In what appeared to most to be a sure win for Ali Funeka, the South African came out with a majority draw against Joan Guzman in the HBO opener tonight in Quebec City.
Funeka (30-2-3, 25 KO) turned the tide of the fight for good with a huge shot in the 8th round that hurt Guzman, but he failed to put him away. And with Guzman (29-0-1, 17 KO) seemingly still on bad legs the next round, Funeka still didn't put on any major pressure.
Bad Left Hook scored it 115-113 for Funeka. Official scores were 116-112 Funeka, and two 114-114 cards.
Guzman, 33, looked a bit rusty, and suffered from a busted nose and a pretty nasty cut over his right eye. For the latter portion of the fight, he seemed mostly to be in survival mode. It surely was his worst pro performance.
Funeka and promoter Gary Shaw cried robbery after the fight, and most of the crowd seemed to agree that Funeka won. HBO's Harold Lederman scored it for Funeka, as did everyone in our live thread. Scores ranged from 115-113 all the way up to 118-110.
In my view, it's a bad decision, but not a robbery. A 114-114 card isn't a terrible card, I don't believe. But two of them? It seems distressingly unlikely. I guess it has to be chalked up to more bad luck for Funeka, whose first two fights out of South Africa have been tough on him.
What he's proven, though, is that he's legitimately a contender. There's no doubt about that. As for Guzman, we'll see if he fights again before next Christmas season before we really make any leaps on how much he has left in the tank.
At the end of the day -- as much as it sucks for Funeka, and as much as I think he deserved the W -- Funeka should not have left it up to the judges. Guzman was finished in there late in the 8th and what seemed like all of the 9th round. Funeka should have finished. He never got close.
It was a good fight, better than expected, and I'd expect there will be a rematch. The IBF title remains vacant, and both will stay at the top of the rankings.
Our live coverage will continue with the Bute-Andrade rematch one post down from this one. Join us for the main event!