‘Dirty boxing’ mars Games; three ring officials sacked
A second official was also expelled while another referee was suspended.
Judges also came under fire with one fighter accusing them of “a fix” and even boxing great Lennox Lewis questioning some of the calls.
Referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov of Turkmenistan and international technical official Aghajan Abiyev of Azerbaijan were sent home with immediate effect on Thursday. The suspended referee was Frank Scharmach of Germany.
The controversies erupted as Filipino boxer Mark Anthony Barriga was preparing for his round of 16 bout on Saturday with Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan in the light flyweight division.
The focus should also be turning to women boxers competing at the Olympics for the first time but instead the International Amateur Boxing Association (Aiba) has had to deal with the type of scandals that dogged it almost a decade ago.
Referee Meretnyyazov failed to stop a men’s bantamweight bout on Wednesday night despite his opponent, Magomed Abdulhamidov of Azerbaijan, being knocked down six times in the final round.
Japanese boxer Satoshi Shimizu, who went into the last round of the bout against the Azerbaijani trailing by seven points, lost the contest by five points when all three rounds were scored.
The Aiba later overturned the verdict, saying Meretnyyazov should have given the Azerbaijani “at least” three standing counts, which would have resulted in the contest being stopped.
Not only did Shimizu greet the result with disbelief, but so too did the 10,000-strong crowd at London’s ExCel arena.
Japan immediately filed an appeal.
“The main reason is that Abdulhamidov fell down several times and it was not counted by the referee,” Japanese team leader Masamori Yamane said.
Shimizu trailed 12-5 going into the final round but then dominated with the exhausted Abdulhamidov spending most of it on the canvas.
Nevertheless, he was adjudged the winner, 22-17, leading to Shimizu standing shocked in the ring and Abdulhamidov being booed out of the arena like a pantomime villain.
“I am angry. I was so shocked by the result that I had to ask the referee if I had heard it correctly,” Shimizu said. “He fell down so many times in that last round, the fight should have been stopped.”
The judges scored the round 10-10, handing Shimizu two extra points for a warning against Abdulhamidov, who propped himself up against the top rope as the referee raised his hand in victory. He was helped out of the ring by his trainer.
Abiyev was expelled for breaking his contract by communicating with his country’s team, according to an Aiba document. The contract forbids technical officials from communicating with anybody about any competition, especially persons from their own country or national federation.
Referee Scharmach was suspended for being too quick to serve Iran’s Ali Mazaheri with warnings for persistent holding, the third of which resulted in the heavyweight fighter being disqualified in the second round.
Mazaheri was leading Cuban Jose Larduet Gomez by two points going into the second round but the Iran team did not appeal.
“It was a fix. I could have got a bronze easily if it hadn’t been for that,” said Mazaheri, who walked out of the ring before the decision was announced.
There were more complaints on Thursday. Ukraine’s Olympic Committee said it was considering taking a case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after middleweight Evhen Khytrov lost a tight contest to Briton Anthony Ogogo.
Hungarian officials also cried foul when one of their boxers lost by a similar margin.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) restored ties with the Aiba in 2006 after freezing some funds to the association over controversial scoring decisions at the 2004 Games. The IOC had expressed concerns over the scoring process and the selection of judges and froze more than $1 million in payments to the Aiba.
Britain’s Lewis said he was impressed by the talents but “what I’m concerned about is probably the judging. You never know who is going to win until the end of the fight,” said Lewis, a dual citizen who won gold for Canada in 1988. With a report from Reuters
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