December 5, 1999
By Joe Bruno---Former Vice President of the Boxing
Writers Association and the International Boxing Writers Association
1999 was a year of rancid decisions in boxing, so why not add one more
debacle to the list.
IBF Junior welterweight champion Fernando Vargas was given an early
Christmas present by the crooked IBF (is that phrase redundant?) judges on
December 4 in Lincoln (Not Honest Abe, of course) City, Oregon. Vargas faced
rugged veteran Ronald "Winky" Wright the Chinook Winds Casino, and after 12
grueling rounds, Vargas was awarded a majority decision this reporter thought
he didn’t even come close to deserving. Judge Dave (Hedger) Hess scored the
bout 114-114, a draw. But Judge Jim (Highwayman) Howard had it 115-113 and
judge Debra (Blind Woman ) Barnes saw it 116-112 both in favor of Vargas.
The fight was seen on HBO After Dark and Vargas is an HBO fighter, so the
wrongful decision was not totally unexpected. But even HBO’s shrill shill
boxing judge Harold Letterman had the fight 115-113 (7-5 in rounds) in favor
of Wright. This reporter scored the fight 116-112 (8-4 in rounds) in favor of
Wright, but even before the decision was announced, I knew there was no way
an HBO house fighter, in whom HBO has invested big- time bucks, would ever
exit the ring an official loser.
With a reputation as a fighter that relies on movement, Wright stood in
front of Vargas the entire bout and was willing to trade power punches along
the ropes or in the middle of the ring. Almost in every round, the southpaw
Wright landed at will with a sharp right jab. Vargas threw bunches of punches
throughout the fight, but most were blocked by Wright’s highly-held gloves.
After the fight, a battered Vargas, now 18-0 with 17 KO’s, told HBO
pontificating-commentator Larry Merchant he’d make no excuses for his poor
performance, then in the next breath he blabbered on to do exactly that. "I
had some personal problems in camp and I could not train right," Vargas
whined to Merchant. "I couldn't cancel the fight, so what could I do? I had
Wright fell to 39-3, but was convinced he was the better man. "I won
that fight, I dominated that fight. I blocked all his shots and beat him at
his fight. I knew if I boxed him they would say that I ran all night. So I
slugged it out and he didn't hurt me at all. I know I won this fight. ... I
knew if I didn't knock him down or out I probably wouldn't win."
Right again Winky.
The fight HBO and it’s machiavellian monarch Seth "The Shrimp" Abraham
wants to desperately make, and could not afford to lose, is Vargas against
former welterweight champion Ike Quartey, who was seen sitting smiling
confidently at ringside. This horrendous decision allows them to do exactly
that, hopefully not on pay-per-view.
Ah the business of boxing. The stench persists, right into the 21st