There was hope that the 2012 Olympic Games in London would be an opportunity to help generate broader interest in the sport of boxing, especially if Team USA was able to rebound from a disappointing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. However, it has been an injustice for all as we head into the quarterfinals of the tournament.
The bantamweight and heavyweight quarterfinals commenced yesterday after a week-long crime drama that consisted of disappointing performances, inept officiating and frightful scoring throughout the competition.
Team USA (Men) is down to its last hope after welterweight Errol Spence was granted a stay of execution on Friday upon reversal of his controversial loss to India's Krishan Vikas. The American's eight male teammates previously fell victim to crimes ranging from difficult draws, questionable judging, inadequate coaching and poor execution, relegating them to mere spectators as the proceedings surge ahead without them.
Upon deliberation of the Spence v. Vikas case that was raised by Team USA on appeal, the International Boxing Association ("AIBA") found the Indian guilty of nine holding fouls in the third round of the bout on Friday. Spence was thus awarded an additional four points, giving him the 15-13 victory and the right to fight in the quarterfinals tomorrow against Andrey Zamkovoy from Russia.
While justice in some form was handed down by AIBA, the criminals are still at large. There has yet to be any disciplinary action taken against Lars Brovil, the referee from Denmark who failed to levy the proper number of warnings against Vikas as they were occurring during the fight. AIBA previously suspended German referee Frank Scharmach for five days for prematurely disqualifying Iranian heavyweight Ali Mazahari for holding Cuba's Jose Larduet in a bout last Thursday, although the result of the fight was upheld.
At this point, I would just like to say that what this committee is doing in theory is highly commendable. However, in practice, it sucks.
Evidently, there is no practice of zero-tolerance in the world of Olympic boxing and suspensions are narrowly defined. Scharmach was quickly recycled and served as a judge in the Spence v. Vikas fight the day after his suspension from referee duties was issued. He contributed to the criminal overall score of 13-11 that initially favored Vikas. The Indian spent the third round in survival mode, relying on the judges to bail him out, while Spence fought like a man trying to keep his team alive. However, the retreating Vikas won the third round with a score of 4-3 to secure the initial victory.
A true pursuit of justice was also absent on the heels of the Satoshi Shimizu v. Magomed Abdulhamidov controversy. Not only were several third round knockdowns of Adbulhamidov virtually ignored by the Turkish referee but the judges scored it an incomprehensible 10-10, despite the fact that the Azerbaijanian was grabbing, stumbling and holding the entire round. This led to a 22-17 victory for Abdulhamidov that was later overturned by AIBA.
The referee was expelled for his role in the travesty, yet none of the judges were subject to disciplinary action. In fact, the cycle merely continued when two of the five judges involved in the attempted robbery of Shimizu were assigned to yesterday's heavyweight quarterfinals. It was here that they were successful in carrying out a heist that gave another Azerbaijan fighter an undeserved victory.
A thoroughly exhausted and ineffective Teymur Mammadov literally held onto a win after receiving two warnings in Rounds 2 and 3 for excessive holding. The additional four points that his busier opponent Siarhei Karneyeu from Belarus received for these infractions was not enough to break a 19-19 tie and Mammadov was declared the winner of the countback.
Neither fighter was very good and it leads to some worries about the overall quality of heavyweights in the world. Nevertheless, we witnessed yet another crime right in front of our eyes. This case will not be heard in front of a jury, however, as AIBA has rejected Karneyu's protest.
Italian heavyweight Clemente Russo also held his way to victory yesterday over the better skilled and more complete Cuban Larduet. Winner of the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics, Russo knows how to play the system and broke his way into winning at least a bronze this year as he heads to the semi-finals.
Following the Russo victory, commentator Teddy Atlas compared this tournament to the movie "…And Justice For All" where star Al Pacino's character is disgusted with rampant legal corruption. Following Atlas' lead, there is no better way to sum up the last eight days of competition and what lies ahead.
You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!
• Visit Olympic Games 101 for updates and news on all of your favorite events!Tags: Boxing, Clemente Russo, Errol Spence, Frank Scharmach, Jose Larduet, Krishan Vikas, Magomed Abdulhamidov, Satoshi Shimizu, Siarhei Karneyeu, Teddy Atlas, Teymur Mammadov