Robbery of the Year Nominations:
Nicholas Walters D10 Jason Sosa
Jean Pascal UD10 Yunieski Gonzalez
Johnny Muller W10 Mateusz Masternak
Keita Obara D12 Walter Castillo
Robert Guerrero SD10 Aaron Martinez
Lamont Peterson MD12 Felix Diaz
Winner: Nicholas Walters D10 Jason Sosa
That an annual award category like this deserves any attention reflects on how we’ve compromised as fans, and how boxing expects us to compromise. Every year, several times a year, boxing officials make decisions that aren’t easily explainable. Some of these matches are more “robbery” than others, but that any are acceptable is a statement unto itself.
Until such time that consistent and competent officiating in boxing is a given, exceedingly bad decisions need to be regularly called out. The worst transgressions are usually the ones carried out in front of the biggest audiences, or involving the highest stakes. With one exception, The Fight City’s finalists for Robbery of the Year all took place on NBC or HBO, ensuring that viewership was maximized, making the list all the more pitiful.
Three judges turning in identical cards for Jean Pascal over Yunieski Gonzalez in a close fight in which Pascal laid back in many rounds made little sense but wasn’t criminal. Keita Obara was hit plenty in his rousing draw against Walter Castillo, and Felix Diaz eased up in a few key rounds against Lamont Peterson, despite landing the harder punches throughout the fight. None of those decisions sat well with most fans, but they weren’t the most outrageous.
On the other hand, Johnny Muller’s hometown gift over Mateusz Masternak was, by all reports, total highway robbery, though relatively few witnessed it or even know about it. Robert Guerrero‘s head-scratching win over Aaron Martinez was easily one of the worst of the year, as not only was Guerrero knocked down, he was rocked several times and continuously outworked. Judge Jerry Cantu finding eight rounds to gift Guerrero is completely inexcusable.
Our robbery of the year, Walters’ entertaining draw with Sosa, is freshest on our minds having happened a few weeks ago. Sosa was not only a 6-to-1 underdog, but he entered the ring having never beaten an undefeated fighter. Walters was undefeated and had the career momentum. Through ten rounds Sosa performed far better than expected and out-threw Walters by a considerable margin, but what punch stats couldn’t directly translate was the efficiency of Walter’s defense on the inside and the discrepancy in punching power. While Sosa kept moving his hands and gamely stayed in the fight, he absorbed a beating to the body and cannot be credited with more than three rounds.
After the HBO crew denounced the verdict, media reaction was likewise unanimous in its criticism while social media vengeance was swift. It was a case of the judges completely overlooking Walters’ body attack while giving Sosa too much credit for being tough, for doing more than anyone thought he could against a formidable opponent.
Stating that Jason Sosa was highly fortunate to receive a draw in this match should not be taken as disrespectful of the game contender, as Sosa’s co-promoter J. Russell Peltz seemed to suggest during the social media storm following the bout. Sosa’s performance was impressive enough from a standpoint of toughness and grit, and both of those qualities should guide him back to a television date, deservedly, but that’s beside the point. The simple fact is, Walters clearly deserved to win and by a very wide margin. — Patrick Connor