By Lem Satterfield
Luis DeCubas Jr., the manager of junior middleweight contender Erislandy Lara, shared his thoughts with BoxingScene.com concerning the recent suspensions of the three judges by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board as a result of their roles in the scoring of Saturday night's controversial majority decision loss by Lara to fellow southpaw Paul Williams at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
The 29-year-old Williams (40-2, 27 knockouts) was awarded an unpopular decision over the 28-year-old Lara (15-1-1, 10 KOs), thanks to the cards of Hilton Whitaker and Don Givens, who had it 115-114, and, 116-114, respectively, for Williams, with Al Bennett scoring it a 114-114 draw.
BoxingScene.com had it 117-111 for Lara, as did Keith Idec of the North Jersey Record and HBO's unofficial scorer Harold Lederman.
ESPN's Dan Rafael and USA Today's Bob Velin each had it had 116-112 for Lara, and HBO commentators, Max Kellerman and Roy Jones gave Lara nine rounds and only three for Williams, who faced a disadvantage in overall punches landed, 224-to-200, and, power shots, 178-to-161.
In a letter from New Jersey Control board commissioner Aaron Davis that is dated July 13, 2011, Williams' promoter, Dan Goossen, and Lara's promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, were notified of the indefinite suspension of all three judges.
Indicating that Bennett, Whitaker and Givens will be required to undergo additional training upon returning to boxing, Davis also noted that his agency found no evidence of corruption, but acknowledged that his it "did not provide our best officiating on July 9.”
DeCubas contends that Lara should be treated as if he won the fight and be granted an automatic rematch with Williams that would be supported by HBO.
The winner of a rematch, said DeCubas, could be in line to face southpaw WBC middleweight emeritus champion Sergio Martinez (47-7-2, 27 KOs), who stopped Williams in the second round in November.
Martinez-Williams II was a return bout of a December, 2009 majority decision victory by Williams in a fight that featured each of the boxers being floored in the first round.
If Williams-Lara II doesn't happen, said DeCubas, Lara could seek title bouts opposite junior middleweight belt-holders Cornelius Bundrage (31-4, 18 KOs), Saul Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 KOs) or southpaw Sergei Dzinziruk (37-1, 23 KOs), respectively, of the IBF, WBC and WBO.
Lara entered his clash with Williams coming off of a March 25 majority draw with tough, Mexican-born Carlos Molina (19-4-2, six KOs), who improved his unbeaten streak to 11-0-1 with two stoppages following Saturday night's upset unanimous decision victory over former champion Kermit Cintron (32-4-1, 28 KOs).
BoxingScene.com: What is your reaction and how do you feel about the judges' suspensions by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board?
Luis DeCubas Jr.: My first reaction is that this is one step forward in the right direction. Obviously, those three guys should never judge another fight in the history of boxing, period. Not just in New Jersey or anywhere else. I think that Aaron Davis is trying to clean up a little bit of the mess.
It's still uncalled for having these three guys who have no experience judging a fight of this magnitude. Look, Erislandy Lara's glad that this has happened, but it still doesn't give him the 'W.' It's never been done in the history of boxing for something like this, but it should be switched over to a no-contest.
And you know what? Let's do it again. Let's go right back and do it again. But the reality is that I've gotten so many calls, and we've been on the radio in Miami and everything about this fight since this has happened. And every fan is saying the same thing: 'Don't give Paul Williams a rematch.' They say that he doesn't deserve it.
That's what we hear a lot. But if it's me, I'm like, 'Guys, you know what?' The fairest thing to do a rematch. But the Williams camp wants no part of it. The reality is that Paul Williams doesn't want to get busted up again. But that's not a big deal for us. We'll move forward.
Everyone knows who won the fight. By suspending these three juges, I think that it states very clearly who won the fight. And, you know what, we'll move on to bigger and better things. Paul Williams is in the rear-view mirror. I mean, we basically disposed of him for about 10 out of the 12 rounds on Saturday night.
BoxingScene.com: The controversy notwithstanding, do you feel as if there was a silver lining to the fact that so much attention has been paid to this fight that Erislandy Lara has in fact lifted himself to another level?
