By Lem Satterfield
The promoter of southaw three-time titlist Paul Williams called BoxingScene.com on Monday to share his thoughts on Saturday night's controversial junior middleweight majority decision victory by Williams over previously unbeaten southpaw rival Erislandy Lara at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Ringside judges Al Bennett, Hilton Whitaker and Don Givens, respectively, scored the fight at 114-114, 115-114, and, 116-114, the last two having it in favore of Williams (40-2, 27 knockouts).
Meanwhile, ringside reporters Dan Rafael of ESPN and Robert Velin of USA Today each scored the fight at 116-112 for the 28-year-old Lara (15-1-1, 10 KOs).
Giving it to Lara by 117-111 were ringsiders Lem Satterfield of BoxingScene.com, Keith Idec of The North Jersey Record and Mike Coppinger, a freelancer for USA Today, Ring Magazine and BoxingScene.com.
HBO's ringside scorer Harold Lederman also had it 117-111 for Lara, and HBO commentators Roy Jones and Max Kellerman each told BoxingScene.com that they had Lara winning nine rounds to three.
Goossen, however, said that he believed that boxing reporters' discussions of the fight action as well as those of commentators are subject to influence their decisions. Goossen also asserted that separation of official judges leads to more individualistic if not more credible scoring of the action in the fight.
Lara repeatedly landed a left hand on Williams, a successful imitation of November's sensational effort by southpaw WBC emeritus middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 27 KOs), whose powerful left hand knocked out Williams in the second round of his previous bout also at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.
Blood dripped from cuts around Williams' eyes as well as from his nose and mouth after the fight, while Lara's lone injury was a golf ball-sized lump over the are above his left eye and temple that was ruled to have been caused by an accidental clash of heads.
Goossen also took issue with what he considered to be inappropriate ringside conduct by Kellerman and Jones, in particular their on-air questioning of whether or not Williams should retire.
Lara was coming off of March's draw with Carlos Molina (19-4-2, six KOs), who won a unanimous decision victory over two-time champion Kermit Cintron (32-4-1, 28 KOs) on Saturday night.
BoxingScene.com: Your thoughts on the fight?
Dan Goossen: Well, what I wanted to take a look at the replay, because when I sat at ringside, you know, I obviously scored the fight. And when I say that I scored it, I had a general idea where I thought that we were. It was a fight that I believe that when the bell rang, having given Paul the 12th round, in my eyes, I thought that we had won the fight.
Having said that, I would not have called it a robbery if the fight had been called a draw or if Erislandy Lara had been given a close decision victory. It was that type of fight. What I wanted to find out about was the lopsided scores of 117-to-111. YOu know what? The reporters and the guys at ringside are sitting there and they're talking to one another as the fight is going on.
And, you know, that's pretty much what happens with [HBO's] on-air talent. So everyone kind of is the same page and they're going back and forth concerning what they're seeing.
I sat back last night and watched the fight on television and I reviewed the fight. I'm not good at speaking in defense of our fighter if I feel that the other man was robbed. I would just shut my mouth and not say anything. I don't care about what the people think at ringside, or how many texts are received or what the scores are from the HBO announcers.
When you've got the ability to speak amongst yourselves, or listen to people speaking about what they're seeing, you're more inclined to think that way. Whereas when you've got three judges sitting there by themselves, with no one's opinion influencing their heads but their own, it's the same as when I'm sitting there.
I don't ask my wife how she's scoring it. I don't ask my wife or anyone else -- including [Williams' adviser] Al Haymon -- what they think. I'm stoic and watching the action and creating my own thought process.
BoxingSCene.com: What were your thoughts after having watched the fight again?
DG: Watching the fight again, I was very much where I was the night of the fight. I had it seven rounds to five for Williams. Again, I notice that the official judges second round, two of them gave it to Lara, one of them gave it to Williams, and I gave that round to Williams. Williams was not only the aggressor, but more effective.
He was hitting Lara throughout that round except for one punch that Lara threw that pushed Paul back. Other than that, it was Paul's whole round. Okay? Even a round in the later rounds that I know that Harold Lederman scored for Lara with what looked like at the time -- it could have been the ninth or the 11th round I forget, but one of the later rounds.
The announcer was like, 'Oh my God, he wobbled Williams,' or, 'He's staggered.' But the replay, after all of that, showed that it was a jab that Williams was off balance on, and they even mentioned that Paul was off balance. In the 12th round, two of the officials' scorecards had it a draw, and the other one had given it to Lara.
I thought that Williams won the 12th, one of the two times that myself and Lederman saw a round the same way. Lederman also had Paul winning the 12th. The key with these officials is that they were all sitting by themselves and not discussing what was happening in front of them with any of the ringside media or with the announcers.
They were coming to their own conclusions, which all three of them were all in the same ballpark. I think that that says volumes.
BoxingScene.com: Any other complaints?
DG: Here is the problem that I have with what happened that night that I didn't see or hear until I watched the replay. And that's how an announcing team can sit there and denigrate our sport to the levels that they did. They did it based upon what they believed that they were seeing.
We would have been better off as a sport to have representatives of the American Medical Association who have been trying to ban boxing for 100 years. We would have been better off with them sitting there at ringside announcing this fight on Saturday. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of our announcers. I dont' mind them exclaiming what they believe is a winner of the round.
What I've got a problem with is them saying, 'This is why boxing is where it's at.' You dont' like it? Get out. Another thing is in the seventh or eighth round, going to Paul Williams' corner and asking ludicrous questions. They asked the ludicrous question during the progression of a fight which they've already got Paul Williams losing by a landslide.
They asked the question to George Peterson, 'Will you persuade Paul to retire if he losses this fight?' That was in the seventh or eighth round. If you're going to be in someone's corner, talk about the fight. Did they ever go into Arturo Gatti's corner and ask his trainer if he was going to retire if he lost? Because Arturo lost plenty, but he gave us a lot of exciting nights after those losses.
BoxingScene.com: Anything else?
DG: Well, then to hear the cries of Paul's demise and his health. He was the most coherant man after the fight. He didn't stumble when Max Kellerman asked him the first major question.
Max Kellerman asked him about his trainer, George Peterson, saying that he needed a knockout. What did Paul Williams say right off of the bat? He said, 'Hey, he'll say a lot of things for motivation.' That's what trainers do, quite frankly. But that dosen't mean that you're losing. It means that if you need a knockout, that's to make sure that there are no questions asked.
But even if they went into it that George Peterson thought they were losing, Paul had the best answer of all: It was motivation.