Madrimov controversy Saturday reinforces instant replay needed
On Saturday night in Tulsa a knock-down controversy in the co-feature fight for Matchroom Boxing has made yet another compelling argument that most major fight cards should have some type of instant replay available to help the in ring referee.
First, let’s set the scene.
The fight was a scheduled 12-rounder for a WBA 154 lb. lesser version of its World Championship. It pitted Ubekistan unbeaten Israil Madrimov at 5-0 with 5 KOs against American Eric Walker, who came in 20 – 2.
Madrimov was doing as expected: scoring the more significant punches throughout the fight, although Walker had snuck in an occasional, big right hand and was showing guts and a great chin throughout the early part of the fight. But, steadily, Madrimov continued to land.
Then, as he is done throughout his professional career, Madrimov landed one of his big, leaping punches from an awkward angle where he is often off -balanced himself, while making connection with the opponent.
This time it was a left hook, as he left to Walker’s face clearly connected, but what happened in the split seconds after that wasn’t clear. This, as Madrimov continued to stumble into Walker, lowering his shoulder into Walker’s upper body, as Walker was already falling back and recoiling from the punch.
Walker toppled backwards on the canvas and under the bottom ropes in a corner. And, that’s when veteran referee Gary Ritter decided that it was the shoulder, and not the punch, that had put Walker down.
Madrimov drops Walker, but the referee rules no knockdown.
— DAZN USA (@DAZN_USA) August 16, 2020
That set into motion a bizarre and controversial few minutes in the ring, as Walker rolled around on the canvas first, obviously feeling the effects from the hard punch that would have normally resulted in a 10 count and KO.
But then, Walker was given up to five minutes to recover and rest sitting on a stool in his corner, because the referee was essentially ruling a foul against Madrimov.
That was completely unfair, in light of the replays.
Ultimately, it only prolonged the inevitable as Madrimov continued to pound Walker, who was not the same fighter the last three rounds of fight after that punch/knockdown and Madrimov scored an easy decision victory.
Now, in the present day of 2020, and with several replay angles available from the DAZN streaming service broadcast of the fight. And, it could have been very easy for an official either with the Oklahoma boxing commission or one from the WBA that was in attendance for the fight, to come and inform the referee about what the replays were clearly showing. That is – that it was a punch that did the most damage to Eric Walker and not a foul.
It would have been an appropriate and just way to just end of the fight, rewarding Madrimov and saving punishment unnecessarily for Walker, who had to go to the hospital in Tulsa to be checked late night Saturday for head trauma. Fortunately, Walker appears to be okay.
Continuing, this knock down controversy wasn’t handled in the same manner as previously, where instant replay was utilized in recent prominent main event fights to help the referee straighten things out.
We wrote in early July of it happening during the Top Rank Boxing “bubble” shows at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That’s, when Jose “Sniper” Pedraza won easily over Mikkel LesPierre in a 10-round lopsided unanimous decision.
But, as part of that easy win, was the controversial use of instant replay in the fifth round of the fight to overrule referee Kenny Bayless on whether Pedraza had been down from a punch or a trip?
To recap: early in the fifth, LaPierre, a southpaw, landed a solid straight left hand to the body and Pedraza appear to trip while trying to recoil from the punch. Bayless ruled it a knockdown, and the round proceeded.
Then, Pedraza got momentum back with a right-left combination that dropped LesPierre for a few seconds.
Finally, the round ended and the fighters got the full :60 between rounds break, but once the bell rang to start around 6, that’s when the instant replay usage and the controversy that followed happened.
Replay official, and alternate referee, Robert Byrd summoned Bayless out of the ring to come look at the Pedraza knock down. In conjunction with Nevada Athletic Commission Chairman Bob Bennett seated right next to him, the two convinced Bayless to overturn the knockdown ruling to a slip.
With Pedraza and LesPierre still waiting in neutral corners, Bayless walked back up to ring and informed the fighters, the ringside judges and the cornermen that the Pedraza knock down was not legit and should not be scored as such.
Also prominently we wrote nearly a year ago, about the August bout for the WBC Flyweight championship, where is President, Mauricio Sulaiman, was in attendance in London. The fight was Julio Cesar Martinez’s bid to capture the WBC belt and was originally was ruled a knockout win over champion Charlie Edwards.
However, Sulaiman and ringside officials with the British Boxing Board of Control decided to overrule referee Mark Lyson, because replays showed Martinez clearly had hit the champ Edwards with a punch in the third round, while Edwards was on one knee down. Edwards was then, counted out by the ref.
Sulaiman said at the time,
“There is evidence on the video. The WBC instant replay is in effect. So the WBC has determined there’s going to be an immediate rematch ordered. Can you imagine the feeling of both fighters? (Martinez) thinks he just became champion. Now he’s going back not as a champion. (Edwards) felt he was hit while he was down.
Sulaiman continued, “This is boxing. I believe in instant replay and we will abide by that. 18,000 people (in the arena) and millions around the world are watching that replay.”
And, that line of thinking is absolutely correct. The fight verdict was overturned from Martinez knockout win to “no contest” for the foul ending the fight before the fourth round had concluded.
The reinforcement of replay use is correct and technology now exists, where thousands in the arena are seeing high-definition replays on video screens and millions watching these fight broadcasts can also see what the correct call is.
As has been pointed out in those above examples, boxing doesn’t have uniform specific guidelines on when in a fight they’re using the replay, in what fights and who has the ultimate authority?
But, still, replay is available and should be utilized, especially when it involves controversial knockdowns or fouls, where it’s obvious the ring referee didn’t see and got it wrong.
Now there’s a whole other discussion about the length of delays, which we’ve seen plague sports like the NFL and the NBA in the United States. That’s where replay reviews from everything from: inbounds or out of bounds or time left on the clock or who touched the ball last before it went out of bounds, all seem to take interminable amounts of unnecessary time.
And, don’t get European soccer fans started on the video review system being used for- “goal or no goal” instant replay reviews. They also have been time consuming and are often inconsistently the wrong call, too.
Again, that’s not the overall point.
What is the point is: using 2020 technology to make every attempt at getting the call correct.
Like, the call that was missed Saturday night in Tulsa, when Israil Madrimov should have been given a knockout win and Erik Walker shouldn’t have been made to take more punishment after a left hook essentially knocked him out.