By Jake Donovan
It’s normally good news when people are still talking about a fight days after its conclusion – any press is still press, or so goes the theory in most boxing circles.
The brass at Acquinity Sports doesn’t quite feel the same way, at least not with the public perception of Joan Guzman. The former two-division champ is resting in a hospital room, where he was treated for broken bones in his right hand and left leg following his technical split decision loss to Khabib Allakhverdiev last Friday in Sunrise, Florida.
The leg injury came about after Guzman (33-1-1, 20KO) was pushed to the canvas early in round eight. Guzman was unable to move around upon rising but opted to continue. Referee Luis Pabon obliged, only to watch the previously unbeaten Dominican once again fall to the canvas. Following a visit from the ringside physician, the fight was stopped midway through the eighth round.
The difference on the scorecards came down to a rare knockdown suffered by Guzman in round three, giving Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8KO) a 76-75 win on two of the three judges’ final scorecards. Guzman was awarded the same score on the lone dissenting card.
Where Guzman’s team takes exception is with those who insist their fighter benefited from missed knockdown calls. If nothing else, the very nature of his injuries highlights the fight’s rough nature.
“It was a flash knockdown,” says promoter Henry Rivalta of the bout’s lone official knockdown. “The other occasions were clearly pushdowns, and (referee Luis) Pabon acted accordingly. Guzman has a good chin and a lot of heart. He got back up immediately every time he was on the canvas. The only time he didn’t pop back up was in the end, when he was feeling a tremendous amount of pain in his leg and had to be carried out of the ring. He didn’t know until afterwards that it was broken.”
Rivalta also wanted to clear the air on his company’s thoughts regarding the officiating. There were comments made regarding Pabon’s failure to deduct points from Allakhverdiev following two separate warnings for pushing and roughhousing.
It was the belief of Guzman and his team that a point or two should have been taken from the Russian’s tally, but understand and respect the referee’s final call.
“I support the referee in his actions. Could have he taken a point after warning Khabib? I believe so. But it was his prerogative to rule it as he did and we have to respect him. He gave Guzman the option to continue. Guzman was running on adrenaline and like the warrior that he is, said that he wanted to keep fighting.”
The conclusion – however anti-climactic – brought an end to Guzman’s undefeated run, losing for the first time as a pro or amateur since the 1996 Summer Olympics as a member of the Dominican Republic boxing squad. Allakhverdiev remains unbeaten and now bestowed with two major belts.
“(Acquinity CEO) Garry Jonas and I have the utmost respect for Vlad Hrunov, Khabib and his team,” Rivalta insists. “Fortunately for them, they got the decision. We want the rematch and hope that people can give Guzman the proper credit he deserves. People are claiming that he quit, and they just don’t know the truth.”
Guzman will spend the rest of the year on the disabled list. The hope is that he will have something to look forward to upon his return to the ring in 2013.
“We would like to set up a rematch, sometime in May. People have not seen the end of Joan Guzman. He looks good now, other than the bones that need to heal.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox