Promoters for super middleweight contender Fulgencio Zuniga are threatening to back out of their Friday night bout with 168-pound titlist Lucian Bute if Montreal's Marlon B. Wright referees the contest.
From the Montreal Gazette:
“If it’s Marlon Wright, it could be a big problem,” said Marchio, Zuniga’s promoter. “If he’s the ref, there could be (no fight). We would have to look at that option. They know the world’s looking at this fight.”
Wright, a Montreal native and former boxer, was third man in the ring last October, when Bute retained his 168-pound title against Librado Andrade in controversial fashion. Bute won a unanimous decision, but not before being knocked down in the waning seconds of the final round. Things became chaotic from there, but many have argued Bute benefited from a long count, thereby retaining his belt. It has been suggested Wright could, and should, have stopped the bout.
“I believe the fight should have been stopped,” Marchio said. “We want to make sure we get a fair fight. We want a fair ref. We don’t believe what happened last time was fair. We felt Andrade won the fight. I don’t believe the ref should be Wright. He’s worked Bute’s last five fights, and we don’t want him to work a sixth.
“That’s ridiculous. We can’t have the same ref. We have two options – pull out or fight. We’re here to fight and it’s hard to (make that decision) now. But (if Wright’s the ref) it probably would be the breaking point.”
I think Wright is a crummy referee not because of the outcome of Bute-Andrade but because he showed a complete lack of control in the closing moments of the fight. He acted like it was his first time. I don't think it's a matter of corruption but more a matter of ineptitude, which is my feeling on most things of this nature. Many don't give officials (referees, judges, etc.) enough credit for just not being very good, in my opinion.
But, still, to bring this up three days before the fight is pretty amateur from the Zuniga camp. They had to have been aware that Wright was likely the leading candidate to ref this fight, and it's been signed for a while now. This could and should have been addressed before now. They're attempting to pull a power play. Even if they're right that maybe Marlon B. shouldn't be in there, it's sketchy timing to say the least.
Still, the Bute camp isn't disagreeing at all. Stephen LaRouche, who trains Bute and serves as the director of operations for InterBox, said this:
“But I think their request is legitimate and (the ref) should come from outside. I think they’re right. I think it would be a smart decision. Lucian also hopes the ref is from outside. The credibility of Montreal boxing, InterBox and the credibility, most of all, of Lucian Bute is at stake here.”
The Montreal boxing scene is outstanding. There have been some weird things up there lately (including the five-minute round in Ngoudjo-Urango), and it seems like the head honchos at InterBox are taking it seriously. They don't want a reputation as an undesirable place to fight, which is good because the fans are incredible and it could become a serious boxing hub, if it hasn't already.