Philippines, 29 Feb 2024
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Robbery in Monterrey

Zamboanga del Norte's Rene Mark Cuarto would’ve retained the IBF minimumweight title instead of losing it to hometowner Daniel Valladares on a disputed split 12-round decision in Monterrey, Mexico, last Friday night (Saturday morning, Manila time) if only Arizona referee Wes Melton ruled a knockdown in the eighth round and didn’t deduct a point for a questionable violation of delaying the fight to fix loose tape on the Filipino’s glove.
Here’s how the judges scored it. Filipino Jonathan Davis, who’s based in California, saw it 116-111 for Valladares. He awarded four rounds to Cuarto, including the eighth. Another Californian Daniel Sandoval tallied 114-113 for Cuarto, giving him seven rounds. Joel Elizondo, a Texan, had it 116-112 for Valladares and scored the eighth round for the Mexican. Believe it or not, the three judges concurred in giving only one round for Cuarto and three for Valladares, indicating a strange disparity in scoring.

It appeared that Cuarto scored a knockdown in the eighth round. Cuarto said a left uppercut dropped Valladares and saw it from close range. Cuarto’s trainer Nonoy Neri said it was a combination capped by the uppercut that sent Valladares down. MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons, watching at ringside, said it was a clear knockdown. But Melton ruled it a slip. That took away what would’ve been a 10-8 round for Cuarto. Curiously, Elizondo scored it 10-9 for Valladares while the two other judges had it 10-9 for Cuarto. Then, in the 10th round, Melton slapped a point deduction on Cuarto after leading him to his corner to fix loose tape on the third occasion. Gibbons said it wasn’t Cuarto’s fault that the temperature inside the arena was over 100 degrees, making the tape moist and loose. In over 30 years of involvement in boxing, Gibbons said it was the first time he witnessed a point deduction on a fighter for fixing loose tape on his glove. In the official scorecard, it was noted that Melton “discounted a point on Cuarto due to bandages falling off too many times.”

If a knockdown was called, Elizondo would’ve scored the eighth round 10-8 for Cuarto and not 10-9 for Valladares. If Melton hadn’t deducted a point, Elizondo’s scorecard would’ve been 114-114. In that eventuality, only Davis scored it for Valladares meaning Cuarto would’ve retained the crown by a split draw.

In the fourth round, Valladares suffered cuts over both eyes and on his scalp. An accidental headbutt caused a gash over the right eye and another, the scalp wound. Neri said a punch opened a nasty cut over the left eye. Melton gave no indication if the ugly cut was inflicted by a butt so the assumption was it was caused by a blow. Twice, Melton called the ringside physician to examine Valladares’ cut. If the doctor recommended a stoppage and Melton waved it off, Cuarto would’ve won by a TKO. Although blood flowed profusely from the cut and the doctor appeared close to suggesting a halt, Melton stood his ground. The fight wouldn’t be stopped so it could go to the scorecards with the judges taking care of the verdict.

Gibbons said the ringside physician did a good job of treating Valladares’ cut. “The doctor worked on the cut and cleaned it better than any cutman could’ve,” said Gibbons. “Once, the referee didn’t ask the doctor to come up but he went on his own. I will email IBF president Daryl Peoples. The referee blew the knockdown and the point deduction for the loose tape was ridiculous.” Gibbons said he’ll exercise the option in Cuarto’s fight contract and arrange a rematch, surely not in Mexico. Cuarto won’t be robbed a second time.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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