Shady officiating robs Filipino boxer Randy Petalcorin in Australia

Ryan Songalia
Shady officiating robs Filipino boxer Randy Petalcorin in Australia
Randy Petalcorin is denied 4 knockdown calls which would have swayed the decision in his favor against Omari Kimweri

MANILA, Philippines – An atrocious refereeing job marred what was an otherwise competitive boxing fight between Filipino boxer Randy Petalcorin and Australia-based Tanzanian Omari Kimweri in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday night, April 14.

At least 4 knockdowns which should have been credited to Petalcorin were not acknowledged by Australian referee Malcolm Bulner, costing Petalcorin a split decision loss and the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) silver flyweight title.  

Many who viewed footage of the fight are calling it hometown officiating and highway robbery, but for Petalcorin, who entered the fight rated number two at 108 pounds by The Ring magazine, the word that describes his feelings is disappointment.

“It feels horrible. I came to win,” said Petalcorin, 24, of Davao City, Philippines. “During the fight, I was already discouraged about the officiating of the ref plus they announced that I’m losing. But I fought on.”

Petalcorin (23-2-1, 18 knockouts), a former WBA interim junior flyweight titleholder who is regarded as one of the most promising young Filipino boxers today, was shaking off inactivity after having fought just one round in 2015.

He knocked Kimweri (16-3, 6 KOs) to the canvas in round one on a left hand to the head, and should have been credited two knockdowns in round 7 after the ropes kept Kimweri from falling out of the ring as the result of a punch twice. The same situation occurred in round 12, and once again there was no knockdown called. 

According to WBC rules for championship fights, “if the ropes prevent a fighter from going down, the referee will call it a knockdown.”

“I saw 4 knockdowns, clear ones myself,” said Peter Maniatis, an Australian boxing veteran who co-manages Petalcorin alongside Jim Claude Manangquil. “Why would the referee not call it a knockdown, and then why would he push Randy away and ask Kimweri if he’s OK? What rulebook is that from?” 

Bulner’s wife Samantha was one of the judges for the fight, and was one of the two judges who scored the fight 115-112 in favor of the local fighter. A third scored Petalcorin the winner by the tally 114-113. 

In a conversation on Facebook, the event’s promoter Brian Amatruda responded defiantly when asked to comment on the video of the missed knockdowns.

“Oh well complain all you want, the decision won’t change. Omar won and that’s it,” responded Amatruda, who handles Kimweri. Amatruda cites a point deduction in round 10 as proof that the referee was on the level, though the deduction for hitting on the break came after WBC open scoring revealed a lead for Kimweri after round 8. 

Kimweri was not penalized for hitting Petalcorin following a slip to the canvas in round one nor was he penalized for hitting Petalcorin after the bell to end round 3.

The video compiling the 4 knockdowns was shared on Facebook nearly 200 times in 17 hours after being posted and has been viewed nearly 15,000 times as of this story’s publication. One person claiming to be associated with the event’s production messaged this writer asking that the video, which is 50 seconds in duration, be deleted. This writer cited fair use and was blocked from further correspondence on Facebook afterwards.

“Nice cut and paste there mate your (sic) just missing 1 word. Morals,” the person replied.  

Maniatis said he plans to file a protest with the WBC, which sanctioned the fight, and seeks to have the fight ruled a no contest and an immediate rematch ordered.

“I think the WBC needs to do this just to restore credibility,” he said.

A phone call to the Combat Sports Unit of the Victoria State Government was not answered on Saturday afternoon, while an email sent to WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman seeking comment was not immediately responded to. –

Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RyanSongalia.

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