Boxing

Irish Boxing Should Be On Red Alert For More Judging Bullshit As Conlan Fights Russian

Irish Boxing Should Be On Red Alert For More Judging Bullshit As Conlan Fights Russian

Needless to say it's been a tumultuous couple of weeks for Irish boxing, which is currently experiencing its own personal '2007 Rugby World Cup' in Rio.

Our record-breaking crop of fighters has been decimated for a variety of reasons, not least a number of controversial if not exactly scandalous judging decisions - including Katie Taylor's exit on countback to Finland's Mira Potkonen yesterday afternoon. Only world champion bantamweight Michael Conlan remains of the eight which departed for Brazil.

Naturally, it hasn't only been Ireland who have fallen foul to the odd officiating shit-show. Last night, however, the real scandal: Russian Evegny Tischenko was announced as unanimous decision winner over Kazakh fighter Vassily Levit, who had systematically dominated his victorious opponent.

The first minute of the final round not inclusive, Levit was the better fighter in every department. He won gold last night, but departed with silver, duly stuffing the medal in his pocket as he exited the arena. Tischenko was booed vigorously from when the decision was announced until he collected his medal.

Contrary to his BBC counterpart, RTÉ boxing commentator Hugh Cahill called the decision a 'robbery'.

That's horrendous. That's an horrendous decision. An absolute robbery. It just goes to show you, we'd don't know what fight these judges were watching. We've seen a few horrific decisions over the last few days.

There is now way Evegny Tischenko did enough. He can't believe it. It's almost apologetic.

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It was one of the worst decisions in the history of Olympic boxing, which is frankly saying something.

Tischenko was the third Russian fighter to receive what for legal purposes must be described as 'the benefit of the doubt' during these Games. Later the same night, Billy Walsh watched his women's lightweight talent Mikaela Mayer exit to a Russian opponent in what admittedly was a closer contest. Walsh, however, was having none of it, telling reporters:

To be honest, I've just had a look at the judging. It was crazy. Are they looking at the same bloody fight or what?

The judges certainly weren't watching the same fight as the general boxing public on Sunday, as another Russian fighter conspicuously lost a fight before disgracefully progressing on the scorecards.

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That Russian, Vladimir Nikitin, faces Ireland's Michael Conlan at 3:30pm today.

The 26-year-old saw off Conlan in the 2013 World Championships, though his Belfast opponent was debuting in the bantamweight division at the time. As he's filled out since, Conlan has improved exponentially as a fighter - picking up Commonwealth, European and World gold medals and in turn becoming one of Ireland's greatest ever pugilists.

Nikitin, though a quality operator with 14 WSB victories from 15 fights under his belt, enters today's contest as the underdog. Barring more funny business from the judges, or the less likely event of a total non-performance from Conlan, the Russian's Olympic campaign should be halted at the hands of Ireland later this evening.

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Should.

Rarely have we seen the outcome of a fight face such intense scrutiny long before the first punch has even landed.

Prior to the Games, The Guardian warned of the possibility of widespread corruption and the fixing of fights in Rio. One senior figure told the newspaper that there was “no doubt” some of the judges and referees “will be corrupted”. The person in question also alleged that a group of referees convene before major championships to decide how to score certain bouts.

Almost every recent Olympics has featured judging controversies - perhaps none more infamous than Seoul '88 when home favourite Park Si-hun 'beat' Roy Jones Jr in a light middleweight contest.

It seems extraordinary that Russia has seemingly managed to manufacture home-ring advantage a full 15,000km away from, well, home. All eyes will be on the AIBA and its judges this afternoon as Ireland's last remaining medal hope takes to a squared circle which has once more been tarred by boxing bullshit. We can only hope he doesn't get 'Roy Jonesed' as Kazakh heavy Vassily Levit was last night.

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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