by Cliff Rold
Nothing has changed since Saturday.
Lingering like the aftertaste of the most wretched vomit in the wake of one too many shots, the real question is whether it was really Brandon Rios getting an absurd decision win over Richard Abril. Was that really what angered so many, what set the social networking hordes to thumbing their keys in angers?
Or is it the context of recent history. Boxing has always had bad decisions. Let’s make no mistake. Hopes to see a day where everyone agrees on every call, or where the egregious is no more, are fanciful.
That doesn’t mean every effort shouldn’t be made to shame them into dark corners. This year has already seen Gabriel Campillo-Tavoris Cloud, Carlos Molina-James Kirkland, and the almost-screwing of Orlando Salido against Juan Manuel Lopez. All featured jaw dropping officiating, scoring, or both.
And it’s only freaking April. Rios-Abril is more a straw breaking the camel than a whole bale.
If anything good can be said about Rios-Abril, it’s that if you’re going to hose someone, it does the least harm to the sport when it’s in front of a sparse crowd in Vegas on a pay-per-view with a buyrate of pray to break even.
Or does that make the stench even more boiled egg crushed and left in the car too long? Why that last Jell-O shot?
There have been interesting arguments about the fight, about Abril’s holding in particular. It was certainly a factor, but far too much has been made of it. It wasn’t that distracting on first view and arguments that it ever merited a point deduction, given how clinching is typically treated, are laughable. On the Jack Johnson or Muhammad Ali scale, its score would register pedestrian.
Abril held, got warned early, and started standing in the pocket and picking shots with his shoulders and arms more than clinching and spinning. That made far more of a difference in the outcome. Rios would throw his left hand over and over and have nothing to show for it but the sound of Abril’s blocking glove being abused.
Abril also was on point with counter rights and sneaky uppercuts. The jab-right hand from range was effective as well. Abril basically outboxed Rios in every way he could Saturday and had more of a case for a shutout then he did for losing even six rounds.
And yet Jerry Roth saw Rios win eight rounds, the lesser of the two scores turned in for Rios Saturday (Glen Trowbridge was all of one round better). The opinion here: that’s one hell of a bad night at the office.
Rios, clearly not at his best after a struggle to make weight, often held himself in the second half, reaching around with the right while trying to dig to the body with the left. He also landed his share of rabbit punches while trying like hell to break through a defense that befuddled him.
It bears pointing out: Rios might not have fought smart, but he fought hard. Animosity towards the decision need not be animosity towards the fighter. Sure, he might have mouthed off in the aftermath, but if that’s what it takes to get fights like Rios-Acosta and Rios-Antillon, so be it. He is still, of the two men in the ring Saturday, the far more sellable and watchable fighter.
He was also the loser Saturday.
And that’s not okay. Not in the wake of all the other garbage we’ve seen (and almost seen) in less than four months. Not on its own.
Boxing fans, the ones who watch when Mayweather and Pacquiao are not fighting, are a special pack. They have hung around while seeing the people they can talk fights with shrink over the years. Bad decisions, the impression that boxing isn’t conducted in a fundamentally fair fashion, have been a big part of that.
Imagine trying to bring a new fan on board or return an old stalwart to the fold in the last few months.
Imagine the laughter if they’d come for, say, Campillo-Cloud, as they shake their heads thinking, ‘same old sh…’ and head for the door with a “just call me when Mayweather is on.”
Boxing fans love boxing. They have to in order to accept it as it is because, really, it’s not going to change much. Given the limited schedules out there and increasing island affect of multiple specialized markets, it might get worse. We stick around through a battering of reason and insults to the eyes for the glimpses of brilliance that stand apart.
The Corrales-Castillo moments, the Douglas-Tyson memories.
Sometimes, it is so hard not to hate this sport.
But it remains even harder to look away. We take two aspirin, sleep it off, and get ready for the next round.
For complete coverage of the fight: http://www.boxingscene.com/theft-smears-richard-abril-brandon-rios-marquez-wins--51794
And for what it’s worth…
Pre-Fight: Speed – Rios B; Abril B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Rios B+; Abril B-/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Rios B-; Abril B+/Post: C-; A
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Rios B+; Abril B+/Post: B; A
Report Card Picks 2012: 14-3 (This number is mis-leading as, more than once this year, the report cards have picked the wrong guy going in and the judges have picked the wrong one going out. Still, 14-3 is pretty so it sticks).
Jr. Middleweight: Inactive for over a year, with nothing scheduled, Sergiy Dzinziruk is removed from the top ten. Everyone below moves up a slot. Vanes Martirosyan re-enters at the bottom.
Jr. Welterweight: Mike Alvarado gets a mild bump up in weight while Juan Manuel Marquez, who won some belt or another last weekend, arrives at 140 and enters the top ten. Brandon Rios may have gotten a gift last weekend but he’ll have to really win above 135 to crack the top ten here.
Lightweight: This is where the big changes are. Rios, who missed weight for his second straight fight, can be assumed finished at Lightweight and is removed. Michael Katsidis lost a fight at 140 and, given recent struggles, exits as well. Inactive for a over a year, and with his next fight scheduled at Welterweight, Robert Guerrero joins them. John Molina, Hank Lundy, and Kevin Mitchell enter with new room.
Strong consideration was also given to rendering the Lightweight title itself vacant. Marquez has not defended since late 2010 and, by all indications, will not be back at Lightweight. However, given the respect granted title lineage here, we are waiting just a hair more. Ring Magazine is trying to get an official call from the Marquez camp. Barring that, if and when Marquez signs his next fight at 140, that will trigger his removal here.
Strawweight: While there are no changes, fans should be alert to a signed June unification clash between Kazuto Ioka and Akira Yaegashi. This could be a Fight of the Year contender and marks the first unification clash at 105 lbs. since the days of Ricardo Lopez.
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Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org