Progress continues to come from a night of in-ring injustice.
The World Boxing Association (WBA) continues to take key steps towards cleaning up the mess created in its interim welterweight title fight between Gabriel Maestre and Mykal Fox. Venezuela’s Maestre (4-0, 3KOs) was awarded a highly questionable twelve-round, unanimous decision verdict and the secondary belt at stake in their August 7 bout that aired live on Fox TV from The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Judges David Singh (114-113), John Mariano (115-112) and Gloria Martinez-Rizzo (117-110) all turned in scorecards in favor of Maestre, each card progressively worse. The outcome caused an uproar, with an overwhelming consensus left to believe that Maryland’s Fox (22-3, 5KOs) did more than enough to win the bout. The WBA has responded in kind, first ordering an immediate rematch, along with declaring the title vacant Thursday afternoon.
“The World Boxing Association (WBA) has declared the Interim Welterweight Title vacant after the controversial decision of August 7 in Minnesota in the fight between Gabriel Maestre and Mykal Fox,” Gilberto Jesus Mendoza, longtime president of the WBA announced both on social media and through an official Resolution letter, while also addressing the rematch which was ordered earlier this week. “No fight will be approved to any of the contenders before the direct rematch fight takes place.
“In case a Purse Bid is necessary, the split shall be 50% Maestre -50% Fox.”
Mere outrage came of the night until the sordid history of judge Martinez-Rizzo was first discovered by BoxingScene.com’s Corey Erdman, exposing a number of racist tweets along with extreme political views.
The Nicaragua-born judge—now based in Florida—has been suspended “indefinitely for violation of Article 9 of the World Boxing Association Code of Ethics due to inappropriate racist statements,” according to Mendoza. “The WBA does not support nor tolerate racism or discrimination in any form. The WBA has always welcomed in its Directorate, Rankings and members in general men and women of all races.
“[Proof] of it was the WBA participation against the Apartheid in South Africa, because it was unfair to harm African boxers in their careers. WBA has always enforced and respect, principles (6 & 10) declared in our Code of Ethics, article 9.01: Oppose and counteract discrimination based on race, nationality, religion, social condition.”
It has been confirmed that none of the three judges who were assigned to the August 7 bout will work the rematch, which was requested by Marshall Kauffman, head of King’s Promotions who represents Fox.
The WBA also vowed to appeal to the Minnesota Office of Combative Sports for the official verdict to be overturned to a No-Contest. While the sanctioning body doesn’t have the authority to overturn a verdict, its powers have been maxed out in stripping Maestre of the interim belt in recognition of the horrific wrongdoing that took place.
BoxingScene.com has since learned that an official appeal has been filed by Fox’s team. An inquiry placed by BoxingScene.com to the Minnesota commission seeking comment was not returned as this goes to publish.
The development comes on the heels of the WBA vowing to minimize the number of titles it has made available per weight division. A wait-and-see approach will be taken by the boxing community; the fact that the interim title will be once again at stake contradicts that movement, along with secondary titles at stake in at least three fights on as many U.S. televised platforms this weekend alone.
Mendoza has mapped out a plan to begin phasing out some of the titles as early as September, citing financial stress in attempting to keep up with the number of recognized beltholders.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox