By Jake Donovan
Julio Ceja had no problem conceding hometown advantage to Jamie McDonnell, so long as their fight this Saturday in Doncaster, England would take place on an otherwise level playing field.
There is now concern for that not being the case.
The promise of neutrality is being questioned by the Ceja camp after the IBF – whose vacant bantamweight title is at stake in the bout – released the names of the officials for this weekend’s contest.
“We will file a formal protest to the IBF Chairman Committee,” promised Oswaldo Kuchle, Ceja’s promoter. “Geographically, the judges and referee assigned to the (fight) are not neutral. One judge and (the) referee are from UK and only one (judge is) from Mexico.”
The referee for the contest is Howard Foster, who like from McDonnell hails from Doncaster. Foster has also served as a judge for two of McDonnell’s bouts among his last four fights.
Dave Parris – who hails from Leeds – is one of the three ringside judges appointed to the bout. The other two judges are Alfredo Polanco of Mexico and Holger Wiemann – the lone neutral judge who currently resides in Berlin, Germany.
Should the fight still go on as planned, it will serve as the first title fight for either contestant.
McDonnell (20-2, 9KO) comes in riding a 12-fight win streak that dates back to 2008. His most recent victory – an 8th round stoppage of Darwin Zamora – earned him the title shot as the sanctioning body’s leading contender.
Ceja (24-0, 22KO) backed into a title shot after Leo Santa Cruz vacated to campaign in the 122 lb. division. The 20-year old knockout artist positioned himself for a potential shot after picking up a regional title last summer. His credentials were validated after tearing through former title challenger Luis Melendez last November.
The bout marks Ceja’s first trip outside of Mexico, though cable giant Televisa is still along for the ride. The network will provide same day coverage of the title fight, should the aforementioned issue reach resolution between now and Saturday.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox