On Versus, Another Bad Decision As Tim Coleman Somehow Beats Mike Arnaoutis

It must be “Bad Decision Week” in boxing. (Suggested rejoinder for the cynical commenter: “When ISN’T it ‘Bad Decision Week’ in boxing?”)

Two judges awarded a decision to Tim Coleman over Mike Arnaoutis in a junior welterweight fight I scored 116-112 for Arnaoutis on Versus Thursday night, less than a week over one of the more outrageous decisions of 2009, when lightweight Joan Guzman somehow came away with a draw against Ali Funeka in a fight I scored 118-110 for Funeka. And you know, I might have been being generous to Coleman. The Versus commentating team seemed to have given Coleman a mere two rounds. Two judges gave him SEVEN, and the other scored it a more sound 116-112 for Arnaoutis.

The thing is, Coleman did have some early success — I gave him rounds one, two, three and five. He was faster, harder to hit and was connecting on that straight right of his pretty frequently. But then Arnaoutis was like, “What if I start using my jab, and what if I realized he was only going to throw a right hand?” and Coleman was like, “Whoa, I’ve never seen a jab before, I don’t know how to get out of the way of this and don’t know how to use my other hand,” and then I was like, “OK, this is Arnaoutis’ fight running away.” It was not that aesthetically pleasing a fight, despite what the Versus team and Fightwriter suspected it would be, with lots of fouling, some posing, some dirtiness and plenty of awkward southpaw/right-hander action.

But Coleman should not have won. Going into the 12th, he asked whether he needed a knockout to win. And you know, the occasional really bad decision — it outrages me, as Funeka-Guzman did, but I understand that it can happen because it’s that kind of sport, where judging is subjective. Two in one week? Man, it’s dispiriting. I was talking with friend-of-the-site Jim the other day about what constitutes a bad decision, and maybe you can come up with a few rounds in a bad decision like Funeka-Guzman or Coleman-Arnaoutis that go one way or the other. What I don’t get is a fight where Arnaoutis essentially controlled this fight from the 4th round on, and some judges find a way to give so many rounds, even borderline rounds (and I didn’t see many), to the other guy. It’s not even like this was a hometown decision, since Coleman’s from Baltimore, Arnaoutis is from Astoria, N.Y. and the fight was in Manhattan. I don’t get it. I hope Arnaoutis gets another shot at a decent payday before Coleman, because he earned one with this effort.

Thoughts on the rest of the card after the jump.

In the first fight of the night, heavyweight Shannon Briggs scored a 1st round knockout on a big body shot over Marcus McGee, whose job description is effectively “guy who gets knocked out early by the bigger name heavyweights,” since Sam Peter and Odlanier Solis had done much the same to him in the last couple years. Briggs calls himself an overachiever because he was born premature and has asthma, and those are indeed hurdles to overcome. But Briggs’ work ethic has been blasted by plenty of people over the years. I’d love to see him in the announcing booth, but he’s got enough power and he’s well-enough preserved that if he could really devote himself, even at age 38, he could make a success out of his upteenth comeback. Just don’t get your hopes up.

In the second fight, junior welterweight Brad Solomon showed that his undefeated record against no-name opposition down south wasn’t illusory by dominating “The New” Ray Robinson. Even this one had a weird scorecard: one of the judges scored it a draw. I only gave Robinson the 5th out of eight rounds, and the other two judges had it 79-73 for Solomon. Sigh. Anyhow, this was a good fight. Yes, it was one-sided, but both guys fought hard, Robinson had his moments and this was the prototypical fight between two undefeated prospects where neither guy wants to accept losing and they behave that way. The difference was that Robinson was slower and Solomon faster; he kept reaching with his punches, something he probably wasn’t used to having to do as the taller man, but Solomon was quick-footed and was able to connect on counters; and when Robinson connected, he couldn’t hurt Solomon. Robinson made a nice adjustment in the 5th, taking the fight inside, but Solomon adjusted right back. I’m not super-high on either of these guys, but I liked what I saw from them, and I bet both of them learn from it and are better because of it.

Stray observations: Loved the exchange in Robinson’s corner, when his trainer asked, “Ray. Ray. What the hell did your mother name you?” and Ray answered, “Ray Robinson.” “All right then,” his trainer said. I wonder how much being named after the best boxer ever lived puts pressure on someone to be a good boxer… I really like Wallace Matthews as an analyst. He sees stuff I don’t or says stuff out loud that I’m thinking pretty frequently. He also doesn’t hold back. I swear I thought I heard him mumble “bullshit” after the judges read the Coleman-Arnaoutis scorecard… As friend-of-the-site WF noted, “Sparkle” just doesn’t sound like the name of a boxing referee. But Sparkle Lee handled the fight well, I thought. I think I’ve seen her before and she’s never left the impression that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. I’m not trying to be sexist here by suggesting she wouldn’t — but when a woman is a boxing referee, which is VERY rare, you do wonder, “Hey, that’s neat, I wonder how she’ll do”… I’d always heard Arnaoutis’ name pronounced “Are-nah-ooo-tis,” but the commentating team kept saying “Are-now-tis.” Somebody solve this problem immediately, please… I know friend-of-the-site DPG said Star Boxing bought this date from the Tournament of the Contenders, a promoter that had some Versus dates, but why in the world were there graphics for “The Contender” all over the place? None of these fighters had anything to do with that particular boxing reality show. There’s a kind of sloppiness to Versus as a network that is a real turnoff, leaving me in a kind of “I don’t even give a damn if they host boxing cards anymore, almost anyone else would do it better” state of mind. Just — if someone steps into the void, keep Matthews around.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.