I wondered earlier on if anyone out there besides Frank Lombardi and Ron McNair thought that Joel Casamayor won his alleged fight against Jose Armando Santa Cruz on Saturday night. I even wondered if anyone thought it was as close as Tony Paolillo did.
Turns out, nope.
Again, I had it 117-110 for Santa Cruz. Harold Lederman had it 118-109.
To paint just how big of a robbery this was, I decided to gather the thoughts of several others that watched the fight. No one -- no one -- thinks Casamayor won, or that it was close.
Dan Rafael, ESPN: "The ghosts of the first Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield fight must have awakened inside Madison Square Garden because, like that draw that robbed Lewis of the undisputed heavyweight championship, this disgusting split decision for Casamayor blatantly robbed Santa Cruz of the true lightweight championship. It's one of the worst decisions we've ever witnessed. And we're not talking about a close fight, either. The prevailing scores at ringside had it 11-1 or 10-2 in rounds for Santa Cruz. That means it was a total wipeout, but not according to judges Ron McNair and Frank Lombardi, who incredibly had it for Casamayor. They ought to be ashamed of themselves, and forced to explain their cards to New York commission chairman Ron Scott Stevens. Even the scorecard of Tony Paolillo, which favored Santa Cruz, was horrible. He should also be benched for having it so close."
Eric Raskin, MaxBoxing: "Good news for boxing writers: We have a new horrendous modern decision to reference so we can stop comparing every outrageous outcome to Courtney Burton-Emanuel Augustus. The scoring in the Joel Casamayor-Jose Armando Santa Cruz fight wasn't just bad; it was unfathomable. I had it 119-110 Santa Cruz, in the same neighborhood as Harold Lederman and most of the ringside press. If by chance I was a judge who didn't care one bit about holding and didn't care one bit about fighting in reverse, and was judging the fight based solely on the punching, maybe I could see giving Casamayor three or four rounds. But that's the maximum. The judges gave him seven, seven, and six rounds. Absolutely pathetic."
Tim Starks, Seven Punch Combo: "The Joel Casamayor win over Jose Armando Santa Cruz featured by far the worst decision by three judges I've ever seen with my own eyes in real time. I scored it 119-107 for Santa Cruz, and most everyone who scored it on press row had it about the same. ... Casamayor did nothing. Nothing. Since when do you get points for running away from someone? His punches, when he bothered to throw them, lacked steam. He was rusty from a 13-month layoff, and, maybe, just plain old at 36. The only thing Casamayor did of note was avoid getting clobbered when he accidentally got caught between the ropes at one point and dodged Santa Cruz's punches Matrix-style by bending halfway over."
Taj Eubanks, East Side Boxing: "For twelve rounds Casamayor, who has dedicated himself in recent months to heaping ridicule upon other top fighters such as Juan Diaz, Manny Pacquiao and Julio Diaz, , hugged like a bear and ran like tap water. He even suffered an official knockdown in round one. For someone who constantly derides his potential opponents as being 'bums', Casamayor turned in a deplorable performance. The rangier, fresher Santa Cruz backed Casamayor all night, while the 'champion' was content to backpedal. The fight was so one-sided in fact that one cannot even make a case for a draw, much less a Casamayor victory." (East Side's Matthew Hurley had it 119-109 for Santa Cruz.)
Bill Calogero, Boxing Scene: "One of the most outrageous, and sickening decisions I think I have ever witnessed in over twenty-five years in the business. ... This fight was not even close! ... I am not sure what fight (the judges) were watching and I am shocked that the NYSAC could allow this to happen. To say this was a joke is a complete understatement." (Boxing Scene scored the bout 118-109 for Santa Cruz.)
Jim Lampley, HBO: "Just when you think you've seen everything, just when you think you've seen decisions so bizarre that you think you'll never see anything worse than that, along comes something like this."
Emanuel Steward, HBO: "This was a bad, disgusting decision -- and that's putting it mildly."
Corey T. Willinger, Inside Pulse: "By the end of the fight, Casamayor's face had been bludgeoned by the harder shots from Santa Cruz, yet it was the sport itself who again received the biggest black eye when Casamayor was inexplicably announced the winner."
And that's just a start, really. Nobody had this fight for Joel Casamayor. Nobody thought it was even close.
Casamayor was already pretty hard to like a lot of the time. I think that he is (well, was) a hell of a good boxer, at times great. But he has always been brash and very arrogant. And it's not even that I think Joel Casamayor deserves the blame for this -- he deserves the blame for the fight being terrible, since it was his doing by refusing to fight Santa Cruz, but he didn't fill out the scorecards.
I no longer think Casamayor should even be remotely discussed as the best 135-pounder in the world. That performance was rotten. He may not even be top 10, because I wouldn't have Santa Cruz that high, and Santa Cruz beat him soundly. He is, though, the true lightweight champion. And that is an utter disgrace.