LDJ: Oh, yes, 100 percent. It was the first big stage for a kid who only had 16 fights coming in. For him to perform the way that he did in that type of atmosphere and for his first time fighting on HBO?
To face and in fact beat a guy like Paul Williams who has been rated as one of the top fighters pound-for-pound by Ring Magazine for a very long time? That's incredible. I mean, you've got guys like Canelo Alvarez, who has got 40 fights, and he wouldn't go 10 feet near a ring with Paul Williams around or against any of the top guys like him.
But this kid Lara just said, 'You know what? So what?' For a guy with less than 20 fights, Lara proved that he's one of the top fighters in the world.
BoxingScene.com: Do you feel vindicated by this decision?
LDJ: I don't feel vindicated. There's no need to be vindicated because the kid should have just gotten a decision that night. I think that they did him wrong. Honestly, no decision other than flipping the score around and giving Lara a unanimous decision would be complete vindication. Since they came out with this, then maybe they ought to just tell the truth.
Maybe they just ought to say that the scorecards were messed up and give it to Lara. The only vindication for Lara would be to be treated like the winner by HBO. HBO, when they televise his next fight, should treat him like the winner. That's all that we ask. I think that's the only way to do it. I think that HBO and it's announcement team did a great job that night.
Max Kellerman couldn't have been more straight to the point about what he thought of the fight. I think that Lara should be treated like the winner. He beat a legitimate guy on a legitimate night. And he got robbed. This kid flew from Cuba to Brazil and he got taken back. So he got robbed of his freedom one time already.
And then he had to come back another time just for these types of opportunities. And then he gets robbed by these three individuals? It's not right what they did to this kid.
BoxingScene.com: How is the fracture near his left eye from the hematoma that resulted from what was ruled an accidental clash of heads?
LDJ: The swelling has almost gone down completely. So it's getting better. [Trainer] Miguel Diaz did an unbelievable job controlling the swelling over that eye. I can't put it into words what Miguel did in that corner. The fracture still is there. I mean, it will be a few weeks. Five weeks, six weeks.
Then he will just start doing a little conditioning work and start running around and doing some conditioning things. We hope to get into the ring at the end of the year and to put on another great performance for the fans.
You know, this kid had a lot to prove and a lot on his back coming off of the draw against Carlos Molina. People weren't giving Molina the credit that he deserves as a fighter, because he's a very good fighter himself.
Now, Lara has taken the monkey off of his back. He put on a great performance, and now he's got to look forward to maybe winning a world title at the end of the year if Williams doesn't want the rematch. I would have to go back to the kid, though, on that, because Lara feels as if Williams doesn't deserve a rematch at all.
BoxingScene.com: Do you feel like Carlos Molina's performance against Kermit Cintron was a statement about the kinds of guys Erislandy Lara has been facing?
LDJ: Yes, 100 percent. It just shows that Molina is a legitimate guy too. And Lara wasn't 100 percent for the Molina fight, physically or mentally. But I still think that he beat Molina six rounds to four. The way Molina beat the sh*t out of Kermit Cintron just shows you that this guy couldn't do that with Lara. If Lara is 100 percent against Molina, he beats him easily.
BoxingScene.com: Would you consider any of the other champions in the junior middleweight division?
LDJ: We've talked about Sergei Dzinziruk, who just lost to Sergrio Martinez, and who is a very good champion. But he's never lost at 154 pounds. We're looking at Cornelius Bundrage. We would love to fight Canelo Alvarez, but Golden Boy is not going to put that kid anywhere near Lara.
It's really a crying shame about that, because they're both with the same promoter. But their two of the top 154-pounders, so why not let them fight? Golden Boy's protecting him, but that's not a big deal. We're just going to keep going through these guys like a hot knife through butter.
Sooner or later, Canelo Alvarez is just going to have to face us or else leave the division real soon. If HBO doesn't want to treat us like the winner, then let's do the rematch with Williams and the winner gets Martinez.
What bigger fight than that? We could fight in December. Martinez is obligated to fight in December. I've spoken to [Martinez's adviser] Sampson [Lewkowicz] several times. Let's let the winner of a rematch between Lara and Williams fight Martinez. If Williams is good enough to beat Lara, then he's good enough to get back to Martinez. And if not, let Lara fight Martinez.