Editor's letter | Issue | Premium | Sep 03 2019

When WBC boss Mauricio Sulaiman takes the law into his own hands

Matt Christie considers whether WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman was right to intervene in the controversial Edwards stoppage
WBC
Dave Thompson/Matchroom Boxing

A HUGE talking point of last weekend’s bill at the O2 Arena – aside from Vasyl Lomachenko being absurdly good at boxing – was the ruling of Charlie Edwards’ World Boxing Council flyweight championship defence against Julio Cesar Martinez on the undercard as a No Contest. Martinez looked to be on his way to victory in round three before he uncorked a flagrant illegal blow that slammed into the fallen WBC champion’s side and sent him gambolling in pain. Do not underestimate how much that punch would have hurt, either. Even if the Englishman had seen the blow coming, and he couldn’t have done because he was rolled up on the floor nursing the effects of a legal punch that landed seconds before, it would have been agonising. It was little wonder he could not get up to resume battle.

Referee Mark Lyson ruled that Martinez won the fight by knockout. It was announced to the crowd that the rampaging Mexican was the new champion. It was a cruel way to lose a world title but not a massively surprising judgement. After all, illegal blows are extremely common in boxing and all too often ignored, particularly if the fighter landing them is in the ascendancy.

Charlie Edwards
Julio Cesar Martinez lines up that illegal shot Action Images/Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Evidence can be found throughout history. Roberto Duran’s ball-breaking blast to Ken Buchanan in 1972 springs to mind as perhaps the most famous. But there was even evidence on the same night as Edwards-Martinez – in the same arena and in front of the same cameras and the same crowd – as Joshua Buatsi scored with a low blow before halting Ryan Ford in a light-heavyweight bout for a minor World Boxing Association title. Imagine if Mariana Borisava, there as the WBA supervisor, had reached for the microphone and announced that Buatsi’s victory was being struck off the record books. She’d have been laughed out of the arena. But would she have been wrong to do so?