Disputed Decisions of the Past Are Well Remembered!
By Ken Hissner: On November 30th, 1976, this writer encountered the worst decision I have ever attended. Puerto Rico’s WBC World Super Featherweight champion Alfredo “Petro” Escalera came to Philadelphia’s Spectrum building before an indoor record-breaking crowd of 16,019, per promoter J Russell Peltz of Peltz Boxing.
Escalera, 36-7-2, was defending his title for the seventh time against Philadelphia’s southpaw Tyrone “The Mean Machine” Everett, 34-0. The judges were stacked in favor of the champion with voting referee Mexico’s Ray Solis, Puerto Rico’s Ismael Wiso Fernandez, with Pennsylvania’s Lou Tress.
I wasn’t writing at the time but remember at the end having Everett up 13-2 in rounds, losing those two rounds due to an accidental clash of heads causing a cut on Everett’s forehead bleeding down between his eyes.
Boxing judge Harold Lederman called the decision the most controversial and added “maybe history’s worst decision” in author Burt Sugar and Teddy Atlas’s 2010 book “The Ultimate Book of Boxing.”
In the end, with Everett dazzling Escalera, the scores were announced with Solis 148-146 for Escalera, 146-143 for Everett by Fernandez, and Tress with a 145-143 for Escalera. Tress would never judge another fight after this.
He probably got enough of a payoff to retire. A year and a half after the fight, Escalera was shot to death at age 24 after posting a pair of wins. At the time, a rematch was to be in July of 1977.
Both received cuts in the third round. In the fourth, Everett opened up the cut that Escalera received in the previous round. Everett landed a counter left, opening up a second cut, this one under the one over the eye of Escalera. By the end of the round, both were bleeding. Everett had famed Philly cutman Eddie Aliano in his corner. Referee Solis, between rounds, only inspected the corner of Everett.
Everett continued to use the full ring sticking his jab in the face of Escalera and moving away, having Escalera walking into counter punches. This is the way it went the entire fight. Escalera was warned for the second time for using his head by referee Solis in the eighth round. Escalera was missing more than connecting. As late as the twelfth round, Everett rocked Escalera.
In the thirteenth round, the cut was caused by a clash of heads when Escalera came out of a crouch bringing his head up into the forehead of Everett. Everett was still scoring well in the round. The ring physician was called in by the referee between rounds. After the fourteenth round in reviewing this bout on film, it was announced by a commentator two of the local reporters had Everett ahead by a wide margin.
In the fifteenth and final round, Everett opened up another cut over the left eye of Escalera. A desperate Escalera was missing with wide punches while getting his head knocked back by an Everett jab early in the round. As the bell sounded and the fans were awaiting the decision, Everett’s brother Mike entered the ring though scheduled in the next bout. Announcer Darian read off the two votes for Escalera first. The fans booed for several minutes.
Another time I remember when I had lunch with legendary manager Jim Jacobs in New York, and he said of all the fight films in his collection, he had Philadelphia’s Harold Johnson losing his title to Willie Pastrano in June of 1963 by split decision in Las Vegas, Nevada.
One’s that stand out to me were the first Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr., and Mexico’s WBC Lightweight champion Jose “El Terrible” Luis Castillo in April of 2002. It was close enough there was a rematch eight months later with the decision again in favor of Mayweather. The scoring was closer than in their first match.
Another controversial decision was Andre “S.O.G. being “given” the win over WBA, WBO, and IBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, with all three judges scoring it 114-113 for Ward.
Seven months later, a rematch had the fight 2-1 in Ward’s favor when he went to the body of Kovalev, stopping him in the eighth round. Ward would retire after this bout.
It seems like another champion in Lennox “The Lion” Lewis, who would retire after a fight with future champion Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko, who couldn’t come out for the seventh round due to a cut.
He was ahead 58-56 on all three cards at the time. Lewis was not interested in a rematch.
I’m sure you fans have your own favorites that you remember, so please mention them in the comments section.
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