MANILA, Philippines – The World Boxing Council admitted the referee made mistakes in his officiating during the Randy Petalcorin vs Omari Kimweri fight, but said the result will remain even after a review of the controversial bout.
The fight, which took place April 15 in Melbourne, Australia, sparked outrage from reporters and fans after a video showing 4 missed knockdowns scored by Petalcorin went viral online. Had the knockdowns been called, the Filipino boxer Petalcorin would have won a unanimous decision. Instead the Australia-based Kimweri won the fight by split decision.
The bout was for the WBC “silver” flyweight title, which is a secondary belt offered by the Mexico-based organization.
In an email to Rappler.com, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman admitted that a ring officials committee did rule that the knockdowns were missed, but chalked them up to mistakes by referee Malcolm Bulner, who like the 3 judges is from Melbourne.
A YouTube video of the missed knockdowns has been viewed over 22,000 times since being posted on April 17.
“The WBC ring officials committee will handle the necessary disciplinary actions in place. There were actions considered as knockdowns but also it is easy to see it was wrong mechanics and not bad faith actions from ref,” said Sulaiman.
Sulaiman cited a point deduction in round 10 against Kimweri as absolving Bulner of “any doubt of favoritism,” though the deduction came a round after open scoring revealed Kimweri to have a working lead on the scorecards.
In one instance, Bulner could be heard on the fight’s video warning Kimweri that he would call a knockdown the next time the boxer sat on the bottom rope while taking punches. According to WBC rules for championship fights, “if the ropes prevent a fighter from going down, the referee will call it a knockdown.”
A WBC release addressing the protest titled “WBC Congratulates Omari Kimweri and Randy Petalcorin” chose to highlight the fight’s “extremely competitive” nature instead of its controversy.
The release stated that the WBC silver flyweight title would be vacated, with Petalcorin being offered a consolation fight against silver junior flyweight (108 pounds) titleholder Ricardo Perez of Mexico, and Kimweri offered the same deal against the 105-pound equivalent Janiel Rivera.
“The natural course of action would be to order a rematch. However, both camps have now advised the WBC that their boxers no longer wish to compete in the flyweight division,” said the release.
Sulaiman added that the anti-doping tests administered by the Victoria Boxing Commission “were reported by the local commission as negative.”
The loss was the first for Petalcorin (23-2-1, 18 knockouts) since 2010, though the defeat did not affect his no. 2 ranking by THE RING at 108 pounds. Kimweri is now 16-3 (6 KOs). – Rappler.com