By Jake Donovan
Jose ‘Wonder Boy’ Lopez and Roberto Castañeda waged war on August 16, in a bout featuring multiple knockdowns, point deductions and scorecards that–while reflecting the proper winner–didn’t quite add up to what took place in the ring.
An ongoing investigation being conducted by the Association of Professional Boxing Officials has revealed that tampering may have been involved with the scorecards from the aforementioned super bantamweight bout, in which Lopez escaped with a majority decision.
The three judges–Cesar Ramos, Jose Roberto Torres and Carlos Colon–are being asked for official statements, questioning whether or not the official scorecards were manipulated. Accusations have surfaced involving Puerto Rico Professional Boxing Commission (PRPBC) longtime commissioner Jose ‘Toto’ Peñagarícano, whose alleged actions could lead to a suspension if not outright removal of his current position.
The August 16 bout featured five official knockdowns, or so the official scorecards reflected.
According to the in-ring calls made by referee Roberto Ramirez Sr. – who heads the Professional Boxing Officials organization in Puerto Rico and is assisting in the investigation–Castañeda was dropped in each of the first three rounds, while Lopez appeared to have been dropped a total of four times in round one. The last knockdown in the round came just before the bell, at which point Lopez quickly arose and raced to his stool in hopes of avoiding a knockdown call.
Ramirez Sr. was on the ball, even going so far as to issue a “sitting eight count,” offering the mandatory count while Lopez was on his stool during the one-minute rest period between rounds.
The round was scored 10-7 by all three judges, claiming that the fight could be not scored any lower. Under the unified rules from the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) – under which the Professional Boxing Commission of Puerto Rico serves – rounds are to be scored in accordance with the official in-ring rulings of the referee in charge. Because Lopez was dropped four times and Castañeda once, the round could have been scored 10-6 by all three judges if fought under ABC rules.
Had that been the case, Castañeda would have escaped with a majority draw rather than a loss, with a winning tally on one of the three scorecards. Instead, the final cards of 74-72 (twice) in favor of Lopez and 73-73 allowed the Puerto Rican prospect to escape with his unbeaten record still intact.
According to an interview with El Nuevo Dia, judge César Ramos came forward and admitted that the ringside judges were approached by Peñagarícano to change their opening round scorecards from 10-7 to 9-7.
Where confusion sets in is to the degree of manipulation that was applied.
Ramos claims that while and judge Jose Roberto Torres failed to comply with the illegal request, judge Carlos Colón reluctantly wilted and changed his score.
The official scorecards read by ring announcer Lupe Contreras via open scoring after four rounds had Lopez ahead 36-35 on the cards of Ramos and Torres, and 36-34 on Colón’s card. A video replay of the fight shows Peñagaricano approaching the other two judges during the 6th round, though there is no confirmation beyond hearsay of the conversation that took place.
However, the master score sheet as submitted to the PRPBC shows that Lopez was ahead 36-34 through four rounds, suggesting the opening round scoring was ultimately altered on all three cards.
The PRPBC is awaiting a full report from the Association of Professional Boxing Officials–to include statements from all three ringside judges–before making a final decision.
Allegations stemming from the fight come just months after Peñagaricano was honored by the Puerto Rico Sports and Recreation Department during its annual awards ceremony. Peñagaricano was recognized for more than four decades of volunteer service in his non-paying role as a commissioner. The same awards ceremonies honored Miguel Cotto–whose lead adviser is Gaby Peñagaricano, Jose’s son–as its Fighter of the Year and Felix Verdejo as the island’s Prospect of the Year.
Both were directly involved with the August 16 show, though not at all involved in any of the controversy surrounding the evening’s co-feature bout. Verdejo headlined the show—which was co-promoted by Top Rank and Promociones Miguel Cotto—scoring an eight-round shutout win over Oscar Bravo to roll to 14-0 (10KOs).
Attempts to reach the Peñagaricano family and PRPBC Executive Director Dommys Delgado prior to publish were unsuccessful.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox