After the big Toney vs. Peter fight last weekend, I've been mulling over what happened, trying to come to terms with what I felt was a terrible decision. There is a part of me that can't help but believe there was funny business going on in the bad call, and another part of me that wants to find another explanation.
The side of me that feels it was an intentional robbery:
It was a Don King fight, and King wants a young buck to promote. Had Peter lost, he would be relegated to the dust-bin of hyped contenders; but Toney losing a close decision that nearly everyone disagreed with does little do damage his reputation. Toney is the biggest draw--the only real draw who is still competitive--in the heavyweight division. He will still be able to get big fights. His "loss" loses no one much money in the near future.
In addition, the boxing world is salivating for a young new champion with knockout power, and Peter is thought to be the closest we have. You can tell how tremendously biased the HBO commentators were against Toney in the Rahman fight by their absurd commentary and emphasis. And Peter comes off as a nice guy -- not the sharpest tool in the shed, but a humble and likable fellow nonetheless.
Toney has also just plain pissed a lot of people off. He's a love him or hate him kind of guy.
Then the kicker: the terrible discrepancy between the judge's score. While a few of the rounds were tough to call, I have a very hard time believing that not one but two judges could have honestly scored the fight 116-111 -- even with the point deduction! One had Peter sweeping all of the last five rounds!
The side of me that wants another explanation:
Well, this side struggles, but here is the best that I can come up with: judge's emphases have changed over the years, and they value the counter-puncher's style less and less. Think about the other major robbery this year: Callao's so-called loss to Hatton. Collazo, like Toney, is a counter-puncher and slick defender, and again, the judges didn't see it the way fans did.
It seems to me that these two fights indicate a pattern where judges reward a fighter for simply moving forward, as opposed to the kind of subtle ring generalship displayed by Toney and Collazo. If so, this is stupid. The constantly aggressive boxer will always move forward; the counter-puncher will always defend and seek openings. The styles need to be evaluated on their own merits.
If Toney was really getting pushed around and physically dominated, he would deserve to lose. But he wasn't. He ducked or leaned away from most of Peter's blows, and he withstood the ones that landed. And Toney clearly landed more shots -- not only more shots but more solid, impressive shots. True Peter's right in the fifth probably hurt Toney more than any one Toney punch hurt Peter, but so what? He didn't knock him out. It was a one point round, and Peter couldn't really make it happen again.
Who was the most physically damaged? By the look of their faces, Peter, though neither man seemed all that hurt. Who landed more shots? Toney. Who had the better defense? Toney. Who displayed more skill? Toney. What did Peter do? Well, he kept moving forward. And apparently that has become enough.
There is some silver lining for Toney fans: the Peter camp has promised him a rematch if Peter beats Maskaev. But what good is a rematch if either of the propositions above is true?