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Schaefer Was Calm in Storm

September 20, 2003|STEVE SPRINGER

Somehow, above the ranting and raving from Bob Arum, above the cries of protest from Oscar De La Hoya, above the booming outrage from George Foreman, above all the whining and wailing from the De La Hoya camp, the soft, soothing voice of Richard Schaefer was heard.

After all the fingers had been pointed and all the hints had been dropped and all the insinuations had been leveled, it was Schaefer who looked over the alleged evidence, found nothing more than a procedural error at best and put out the word: Drop it.

Whatever De La Hoya is paying Schaefer, his business manager, he's getting his money's worth.

De La Hoya and Arum and the rest of the fighter's handlers were understandably upset last Saturday night after De La Hoya lost a close but unanimous decision to Shane Mosley in their super-welterweight title fight at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The three judges all scored the fight 115-113 for Mosley, who won the first meeting between the fighters three years ago at Staples Center on a split decision. An informal poll of ringside writers Saturday night revealed 16 of 24 had Mosley winning.

All in the pay-per-view broadcast crew thought De La Hoya had won and, led by Foreman, were quite vocal about it. And that helped influence the viewing public, most of whom rely on someone else's expertise since they don't literally pull out pen and paper and keep score. The punch stats were decidedly in De La Hoya's favor, adding to the controversy.

It certainly would be fair to question the decision. It was a close fight, the kind of fight where one punch might decide a round, one round the fight.

If De La Hoya had yelled, "I was robbed," the mantra of every boxer who ever lost a close decision, he would have gotten some sympathy and support.

Instead, he announced he would launch an "investigation" into the scoring, the insinuation being that there might have been some sort of wrongdoing.

Arum went even further. He promised to produce damaging evidence. He said, "This has never, ever, ever happened before."

He claimed the betting line had mysterious shifted a full two points in the closing days before the fight, which wasn't true. He spoke about a member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Flip Homansky, who, he said, was out to get him. Arum accused Marc Ratner, the executive director of the commission and one of the most respected men in boxing, of "lying," and then changed it to say Ratner "disassembled the facts." Arum vowed to never again promote in Nevada unless betting on boxing was outlawed or a federal commission was formed to regulate the sport.

Arum's evidence turned out to be a letter of protest from the World Boxing Assn., one of the sanctioning bodies for the fight, because Ratner, with the commission's approval, had not selected one of the judges the WBA had suggested. Instead, Ratner, saying he didn't feel those judges were qualified, picked Stanley Christodoulou of South Africa, who had represented the WBA in the past.

WBA official Renzo Bagnariol conceded that Christodoulou "is one of the best officials that we have." Arum himself had praised Christodoulou in an interview on XTRA radio the day before the fight.

And Arum knows that neither he nor the WBA can do more than offer input into the selection of judges. The final decision rests solely with the Nevada commission.

Schaefer looked over the evidence. He heard the rumblings through the boxing community. De La Hoya, who has spent years building his shining image as the Golden Boy, was being portrayed as a sore loser, a warrior in the ring who had become a whiner outside the ropes.

And this wasn't the first time. When Mosley beat De La Hoya three years ago, De La Hoya had also insinuated that the fix was in, but then he hinted that Arum himself might have had something to do with it.

This time, more was at stake than just a decision. De La Hoya and Schaefer hope their Golden Boy promotional company will be around long after De La Hoya has hung up his gloves. But for Golden Boy to prosper, the organization will have to deal with the Nevada commission on numerous occasions.

And Golden Boy fighters in the future may well face the same judges being attacked by De La Hoya and Arum. Consciously, those commission officials and judges may not let the charges of today affect their decisions in the future. But subconsciously, judging someone who has at least hinted you are corrupt just might affect your actions.

So Schaefer, after inspecting the evidence, suggested that all concerned cool the rhetoric. De La Hoya and Arum quickly issued conciliatory statements, attempting to put this ugly episode behind them.

But rival promoter Dan Goossen isn't ready to let Arum off so easily.

"He is trying to destroy a great event because he came out on the losing end," Goossen said. "What he is doing is again bringing our industry to its knees.

"Instead of admitting Mosley won and pushing for a rematch, Bob is throwing the word 'corruption' out there because he's used to saying that word the way most people say 'hello.' If you don't know Bob's history, you might take his claims as fact. What happened was no different than a runner sliding home in a close game. The umpire says he's out and other people say he's safe. There was nothing corrupt in that fight.

"I don't want to see Bob Arum, in his final years in boxing, take the industry with him."


Quick Jab

Lightweights Rolando Reyes (18-2-2, 12 knockouts) of Oxnard and Omar Bernal (25-2-2, 7) of Mexico are matched up in the 10-round main event tonight at the Arrowhead Pond. The semi-main event is a 10-rounder between welterweights Carlos Baldomir (39-9-6, 11) of Argentina and Edgar Ruiz (18-5-1, 11) of Mexico. In a six-round match, undefeated super-lightweight Dmitriy Salita (13-0, 10) puts his record on the line against Joey Bartole (8-2, 5). First bell is at 7 p.m.

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