There are two very good reasons not to watch Olympic boxing: the hunt-and-peck, fencing-with-fists style that is as clinical and devoid of excitement as your annual physical (unless you enjoy the hernia check-up), and how the scoring system leads to insanely illogical scoring. The London 2012 Games have been above par on the first excuse, but they hit a new low on the second Sunday.
Readers of this site know I tend to dismiss conspiracy theories about questionable pro boxing decisions without evidence, even if those suspicions are not wholly irrational. The Teymur Mammadov win over Siarhei Karneyeu has bad scoring going for it, and was redolent of corruption besides. There was plenty of horrible scoring elsewhere in the opening leg of the Quarterfinals, in fact, with the right fighter getting the call sometimes, some not.
Heavyweights – 91kg/200.6lb
Teymur Mammadov (Azerbaijan)-Siarhei Karneyeu (Belarus), 19-19: For those not in the know, Azerbaijan came into these Games with a cloud hanging over it due to the pay-for-gold scheme that was alleged of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) then dismissed by same. The 9-4 1st round was suspicious enough, since everyone I saw had Karneyeu winning that one. The 2nd round went 9-6, but only because the referee — who hadn’t apparently been in on the scam prior to the last couple minutes of the fight — gave Mammodov a warning for holding, costing him giving Karneyeu two points. And Karneyeu won the 3rd on everyone’s card I saw, too, with an additional two point deduction shift due to yet another warning. Had Mammadov been DQ’ed for holding in the 3rd, few would’ve protested, but the ref let the holding slide thereafter. And yet somehow, Mammadov and Karneyeu tied, and then Mammadov won it on countback.
There have been outrages in this Olympics, as is typical, but I’m more offended by this than any other. Is it a total coincidence that Azerbaijan funneled $9 million to AIBA-affiliated accounts and not one but two of the nation’s fighters have benefited from absolutely crazy officiatiating/juding? Mammadov was terrible and Karneyeu was much better, even if you throw out the warnings. No rational person thought Mammadov won this one. Some thought Mammadov didn’t win his most recent fight, either. This one has to be overturned. Has to. The problem with pulling off a scam in plain sight is that if it doesn’t pass the smell test, you have to back off it, and nobody told the judges that today. Karneyeu stayed in the ring well after the decision was announced, getting a standing ovation. AIBA must backtrack on this one, like it did with the previous Azerbaijan-related robbery.
Clemente Russo (Italy)-Jose Larduet Gomez (Cuba), 12-10: Were this Greco-Roman wrestling, Russo deseved the victory by far. Since it wasn’t, Larduet did. Russo was getting booed throughout, and when he tried to rally the crowd after, he got booed again. If anyone deserved a DQ for anything they’ve done in this tournament, it was Russo here. Instead, the ref was all over Larduet. Instead, Russo moves on. I’d be more pissed about this one if it didn’t make Mammadov-Karneyeu look downright angelic.
Oleksandr Usyk (Ukraine)-Artur Beterbiev (Russia) 17-13: In a division where every Quarterfinals decision was at least questionable, this one is in the top three of suckitude. It’s like the judges expected Usyk to win and scored it that way. He shouldn’t have won it, and not by a country mile. Beterbiev won the 1st by a little, at minimum, and beat Usyk’s ASS in the 2nd and 3rd. But Beterbiev’s fate was sealed in the 2nd, when the referee warned him for… well, nothing. See, Beterbiev landed a completely legal shot to Usyk’s body that cut him near in half, and the ref administered an eight count, appropriately. But then the ref warned Beterbiev for that, which docked him gave Usyk two points. If he thought the punch illegal, why give a count to Usyk? I guess the penalty was for daring to hurt the favorite. Gah.
Tervel Pulev (Bulgaria)-Yamil Peralta Jara (Argentina), 13-10: This is the only heavy Quarterfinals match that I thought could’ve gone either way, but more thought Peralta won it that not. It was a bout marked by an inordinate amount of occasions where the action was stopped so the corners could tuck in their boxers’ respective shirts, and finished 2-2 on that count.
Bantamweight – 56kg/123.4lb
Lazaro Alvarez Estrada (Cuba) vs. Robenilson Vieira de Jesus (Brazil), 16-11: Alvarez-Vieira was nip-and-tuck in the 1st, but Alvarez turned it on in the 2nd and particularly the 3rd, using his height and timing to preserve his status as the divisional favorite. One of the few bouts Sunday in which there was very little to complain about.
John Joe Nevin (Ireland) vs. Oscar Valdez Fierro (Mexico), 19-13: Nevin defies the stereotypes about Ireland’s factory of brawlers by being exceptionally slick and sharp, and he used those assets to take out a stereotypical pressuring, body-punching Mexican. Nevin had to survive a big body shot knockdown in the 3rd, and it’s a credit to his toughness that he was able to survive it. It was a great style contrast between the pure boxer and the pure pressure brawler, and the end score was too wide, but Nevin deserved the win that sets up a very intriguing bout with Alvarez.
Luke Campbell (Great Britain) vs. Detelin Dalakliev (Bulgaria), 16-15: For a while, it looked as though the home court advantage was going to fail Campbell — Team GB fighters had been on the right side of questionable but defensible decisions before, and Campbell was winning this fight legit going into the 3rd round whether the judges saw it that way, and they did not. Campbell, to his credit, took it out of the judges hands with a torrid 3rd. I’d been skeptical of the Brit before this performance, but no longer.
Satoshi Shimizu (Japan) vs. Mohamed Amine Ouadahi (Algeria), 17-15: In a divisonal Quarterfinals where the scoring was off but at least the right guy won, this was the exception. It’s as though AIBA thought to itself, “Sorry for doing you wrong in the last round, Japan, we got you on this one.” Ouadahi outboxed a determined, stalking Shimizu, countering and outmaneuvering him at every turn. The judges disagreed. They wer helped in their administration of injustice by a warning to Ouadahi by the ref, who decided Ouadahi was leading with his head — at a moment when he absolutely wasn’t — and thereby cost him awarded Shimizu two points.