Last night I watched Paulie Malignaggi fight Juan Diaz in Diaz’s home town, Houston. Paulie is a slick junior welterweight from Brooklyn. He doesn’t have much power and uses his right sparingly because it has been frequently broken. But he is very fast and skillful and entered the bout 27-2, with his only losses to Hatton and Cotto. Diaz, 34-2 going in, is a good fighter and a bright guy; he paid his way through college by boxing and now wants to go to law school.
The fight was a good one. Neither fighter was ever in danger, and the only risk of stoppage came from a bad cut above Diaz’s eye which the referee attributed (absurdly, I thought) to an accidental head butt. (The significance of that is that if the fighter can’t continue, they go to the judges’ scorecards.) I thought Malignaggi won, as did the HBO team. In the photo below, Malignaggi is on the left and Diaz on the right:
Malignaggi worried going into the fight that he could be home-towned. The judges were all from the Texas area and relatively inexperienced. Diaz fights for Golden Boy Promotions, which produced the event.
In the event, Malignaggi’s fears were realized. Diaz was awarded a unanimous decision. One judge scored the fight 10-2 for Diaz, an absurd evaluation of a match in which the official count showed that Paulie landed more punches, he did the only serious damage of the bout, and was stronger at the end. At the post-fight press conference, Malignaggi cut loose and said what he thought about the judging:
My son is Facebook friends with a number of professional fighters, including one who fought on last night’s undercard. He tracked their comments about the fight; they were unanimously outraged by the decision. The Associated Press reported on the fight and noted the controversy without expressing an opinion.
This kind of home-town injustice, especially the lopsided scoring by the judge who appeared to have been watching a different fight, is a key reason why many sports fans find it hard to take the sport seriously.
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