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Jerry Forrest and promoter Lou DiBella still angry with Michael Hunter draw, another call for boxing judging reform

You could say Jerry Forrest has had bad luck, but is luck really part of the equation?

Jerry Forrest and promoter Lou DiBella are still upset about the recent draw with Michael Hunter
Jerry Forrest and promoter Lou DiBella are still upset about the recent draw with Michael Hunter
Photo by Edward Diller/Getty Images

Jerry Forrest is mad as hell, he’s not going to take it anymore.

“From here on out I’m stopping everyone,” said the heavyweight, a few days after he fought Michael Hunter at TrillerVerz IV in New York, getting a draw he felt should have been a win.

Forrest is now 26-4-2 (20 KO), and I’m here to say I was at the Hammerstein, and having seen the Hunter-Forrest rematch in person, I can safely offer that Forrest deserves to be 27-3-2, at worst.

Not a big surprise that Jerry’s promoter Lou DiBella also thinks his guy should have been treated better by the judges, and that his boxer’s record is stained by a tainted effort — or two — by judges.

“No longer will I leave it to (any compromised) organization to determine my future,” Forrest told Bad Left Hook. ”From here on out, everyone gotta go to sleep. Everyone has to be embarrassed to get the win. So I’m just going to refocus and be ready.”

Forrest is 33, and has been under radar until fairly recently, toiling mainly in Virginia, which isn’t a boxing hotbed, until 2019. The lefty, a pro since 2012, accumulated wins over the Grover Youngs of the world, and a solid showing versus Jermaine Franklin on ShoBox in 2019 — another controversial decision — got him noticed by hardcore fans, plenty of whom thought he deserved to topple Franklin from the ranks of the undefeated.

Forrest showed he isn’t one to go quietly into the night. He barked after the L, “That’s just the politics of boxing. I still won, even though I lost, simply because everyone was able to see exactly what I did and what I could do.”

The stakes for the Triller fight were undefined, to a degree, but promoter DiBella sees it this way: A win for Forrest would have given him a nice ratings boost. Hunter came to the fight seen as the WBA’s No. 2 ranked contender, No. 6 by the WBO, and No. 7 by the WBC. Forrest, I’m saying now, deserves to be in the top 15 in every organization.

A draw left Forrest that much more cynical about this game and how it operates. I didn’t score it second by second, but yeah, to my eyes, Forrest beat Hunter. I sat next to Thomas Hauser, the eminent fight writer. Hunter, he said, is not well prepared, his body looks soft and he lacks energy. Summing it up, Forrest took the fight to Hunter, had him on the defensive much of the time, and lumped up his face. John McKaie had it 95-95, Kevin Morgan liked Jerry’s work, 96-94, and Robert Perez saw it for Hunter, 96-94.

Forrest cringed, stomped a foot, and basically was of the mindset, “Why me? Not again.”

DiBella ranted post-fight, moved to go up to a member of the Hunter camp, and basically tell him that he knows his guy lost. The fella didn’t admit any such thing. Forrest’s certainty that he deserved that win hasn’t faded, though.

“I’m tired of proving I belong with the top fighters and getting half of what they are getting because I don’t go to clubs, have big chains,” he told me. “Boxing is entertainment and we all know that but if you’re better than everyone then your skills should speak for themself. I put the work in, I show I’m getting better with everything I’m doing in the ring, I belong on top. I would beat anyone in front of me, no matter how tall, or how much heavier they are. I proved time and time again I’m the best.”

He maintains he gets ducked, and while I won’t subscribe to his point of view that he’s “the best,” I will say he deserves better treatment by judges. This guy has been stung a few times, so next time out, he darn well deserves all “A-team” arbiters.

“Oscar Rivas don’t want it,” Jerry continued. “So I’m like, OK, no one wanna fight, I get paid less than everyone and I also get cheated. But my time is coming, truth always overcomes all in the end.”

I asked him to describe his life a bit more, so I can better see how getting the short end on a few decisions affects him.

“The past four years have been very challenging, because the money difference can affect your life and your family,” he said. “What I’m fighting for and what others are fighting for is not only unfair but it’s not common to the common person. I have fought the top prospects, top competitors and I’m top a competitor and I’m not only not being rewarded for that but I’ve also been cheated because they feel that those guys deserve the spot that I’m taking from them.

