The worst controversies so far of 2017 SEA Games boxing
MANILA, Philippines – Southeast Asian Games boxing is a small tournament as far as world boxing events are concerned. But boxers of the 11 member-nations love it, because it gives them a chance to win international medals with the eyes of their nation on them.
But when corruption is introduced, it goes against the spirit of the multi-sport event, which is to bring neighboring countries together, and promote the development of sport in building world-class competition. Corruption victimizes the hard-working athletes who are trying to bring pride to their country and put food on their families' tables with the medal bonuses they receive.
In boxing, a sport with subjective scoring, controversy is omnipresent, but some things are too flagrant to be considered a matter of subjectivity. The way that television cameras and livestreaming work, we can see it happening, and the brazenness of some of these tactics has been an insult both to the integrity of the sport, and the intelligence of the observer.
The 2017 SEA Games has had its share of controversy, both with in-ring officiating, and the unusual scorecards turned in from ringside.
Perhaps it's just a coincidence that Malaysia, the host nation which has not won a boxing gold since 2009, has been the primary benificiary of the suspicious behavior of the AIBA (International Boxing Association) officials.
Or maybe it isn't.
Months before the Games began, there was the elimination of women's boxing - an Olympic sport since 2012 - which led to 4-time gold medalist Josie Gabuco being excluded from Kuala Lumpur. That was no small dismerit to the SEA Games.
There had been smaller controversies, like Olympians Chatchai Butdee and Charly Suarez managing just split decisions despite dropping and dominating their opponents in the preliminaries. But for brevity's sake, we've narrowed it down to the bigger ones.
Before the finals begin today, Thursday, August 24, at 3 pm, take a look at some of the most difficult controversies to overlook. And let's hope this compilation doesn't have to be updated later on.
Referee gives Malaysian middleweight extra time to recover
Philippine boxer Eumir Marcial had hoped to avenge his close friend and teammate Carlo Paalam's dubious points loss to Malaysia's Muhamad Fuad Redzuan in his opening match. We'll get to that one later.
Indran Ramakrishnan, the Malaysian middleweight Marcial met in the semifinals on Tuesday, August 22, was knocked down midway through the first round on a right hook from the 2015 welterweight gold medalist.
Referee Bazarbaev Dulat of Kazakhstan gave Ramakrishnan the standard 8-count, then, in one of the most baffling scenes conceivable, decided to have the fighter's face wiped down. First, he took the fighter wearing an all-blue outfit to the red corner, turned to Marcial to tell him to wait in a neutral corner, then took him to the blue corner to have them wipe his face. All in all, the knocked down fighter was given an additional 20 seconds or so to recover.
PH boxer Marcial drops Malaysian boxer Ramakrishnan in SEA Games. Shady ref gives local boxer extra 20 seconds to recover and wipe sweat. pic.twitter.com/9RSLB8Xqj8— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) August 23, 2017
But a mismatch is a mismatch, and Marcial landed several more punches when action resumed to force a second standing 8-count and the RSC (referee stops contest, the amateur version of a TKO).
There is making a mistake, and then there is actively helping one of the boxers. This behavior by Dulat was highly inappropriate and cannot be excused.
Redzuan wins dubious decision over Paalam
The opening match of the light flyweight quarterfinals saw Filipino boxer Carlo Paalam, a gold medalist in this year's President's Cup in Kazakhstan and a bronze medalist in last year's World Youth Championships, get jobbed out of a decision against the local fighter, Muhamad Redzuan.
After a tame, if not inartistic first round to their quarterfinal match on Monday, Paalam started connecting cleaner in the second round, bouncing on his toes and firing clean combinations. Redzuan, game but lacking polish, reverted to many of the tactics he used in his loss to Rogen Ladon in the last SEA Games, throwing Paalam to the canvas several times, and landing on top of his opponent.
The referee, once again Bazarbaev Dulat, missed a knockdown call when a right hand landed from Paalam that preceded Redzuan's trip to the mat.
In the 3rd round, Redzuan dove in and pushed the heel of his glove into Paalam's face. Dulat issued a warning, not to Redzuan, but to Paalam.
Malaysian boxer Muhamad Redzuan dives in, uses the heel of his glove on PH boxer Carlo Paalam. Referee warns Filipino boxer instead pic.twitter.com/dhOtZ3dnB9— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) August 21, 2017
Despite Paalam's cleaner punching, Redzuan was awarded a 5-0 decision from the judges. Bernama, the Malaysian state news organization, reported that Redzuan had "knocked out" Paalam. No, just no.
Laos boxer penalized for Redzuan's foul
Redzuan found himself in controversy again in his semifinal match against Laos boxer Lasavongsy Bounpone.
In the second round, Redzuan pulled down Bounpone's head and held it, but it was the Laos boxer who got a point deducted by Myanmar referee Naing.
Malaysian boxer Muhamad Redzuan holds Laos boxer behind head. Laos boxer loses a point. Referees working overtime to help SEAG host nation pic.twitter.com/PKBhQxeL3M— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) August 22, 2017
Redzuan did drop Buonpone in the first round with a clean punch and would have deserved the victory either way. He didn't need the referee's help, but he got it anyways. – Rappler.com