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Another Injustice For Boxing

Image Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

NEW YORK — Injustice and questions about a Showtime Championship Boxing title fight Saturday evening. Another dark eye for the sport with controversy. How many times have we heard about injustice rendered in the ring?

This time, though, Rolando “Rolly” Romero was granted a gift and the vacant WBA Super Lightweight championship, a ninth-round TKO against 40-year old Ismael Barroso, (El Tigre, Venezuela). Barroso, the replacement opponent for Alberto Puello, who previously held the WBA 140-pound title, had been stripped of his title because of a failed VADA drug test.

And the questions about referee Tony Weeks. He stopped the bout and obviously there were no clean punches landed. Romero was also credited with a knockdown earlier in the round and it was an obvious shove. The injustice, a fight that should not have been stopped.

Injustice more, because Barroso was leading on all three scorecards of the judges, 78-73, 77-74, 76-75, an obvious path to a potential victory and first major championship for the veteran southpaw.

But as is so many times in boxing, you can call this highway robbery. Better stated, injustice and leading to more questions about accountability of the referee, Nevada State Athletic Commission and the “Sweet Science.” Weeks, a veteran official, and officials of the Nevada Commission have not issued a statement and were not available for comments.

Comments and answers that need to be addressed, then again, this is not the first time a championship fight in Las Vegas has ended with controversy via a decision or preliminary stoppage that was unjustified. This time it was in a ring at the Chelsea inside the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event.

There were immediate flashbacks to another injustice: March 17, 1990 at the Las Vegas Hilton, Hall of Famer and Mexican legend Julio César Chávez vs. Meldrick Taylor. Chávez won when referee Richard Steele stopped the fight with just two seconds remaining in the 12th and final round, controversial because Taylor was leading the fight on two of the judges’ scorecards.

Yes, similarities with the stoppage. And a referee, Steele, who would never regroup and become an esteemed third man in the ring for championship fights. A Nevada State Athletic Commission, highly touted and questions about appointing officials and judges of championship fights. But we all thought that boxing was past all of this as one dark eye after another continues.

Rolando Romero vs Ismael Barroso – Image Credit: PBC

And again controversy in the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas, the gambling environment and now with online and more accessibility to place a bet. The outcry after this stoppage, was the fix in? Was the referee all in on this outcome?

I am not accusing or implicating Tony Weeks, who is now the center of controversy, but he is not looking good here. Social media and followers of boxing are suspicious and asking for answers. Just look at the replay and notice Barroso still had that fight in him.

Rolando Romero vs Ismael Barroso – Image Credit: PBC

And until we get a viable response from the Nevada commission or the referee, this fight that had significance, will go down as one of those all-time controversial outcomes.

The PBC has also been silent about the controversy. I have reached out to officials of the PBC and the commission, as expected no response and that is typical with the circumstances at hand. Though in due time a statement will be released and would not doubt a bogus investigation will ensue.

Perhaps a rematch is the proper approach, though Romero, in his first fight at junior welterweight, said he wants his next opponent to be Ryan Garcia or with Gervonta “Tank” Davis. Last May, Davis easily defeated Romero for the WBA Lightweight title at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY that was televised on Showtime.

But the attention is on the latest controversy that never seems to cease with a sport that needs positive attention and not the negative.

“I think it was an injustice to stop the fight,” said Barroso. “I was landing the better shots. It was a push on the first knockdown. It wasn’t a big blow or anything. The referee just stopped the fight, and he didn’t say anything. You can see it clearly. I’m the one who’s hitting him. There was nothing clear that he hit me with. I don’t understand why they stopped the fight.”

Barroso outlanded Romeo, 57-40, and threw 297 punches to 230 for Romero.

Romero was dropped by a strong Barroso left hand in the waning seconds of the third round as Romero touched the canvas for just the second time of his career as he was also knocked out by a Gervonta Davis left in his last fight a year ago.

Rolando Romero vs Ismael Barroso – Image Credit: PBC

Saturday was the latest escapade, but now is the time and not later for the Nevada State Athletic Commission to provide a viable explanation. Barroso deserves a rematch and Romero needs to consent to meet him again.

Boxing needs to get this right, if not the sport continues to receive that dark eye. And boxing purists like me, and those who want to become fans, will be the judge and find other means to be entertained.

Rich Mancuso Co-Editor and Senior Writer Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso.

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