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Arum Will File Protest Over Judges

Promoter is claiming 'improprieties' in the selection of two of the three who gave Mosley a unanimous decision over De La Hoya.

September 16, 2003|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

Boxing promoter Bob Arum, claiming "improprieties" in the selection of two of the three judges in Saturday night's Oscar De La Hoya-Shane Mosley super-welterweight title fight, will file a protest with the Nevada State Athletic Commission within a week.

Arum maintains that the two judges -- Stanley Christodoulou of South Africa representing the World Boxing Assn. and Anek Hongthongkam of Thailand representing the World Boxing Council -- were picked by the Nevada commission without the approval of their respective sanctioning organizations.

Specifically, said Arum, the selections were made by Commissioner Flip Homansky, who denied that.

Speaking from his home in Nicaragua, Renzo Bagnariol, WBA championship committee chairman, confirmed that he had sent a letter of protest, dated Aug. 27, to Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada commission, after Christodoulou was selected despite the fact he wasn't on a list submitted by the WBA.

"In the letter," said Bagnariol, "I said we were not taking responsibility for any controversy or problem with the fight because we didn't have a chance to share in the approval. I asked the commission to reconsider."

Speaking from Mexico City, WBC President Jose Sulaiman said Hongthongkam was on a list submitted by his organization, but wouldn't comment further on Arum's charges until after a review of the controversy by the WBC's board of governors.

De La Hoya lost both his WBC and WBA titles on a unanimous decision at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday.

Christodoulou, Hongthongkam and a third judge, Duane Ford of Las Vegas, all scored the fight 115-113 for Mosley.

The Nevada commission is not legally obligated to use the recommendations of the sanctioning bodies, but Arum, who as a promoter has the right of approval of the judges, said he must be informed if prospective judges are not recommended, and he was not informed.

"This has never, ever, ever happened before," said Arum.

He has directed Los Angeles-based attorney Bert Fields to work with a Nevada attorney in preparing the protest.

"On certain fights, I will recommend the use of only Nevada officials," said Ratner, who has been with the Nevada commission for 20 years and in his present position for 11 years. "For a fight like this, I decided to bring in two international judges. The judges we brought in had impeccable credentials."

Bagnariol said he submitted a list of six officials, two from South America, two from Europe and two from Japan.

"We sent that list to the commission and we never heard from them. They didn't get back to us [until informing the WBA that Christodoulou had been picked]," said Bagnariol.

"As far as I was concerned, we had a problem. We don't like them going over us like that even though Stanley is one of the best officials we have."

Ratner said he didn't feel anybody on the list submitted by the WBA was qualified.

"They had not done fights of this magnitude," he said. "I wasn't going to bring in an unknown. I wouldn't have been doing my duty."

Christodoulou, on the other hand, had been a judge for the first heavyweight title fight between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield in 1999, which ended in a controversial draw. Most ringside observers thought Lewis had won. Christodoulou was the only judge to agree.

Ratner said that he not only informed the WBC that Hongthongkam was the commission's choice, but asked WBC officials to notify Hongthongkam because the official from Thailand does not speak English.

"Ratner is lying," said Arum. "Or rather, he's disassembling [the facts]. Hongthongkam does speak some English."

Arum said the WBC wanted to use referee John Keane of England.

"We were deceived totally and completely," Arum said. "They bypassed the sanctioning bodies. Something smells here."

Said Sulaiman, "I would prefer not to talk any further about this until I receive a full report on the fight."

Bagnariol maintained that the commission did not follow proper procedure in selecting Christodoulou. "They should understand," he said, "the law gives us the right of approval."

Ratner disputed that contention.

"The sanctioning bodies submit a list, but the final selection is always ours," he said. "We take their input, but we don't have to get their approval."

Homansky said he has never spoken to a WBA official about a judge. He said he did talk to Sulaiman, who provided the list that contained Hongthongkam's name. "Ultimately," said Homansky, "Marc Ratner decides on the officials with our approval and he does an excellent job."

Ratner said the sanctioning bodies are allowed to submit lists out of courtesy because it is their titles being contested.

"My goal," he said, "is to have a pool of officials not beholden to anyone. That is the way I would like to do it, and I hope to see it done that way someday."

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