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By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Sun, 30 Jun 2013

It was obvious that WBC minimum weight Silver champion and mandatory challenger Denver Cuello should not have entered the ring against Chinese champion Xiong Zhao Zhong at the World Trade Center last Friday night (Saturday morning Manila time) in Dubai, for several reasons.

The first and most important as shown by the split decision loss was that the hard-hitting southpaw had a shoulder injury which was the reason he was taken the ten round distance in his last two fights against Ivan Meneses of Mexico and Takashi Kunishige of Japan.

The manager of IBO super flyweight champion Edrin Dapudong, journalist and former North Cotabato governor Manny Pinol revealed that his Braveheart fighters who trained at Aljoe Jaro?s gym had told him that Cuello was hurting even in sparring sessions while preparing for the fight against Zhong.

We cannot understand why Aljoe failed to have Cuello examined by qualified doctors and operated on, instead of seeking the help of a quack.

Since he had been made to wait for two years for the title shot by the WBC, surely he had a legitimate right to seek a postponement while he underwent surgery and his shoulder healed.
We learned from our contacts in Dubai that Zhong?s camp which included his promoter Liu Gang who is reportedly close to WBC supervisor Patrick Cusik knew about Cuello?s condition and capitalized on it.

We cannot understand why Aljoe Jaro jeopardized his fighter?s chances by allowing him to fight even though he probably felt ? as he had told us before ? that Cuello could beat Zhong who was really and truly a mediocre fighter ? even with one hand tied behind his back.

The sight that bothered us while watching the fight was Aljoe Jaro trying to put Cuello?s shoulder which was dislocated, back into place. For all his experience Aljoe is not a therapist and probably aggravated the injury although Cuello courageously battled Zhong till the end.

WBC president Don Jose Sulaiman himself who watched the fight on the WBC live streaming said it was a very close fight and he thought Zhong won ever so slightly but that the fight could have gone either way.

He also told us he didn?t know the Russian judge who scored the fight for Zhong at all, although he did praise the referee and the two other judges, singling out John Keane of England who, incidentally, scored the fight a draw.

When you recall the fact that Cuello dropped Zhong in the very first round with a wicked left which should have given him a 10-8 round and was also the beneficiary of a 1 point deduction after an accidental clash of heads when Cuello suffered a nasty gash across his right eye which bled profusely, it adds up to a three-point margin or the equivalent of winning three rounds.
If you review the fight video closely you would realize that Cuello should have been given an additional four rounds which we believe he won, by a 10-9 margin. That would add up to 115 points as against the possible 113 points for Zhong unless the judges decided to give Zhong several of the close rounds which Cuello won.

The fact that the fight was called off in a statement issued by KO Promotions reportedly because of financial problems hours before the first bell but which was reversed one hour later , after we received information that a Chinese offered to finance the bout.

In short, it was loaded against Cuello.

The story on the financial shenanigans by KO Promotions was reinforced by Aljoe Jaro who claimed Cuello didn?t receive his purse ? believed to be $40,000 ? and their airline return tickets were not given to them, forcing Aljoe Jaro who simply refused to remain in Dubai another week to receive his money, to spend his own funds to buy the tickets to fly home.

We remember warning Aljoe Jaro anout KO Promotions after the Dubai-based outfit effectively screwed up a fight card featuring fighters from ALA Promotions who teamed up with the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN to stage the card in Dubai. Up to now KO Promotions owes ALA Promotions several thousand dollars.

Question is, what the hell was the WBC supervisor doing when he should have seen to it that the fighters were paid after the weigh-in which is the standard procedure.

Didn?t the doctors in Dubai who conducted the pre-fight physical notice Cuello?s trouble with his shoulder? Or did they even conduct a proper pre-fight medical examination?

Here, our own Games and Amusements Board whose utter incompetence seems to be a way of life should also take responsibility. Isn?t the GAB supposed to give a fighter leaving for a world title shot abroad a thorough medical examination? Did they, and if they did, didn?t they notice Cuello?s physical problems.

Add a litany of mismatches approved by the GAB this past week alone (2 in Mexico, 3 in Japan and now 2 in Thailand) and you will realize that if President Benigno Aquino III is even half-serious about keeping a straight path the GAB officials in stark contrast appear to be walking a crooked path and deserve to be fired.

But we guess these are obviously political appointees and the chances of getting the President to act decisively no matter what the evidence, is remote.

To us, what is perhaps even more distressing is that Congressman Manny Pacquiao who constantly claims he has the boxer?s interests at heart, hasn?t bothered to inquire into what is going on in the GAB.

We are aware that whenever Pacquiao fights in the US, the GAB travels to the event at the cost of taxpayers money even though Manny is perfectly capable of taking c are of himself and doesn?t need their help.

Did they lift a finger when Pacquiao was robbed of the decision in his fight against Timothy Bradley? Of course not.

They travel to the US to have a good time but when a fighter like Cuello fights for a world title in Dubai, which was a first, nobody goes. Why not?

Chairman Monchu Guanzon who is proud of the fact that the GAB is under the Office of the President as well as his being appointed by Sulaiman as a member of the WBC board in some capacity should prove his worth, call Sulaiman, protest what happened to Cuello and demand that the WBC make sure he receives his purse and reimbursement for their airline tickets, immediately.

We are waiting with bated breath to find out whether the GAB will act, whether the WBC will act and whether Aljoe Jaro realizes that courage is not everything when a fighter enters the ring ? he must be physically perfectly fit. For all the gallantry of Cuello, sending him into battle with one hand was unforgivable.

Of course, in the end, we?d like to recall what the esteemed ALA Promotions patron Tony Aldeguer said when Olympic hopeful Charly Suarez lost a fight he should have won and earned a berth to the London Games of 2012 when a so-called count-back gave the victory to Suarez? Chinese opponent which seems to apply in the Cuello case ? Suarez didn?t lose, China won!

Photo courtesy of Mukesh Kamal.

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