WBA executive Ricardo Rizzo, raising yet more questions about potential nepotism and conflicts of interest. 

So far there has been no word from the WBA in response to the discovery of these tweets, and the account in question has since been deleted. 

Aside from this, Fox dropped a decision in a fight many thought he had clearly won. Promoter Lou DiBella has called for a federal investigation into the WBA’s scoring practices and while that might seem extreme to some, there clearly needs to be some form of action.

Within boxing, the only way issues like this can be resolved is the widespread rejection of organisations like the WBA. Promoters, broadcasters and fighters would all need to be united in turning their backs on these sanctioning bodies. 

In other news, ESPN and later The Athletic both confirmed that, for the third year running, Canelo Alvarez will not fight on Mexican Independence Weekend as was previously planned.  Alvarez was set to return to action on September 18 with unbeaten light-heavyweight Dmitry Bivol the planned target in some sort of catchweight meeting. However, those talks broke down and so Canelo is now intending to box later in the year, apparently sometime in October.

As such, talks have resumed with super-middleweight Caleb Plant, who raised the question over who should really be to blame now that Canelo has had to reschedule his planned September fights for three years in a row.

In fairness, it’s a valid point. Canelo is the sport’s biggest star and now a free agent, so can box on whatever platform he likes. If anything, it should be easier than ever to make fights for him. These are somewhat untested waters for boxing, though, so we’ll have to see how this pans out.

It seems as though undisputed super-lightweight champion Josh Taylor is set for a much-deserved homecoming in Scotland later this year. ESPN are reporting that terms are agreed for him to fight mandatory challenger Jack Catterall on December 18 at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.

Taylor is arguably the UK’s best fighter, pound-for-pound, but has a criminally low profile among more casual fans. Thanks to their new deal with Top Rank, Sky Sports will be airing the fight on these shores, hopefully kicking off a campaign of granting Taylor a lot more exposure.

Podcasts

On a recent episode of his podcast, Hotboxin’, Mike Tyson revealed that his eldest son Amir wants to move into boxing, but only because he wants to fight the likes of YouTuber Jake Paul.

Tyson, as only he can, shut the idea down quickly: “I have my kid, the oldest one, he’s 24. He wants to do this so bad. I said, ‘Man, just chill the f*** out,’” he said. 

“He wants to fight Logan Paul and those guys. He wants to do that. I said, ‘Man, just get a job. Get a real estate license. Just chill out, man. Why can’t you take advantage of your lightweight wealthiness? Just chill.’

“You don’t want none of that heat. I’m telling you. This drives people to commit suicide, getting humiliated in front of millions of people. You gotta be able to take that pressure and heat. Not many people can do it. It seems like a lot of people, but the people doing it is such a small percent. It’s probably one percent.”

Another highlight of the week was Tris Dixon’s chat with trainer Peter Fury on the Boxing Life Stories podcast. Fury, best known for leading his nephew Tyson to the top of the sport in defeating Wladimir Klitschko, is quietly one of the most knowledgeable figures in British boxing and certainly has one of the most compelling stories with a troubled past and a stint in prison.

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