After the fight: The inexcusable boxing theft of Mykal Fox


The boxing world was outraged after Gabriel Maestre received a gift decision over Mykal Fox. Details regarding a judge make it a theft of epic proportions. 

Poor judging in boxing is nothing new. There tends to be one judge in many close fights that completely messes up and draws the outrage of boxing fans and pundits. What happened on Saturday, Aug. 7, between Mykal Fox and Gabriel Maestre goes far beyond the incompetence of a single judge.

Maestre was supposed to fight Cody Crowley for the interim WBA welterweight title, one of many belts supplied by the WBA. Crowley testes positive for COVID-19 a little over a week before the fight, and Fox was selected as the replacement.

Against Maestre, Fox put on a boxing clinic. He utilized his 6-foot-3 frame against the much shorter Maestre. He even dropped Maestre in the second round. Fox should have been the recipient of the WBA belt by a comfortable unanimous decision, but somehow all three judges awarded the victory to Maestre.

Before the decision was read, I had the feeling that shenanigans from the judges might throw this fight to Maestre. Fox was likely selected because Masestre’s handlers didn’t think he had a shot.

Fox surprised them and the two-time Olympian Maestre with the way he fought. I fired off a tweet moments before the decision, hoping that Fox didn’t fall victim to a Texas-like ripoff decision.

My gut feeling proved prophetic as the judges inexplicably returned scores of 115-112, 114-113, and 117-110 for Maestre. Fox was absolutely ripped off and done dirty by all three judges. The first two were close but still ridiculous. The last one from Gloria Martinez Rizzo was criminal.

Little by little, boxing writers started to dig into Rizzo’s past and uncovered many reasons to suspect outright dereliction of duty and corruption on her part.

In the early hours of the morning of Aug. 8, hours after Fox vs. Maestre, boxing commentator and writer Corey Erdman composed a Twitter thread evidencing Rizzo’s lack of character, borderline illiteracy, and racist rhetoric.

Rizzo’s vile tweets were there in the open for the entire WBA to see, yet she was allowed to continue with her job with no consequence. That changed when her unfathomable score raised eyebrows and prompted people to look beyond coincidence.

It should be noted that Rizzo deleted her Twitter account once the boxing world discovered her racist and election fraud conspiracy tweets.

Rizzo’s score seems to come from an ugly place within her soul tainted with prejudice and fraud. As people looked further into her past, they discovered that her husband has strong connections to the WBA, and as Erdman reminded us, was once accused of seeking bribes while working as a WBO official.

It also came to light that one of Maestre’s team members was a WBA photographer.

As these problematic facts arose, the WBA and its president Gilberto Mendoza Jr. could offer up nothing more than the following impotent statement: “The review of the fight was ordered immediately. Based on the preliminary scorecards received indicates a direct rematch could be ordered. The judges, who were also accepted by the Minnesota Commission, will be interviewed individually.”

Gloria Martinez Rizzo’s name is permanently damaged as a person and as a judge, but so is the WBA’s reputation

Rizzo’s score was the lightning rod that got people to pay attention to a seriously nefarious WBA organization. Accusations about the WBA’s dealings go back decades. A 1981 article in Sports Illustrated accused the WBA of paying off judges and officials.

“The trouble is, some officials have been told, either subtly or directly, that either they lean in the right direction or the excellent pay and the all-expenses-paid trips around the world will go to more cooperative judges and referees,” read the Sports Illustrated article. ” This is as wrong as a straight buyout.”

Rizzo appears rotten to the core in more ways than one, but judges John Mariano and David Singh also scored the bout for Maestre. Their scores weren’t as awful as Rizzo’s, but their ethics need to be questioned along with the WBA’s.

Maestre came to the ring with illegally taped gloves. Fox’s father and trainer Troy Fox noticed it moments before the fight in the ring, and referee Mark Nelson forced Maestre’s gloves to be re-taped. He even questioned who signed off on the tape job. The WBA hasn’t mentioned this transgression once or any plans to discipline Maestre.

How is Maestre fighting for an interim title in just his fourth fight? Yes, he’s a two-time Olympian, but that doesn’t mean he’s worthy of a title fight. He’s rated by as the 123rd best welterweight in the world, but magically the WBA has him as fourth.

How is that possible?

You would have to ask the WBA to answer that question, but the general answer is that sanctioning bodies can do whatever they want. How they arrive at their rankings is still a mystery to me, but they’re a business. Money lies at the center of every business.

All of the sanctioning bodies are guilty of playing favorites and shady practices, but it just happens that the WBA is the most egregious of them all. I cite the result of Fox vs. Maestre as just one example.

Writer Pat Putnam had his own problems with ethics, but even he could diagnose the flaws within boxing’s sanctioning bodies and the only solution to their ills.

“Only a strong federal boxing commissioner empowered to supervise all state and local commissions, the argument goes, can bring the sport to the high level of honesty and respect it deserves,” wrote Putnam for Sports Illustrated.” The federal commissioner must be armed with a clear-cut set of rules and have the legal muscle to penalize abusers.”

The answer was as clear in 1981 as it is today in 2021.

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