Tyson Fury’s win over Otto Wallin last Saturday night featured a wicked cut on Fury’s right eyebrow, and then a bit of controversy, but not from the scoring or the outcome.
As we mentioned in the post-fight recap this weekend, the cut was ruled to be caused by a punch, which it became clear that Fury’s corner, particularly trainer Ben Davison, did not know. When the commission communicated to the ESPN broadcasters that it was a punch and not an accidental headbutt, as referee Tony Weeks had told the corners, play-by-play man Joe Tessitore sent interviewer Bernardo Osuna over to discuss this with Fury’s corner.
Some felt that the ESPN team crossed a line by interfering with the fight. I took no big stance, personally, because it was such an odd situation that while it seemed a little off — and I did wonder if they’d have done the same had the cut been on Wallin, who doesn’t have a massive ESPN contract — I couldn’t say with any certainty, really, if what they did was right or wrong.
On the one hand, it seems weird for a broadcast team, particularly one calling what is essentially a house fighter vs a visitor, to get involved to that degree. On the other hand, referee Weeks had clearly been wrong with his information, and the corners surely deserve to know the real ruling if everyone watching on TV does.
Nevada commission executive director Bob Bennett admitted that mistakes were made, and that it was on the commission, and said he was glad Tessitore and Osuna relayed the correct info:
“We dropped the ball by not letting them know it was a punch and ESPN let them know and I don’t have a problem with that because we dropped the ball, and it won’t happen again. No network will be the ones in the corner telling anyone about a ruling in the future. ... I asked to see it again. Jay and I saw it was from a punch. So the round ends and Tony comes over and he says, ‘Accidental head butt.’ I said, ‘Do you want to look at the replay? It was caused by a punch.’ We are allowed under the rules to consult even though the referee is the sole arbiter. But we told him we had visual evidence of it being from a punch and so he changed [the ruling] to a punch. He took our word. ... [W]here we didn’t complete or fulfill our responsibility was by failing to hold up the card saying it was caused by a punch or for Tony to tell the corners.”
Bob Arum, for what it’s worth, calls Tessitore and Osuna “heroes” for sharing the proper info with the corners.
I do lean toward saying that Tessitore and Osuna did the right thing here. Let’s say they hadn’t done it, and the fight had been stopped because Fury, believing the cut had been caused by a foul, truthfully told a doctor he couldn’t see at some point, or because Davison and the corner pulled him, believing the cut to be caused by a foul, which is what they had been told. Wallin is awarded a TKO because Fury’s corner were still working with bad information. Fury’s team would have been rightly incensed, and boxing fans would be calling for the commission’s heads for screwing it up.
The commission screwed up, which is a much bigger deal than the ESPN guys stepping in. Nevada obviously can’t let this sort of thing happen again.