Armando Garcia is the Executive Officer of the California State Athletic Commission. Boxingtalk.com caught up with him and was able to discuss the circumstances surrounding last week's controversial decision in the Marco Antonio Barrera - Rocky Juarez fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The bout was announced to the crowd and the HBO audience as a draw but was changed about fifteen minutes later to a split decision win for Barrera. Now, Garcia goes over every detail with us. You can only find this interview here on Boxingtalk.com!
BT: Armando, first of all, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the events that transpired after the fight last Saturday. First, could you please explain to us the selection process for the three judges Ken Morita (US), Duane Ford (US), & Anek Hongtongkam (Thailand), who worked the Rocky Juarez-Marco Antonio Barrera fight.
AG: Prior to me selecting these judges, I consulted with both Golden Boy and Main Events. All three of the judges and the referee were approved by both promoters, before these officials knew they would be working the event.
BT: I realize this was a very close fight, with a few close rounds that could be scored either way. But I know you are a big proponent of consistency in scoring between all the judges and in this 12 round fight, there were 7 rounds scored inconsistently between the judges, that’s over 50%. Do you find this acceptable?
AG: No, when you have a 12 round fight, I expect 2 or 3 rounds to be inconsistent or scored differently. That obviously didn’t happen in this particular fight. With the 10-point must system and 12 rounds, all three scorecards ended up about the same. I know people see and score different things, but I would hope there would be 3 or fewer rounds different.
BT: Please take us through the sequence of events after the judgment was announced until it was changed. Were you the official who reevaluated the scorecards and made the correction?
AG: Yes. We always double-check them. One thing I didn’t say that night, is that we had a lot of things going on, but I don’t make excuses, I hold myself personally responsible for all the good the bad and the ugly. What happened that night was simply a human error. When I checked it and I noticed that the decision was different from what had been announced, I immediately wrote down the true scores, and I went to HBO. I saw that they appeared to be still on the air, so I couldn’t get into their area, because it was blocked off. So I went to Harold Lederman, and handed him the note and told him what happened. He immediately went over and told Mr. Lampley and Mr. Merchant. After that I collected the actual scorecards, I went and talked to the Juarez camp and then the Barrera camp. Then I went to the press area, and told the ½ dozen or so writers that were still there what happened, and then ran over to the press conference and they introduced me and I explained what happened.
BT: So it was actually you who did the double-checking of the scorecards?
BT: It’s been widely misreported that there was a miscalculation, or that the judges made a mistake. What actually happened is that the judges recorded their scores onto the round slips and the referee collected them, handed them to a scorekeeper who recorded them incorrectly onto the master score sheet. We’ve seen this score sheet since the fight; it is a corrected version where you had made scratch-outs.
AG: Yes, that is exactly correct. What changed the draw to a split decision was the 12th round of Morita. That was recorded wrong. It was human error. I absolutely guarantee you and the fans that I sat down with Main Events people and showed them each individual round scorecard and we laid them down and went thru them literally forwards and backwards one by one. I showed that’s exactly what it was (error recording, not error on scorecard), the scorecards were never manipulated, the chain of custody was never compromised, and the scorecards were never altered or bent in any way. It is what it is. I was talking with another person and they asked me ‘how many times do you think this has happened in boxing, and nobody had the balls to go tell boxing fans that a mistake was made?’ And I don’t have the answer to that, but I absolutely guarantee that with me, you get what you see and I don’t care where the chips fall, I tell the truth.
BT: What is the title of the person who records the scores onto the master score sheet.
AG: On that night, it was the Interim Assistant Chief Inspector.
BT: So, after the 12th round, the person was handed two 10-10’s and one 10-9 score slip, and recorded each of them as a 10-9 score?
AG: Yes, that is correct.
BT: You’ve shown these 12th round slips to the promoter, Main Events, and the public has seen the master score sheet which has the scratch-out correction. Are the individual score slips available for inspection and will you furnish copies to Boxingtalk.com to show to the fans?
AG: Yes, they are available and I will do my best to get those to you.
BT: Thank you very much for that. Now I must ask. Every time I talk with a boxing judge at ringside, I always ask them, ‘what constitutes a 10-10 round?’ and they always reply ‘it’s rare, there’s almost always a winner,’ that it’s near impossible to have a 10-10 round and it is more likely to occur during a round with very low activity and few punches thrown rather than a round with high activity like the 12th round was last Saturday. Then on top of that, in a close fight, how can TWO of the judges, surely knowing that they’ve scored the fight nearly even to that point, in good conscience score an even round in the final stanza!?
AG: It would be armchair quarterbacking for me to talk about their scoring. All can I say that, it was three judges with a wide variety of experience from three different states/countries on three different sides of the ring, and two of them scored it the same way. I can’t really say anything else.
BT: I understand that you don’t want to second-guess your judges, but as head of the commission, you are in charge of training and want consistency in scoring standards. You must not like to see that, a 10-10 round in such a close fight?
AG: The way it’s taught is that 10-10 rounds are very rare, but they do exist. I’m not sure about Mr. Morita, but if you look back at Duane Ford’s scoring history in Fight Fax, I believe you’ll be hard pressed to ever find a 10-10 round that he’s scored. Duane’s a damn good judge and in this particular case he saw it 10-10.
BT: Let’s turn to the refereeing. Barrera spit out his mouthpiece 3 times, without any point deductions, and he also hit Juarez with many rabbit punches that went un-penalized. Again, in a fight where 1 point would have changed the outcome, was the refereeing by Raul Caiz acceptable?
AG: Well actually, I think after the last time his mouthpiece came out, Caiz went to Barrera’s corner and told them that that was the last warning and that the next time there would be a point deduction. It’s at the referee’s discretion whether to deduct a point or not. Raul’s worked many, many title fights and he made that call. One has to be in the ring to made the determination if he purposely spit out his mouthpiece or not. Mr. Barrera’s not a dirty fighter, and he doesn’t have a history of being a dirty fighter. He gave an interesting explanation after the fight, that it was a new mouthpiece and it didn’t fit properly, and when the corner gave him his old mouthpiece, it stopping coming out. I accept that explanation. As far as Mr. Caiz’s decision to not take points, he’s exercised good judgment in the past, and in this case he didn’t make any point deductions because he didn’t feel that Barrera was intentionally spitting out his mouthpiece.
BT: Armando, as always, thank you very much for your openness, honesty and candidness. We appreciate your time and look forward to talking with you again down the road.
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