The WBO denied a petition on behalf of Paul Smith for an immediate rematch following the controversial decision that favored Arthur Abraham. Who cares that the WBO's own President, Paco Valcarcel, admitted that at least one judge blew the scoring. Apparently that's not justification enough for a reconciliatory match.
The protest was filed by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom who requested that the WBO review the video of that fight in the hopes of them ordering the rematch - to make things right. Although this ultimately didn't happen for Smith, the WBO did recommend that the WBO classifications committee "favorably consider ranking Mr. Paul Smith within the Top 5 contenders" in its ratings. So...Hooray!...I guess?! Congratulations to Paul on his consolation prize.
On the bright side, Paco Valcarcel was told that Sauerland Events, who promote Abraham, are in negotiations with Hearn for a voluntary title defense against Smith.
"I was contacted by the Sauerland people and they wanted to see what the WBO's position would be if they wanted to negotiate a voluntary rematch," said Valcarcel.
"I let them know that they can make a voluntary because the mandatory is due in late January. So our position is that they can make a voluntary before January because that's when Abraham's mandatory has to happen."
As far as the review of the controversial decision goes, the WBO championship committee "conducted an independent round-by-round evaluation of the fight by combining the results of the three official judges with those of a five-member, highly qualified and internationally recognized, confidential judging panel, finding that the scores ranged between 116-112 and 115-113, all for Abraham in what was an undoubtedly close and competitive match," read the WBO's ruling in part.
"[The committee] understands that post-fight unrest was due to the margin of all of the official judges scores and not the actual result of the bout - with Fernando Laguna's 119-109 (11-1 in rounds) score being particularly egregious and unacceptable in the eyes of this committee."
"We've tried to be clear all along that the fact that we didn't order an immediate rematch making Paul Smith the mandatory to Abraham does not exclude the fact that they can negotiate a voluntary fight," said Jose Izquierdo, general secretary of the WBO.
"In fact, that should happen. So that's on the table and it's up to them to come to an accord and to make it happen. I think that we were fairly straight forward with our ruling. We reviewed the fight as we normally do when we have a protest of this kind."
Whether or not the negotiations for a voluntary title defense against Smith comes to light still remains to be seen but its nice to see that the promoters may be working out the issue themselves, rather than having to depend on the oft hapless sanctioning bodies.