WBA suspends Judge Gloria Martinez Rizzo, who here thinks that’s enough of a punishment?
The so-called wheels of justice move snail-slow in the boxing sphere, that is, if they don’t stay stuck in place and prove resistant to efforts employed to make things right, and rectify wrongs.
A response by the WBA to the Aug. 7 Mykal Fox-Gabriel Maestre fight which took place in Minnesota, and prompted howls of disgust from watchers who saw Fox out-boxing Maestre has been furnished, and in the boxing realm, that constitues a swift reaction.
Swift, yes, but severe enough?
On Thursday morning, we learned via a Mike Coppinger/ESPN story that WBA president Gilberto Mendoza is suspending judge Gloria Martinez Rizzo for her performance on the Fox-Maestre clash, for a period of six months.
Martinez Rizzo deemed the Colombian-born Venezuelan Maestre a 117-111 winner in a Premier Boxing Champions clash for the WBA “interim world title,” got scorched in the court of online public opinion when analyst Corey Erdman posted a collection of social media posts from the judge which came off as unhinged, and racist to boot. Now, Mendoza, who heads up the sanctioning collective which is based in Panama, says he will meet with Rizzo today, in Miami, to hash out sanctions for her scorecard, and behavior in the cyber world.
The judge’s attacks directed at people she perceives as ideological enemies gave pause to some inside the game–they wonder if the hateful statements Martinez Rizzo made toward people like Michele Obama indicate a heated bias against black people, and might have influenced her when she was tasked with scoring fights.
I touched based briefly with Mendoza on Wednesday evening, and asked him to comment on a charge leveled by Yahoo reporter Kevin Iole (see below).
“I do not manage Maestre or any other boxer,” Mendoza told me. “Never, ever earn money from boxing or boxers.”
“We saw her score was wrong despite the unanimous decision,” Mendoza told Coppinger. “Those comments she made in the past — she might be expelled by the WBA. I don’t support any kind of racism. I believe in equality. … Sports are the only thing that brings equality into the world sometimes.”
A six month “suspension,” and the floating of the possibility the judge who was named WBA female judge of the year in 2019, will that do much of anything to fix a deep and dark systemic problem?
“This sport has introduced me to people from different walks of life,” the 25 year old Maryland resident Mykal Fox (22-3, 5 KOs) told Coppinger when he learned of the WBA punishment of the runaway judge. “But I can’t help but wonder if the person that she is outside of boxing affects how she judges boxing.”
I’m basically a boxing lifer, I’ve been covering the sport since the mid 90s. So I admit that my level of confidence that Mendoza’s response promises that things will stay basically the same, that the wheels will stay stuck.
“We are going to take a closer look at the judging overall, because something has obviously gone wrong, so we are looking into it,” Gilberto Mendoza told Joe Santoliquito of The Ring earlier in the week. “We’re also trying to reduce the number of titles for all weight classes. We have to get new judges. I’m really concerned with what is happening. This controversy has released a red flag and it has alerted me. We need to make this clean for the public to see and we definitely want to reduce the number of titles. We’re going to do something about this.”
It is concerning, frankly, if this judging misstep was the thing which alerted Mendoza that the issue is a glaring and gaping malignancy which severely saps credibility from the sport. And Mendoza saying “We want to reduce the number of titles” is more grounds for concern. Mendoza can put out the word and immediately, the WBA could with the wave of a wand reduce the ludicrous and embarassing pile-up of titles supported by the WBA. Just do it, don’t promise it, don’t threaten it, and don’t act as if it’s something you aspire to: just do it, Gilberto.
It’s not just me; people like Erdman are staying on top of this debacle, and continuing to find behavior which is iffy, at best. (See example below).
Just once, why don’t we see an “oversight” body make a decision which is seen as commendable, for its boldness, and is above and beyond in speaking to the need for ethical and moral overhauling in this too often suspect sport? Why is the WBA talking about ordering a Fox-Maestre rematch, which allows the decision to stand? Why don’t we basically ever see a decision like this one overturned? Is that “too complicated,” does it potentially open up cans of worms? Or do these decisions occur and not get over turned because casual corruption is so common?
Mendoza talks about starting an academy which will bring in fans who like boxing to be judges. We don’t need an academy, we need common sense change NOW.
Why haven’t he and other sanctioning body show-runners come up with improvements to a system which is clearly broken to anyone paying even a thimble-full of attention? Bring in not fans, for chrissake, but current and former boxers, who aren’t dabblers and friends of the sanctioning bodies who do this as a fun side-hustle which gives them the chance to travel and be on TV a few times a year, that’s my view.
“I’m really concerned with what is happening” and “We’re going to do something about this,” Mendoza says. Me, I’m dubious, because so far, that isn’t the vibe I’m getting at all.
But let me end on an up note. I asked Mykal Fox for his reaction to the WBA putting Martinez Rizzo on the bench for half a year and ordering an immediate rematch. “I think it was the right thing to do,” Fox told me. “For me and fighters in the future.”