“It’s all a business and I get that it’s a business, I understand that, but you’re messing with people’s livelihood when you’re giving out bad judges and bad calls. That’s the difference between making a six- or seven-figure salary in this game. It’s like unless you get a knockout the judges will side with the favorite. I understand that it’s a business. And I get that we know what we sign up for every single time that we take a fight on the B-side. But it’s unfair that I can’t just beat someone, but I have to knock them out.”

I almost chuckled when Jerry said, “I’m the best boxer in America.” Not being snotty, but that’s not a contention made by anyone other than Jerry. But bless him, I get that he has to employ defenses to get over the stings, and keep on soldiering.

“I have the best skills, conditioning, and I hit like a mule,” he asserted. “Just look at my past fights. I have the best jab, best movement. And when it comes to heart you can see what I have inside!”

No debating the last contention. So what’s to do, besides acknowledge to Jerry that he deserves better from the sport? Well, on Monday, promoter DiBella says, he will deliver a letter to the New York State Athletic Commission, politely demanding they do better.

“I’ve been vocal, historically, about the judging problem in the whole of the sport, not just one jurisdiction,” DiBella said. “And yes, politics is present. But Hunter vs Forrest was a non-title fight, so there shouldn’t be any politics involved. The ‘A-side favoritism’ needs to be addressed!”

TrillerVerz IV Photo by Edward Diller/Getty Images

DiBella pointed to another card turned in at Hammerstein by judge John Basile, who scored for Cassius Chaney by a two-point margin over George Arias, as being out of line. Arias, promoted by DiBella with an assist by Salita Promotions, snagged a split decision because Steve Weisfeld and Mark Consentino saw Arias as the more effective boxer. To be honest, I saw a tepid affair, with neither man sending notice that they needed to win, or entertain the patrons or watchers, so that decision didn’t ruffle my feathers.

But the point remains the same: Show me the organizations who are doing something about the shit judging we all see way too regularly, show me any leadership body or figure who is putting forth measures to fix an egregious issue, and I will give ‘em a hug, and a bunch of attaboys (or attagals).

It is wrong, big time wrong, that we source an important task like judging a prize fight — where the winner could transition next to a big bout purse — to non-professionals. Too often, the judge seat is occupied by, frankly, a hack, someone who is in the seat because they are connected to a commissioner, or are particularly skilled at politicking.

I’m not saying that about any of the people working at Hammerstein Dec. 2. By and large, I think New York judges have been pretty damn good at getting it right a good percentage of the time for a decent spell. Steve Weisfeld, a regular, is in my eyes the best boxing judge in the game right now, bar none. But if he’s overruled by a less-seasoned and a less-proficient colleague, then that doesn’t do a Jerry Forrest much good, does it?

Consider this a periodic reminder that this element of the sport needs attention, and every day that passes that we don’t work on remedies is another day we accept the unsavory sides of the sport, and send the implicit message that we are actually OK with the frequent episodes where bad judging leads to cries of corruption, ineptitude, and just plain unfairness.

“Three six-year-old girls could have scored Forrest-Hunter right,” DiBella said. “A win would be life-changing guy for a guy like Forrest. And you can chuckle at him saying he’s the best boxer, period, but I think he’s like a bogeyman, a guy that is capable of beating anybody on a given night.

“Jerry is a legit top 10 guy, a legit contender. And at the moment, he’s handling this way better than I would have, because this has happened to him before. The Jermaine Franklin fight was an atrocity and so was the Hunter fight. Because it streamed, not that many saw it, and it’s a shame. Yeah, guys wrote after that it was a robbery, but the day after, Jerry Forrest has now two losses that aren’t fair, and with the draw, hasn’t won in two years.”

So DiBella will send the letter, and we hope it starts a chain of activity with the goal of improving an element of the sport that is more broken orbital than mere black eye.

My idea, and feel free to tell persons in position to make it happen, is this: We have a fight card on which every judge slot is filled by a fighter. Ex-fighters, ones on the younger side, with 20/20 vision. And hell, even active boxers as long as there is no potential conflict of interest at play. It stands to figure that fighters will do a better job at interpreting what’s in front of them as opposed to non-pugilists. No, it won’t be a cure-all, because humans make mistakes not related to corruption or ineptitude. But really, it can’t be any worse than the “system” we have in place now, which begs for reform, because it sucks.

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