Strange, Offensive Night On Friday Night Fights As Donovan George Takes Unnecessary Beating From Francisco Sierra And Delvin Rodriguez Gets Robbed Against Ashley Theophane

The headline sums it up. But, to elaborate:

Welterweight Delvin Rodriguez is becoming the unluckiest man in boxing. This time, though, he didn’t only lose a close decision — he lost a decision he should have won easily. Ashley Theophane did give Rodriguez a hard time; Rodriguez started sharp and lost some gas late. But how did two judges give Theophane six rounds and a third score it a draw? I thought maybe you could argue he won the 6th. I gave Theophane the 7th and 8th. But even with Rodriguez a bit unsteady (although unhurt) in the 9th and 10th, he was the aggressor and was landing the more meaningful, more plentiful, straighter shots. And I say this with respect for Theophane, by the way, who really is becoming one of the harder nights of work for borderline contenders and prospects. He can take a shot and he throws punches from crazy angles. So that makes four decisions in his last six fights Rodriguez arguably won but where he didn’t get the W on the scorecard, this one of the most blatant robbery of them all. In those other cases, the result was that he didn’t get a title shot, and it may not be a small matter for his career this time: Word was that Rodriguez was maybe in line for a bout with Saul Alvarez that could be worth some nice cash. Golden Boy Promotions could do a nice favor to boxing by going through with the fight anyway, if the talks were already serious. It would let people know that no one should be punished for losing a decision they deserved to win.

The supporting bout on ESPN2 Friday was no less strange, especially at the end. There was no doubt through six rounds who was winning this fight — it was late replacement Francisco Sierra, who pounded a couple pints of blood out of the nose of super middleweight prospect Donovan George, bruised up his eyes, hurt him in nearly every round and at one point knocked him down. By the midway point, after the 5th, the fight should have been stopped. Even Sierra’s jabs were hurting George, a sign a fighter’s ready to go. Yet his corner allowed the beating to be prolonged for two more full rounds, a disgusting decision, never even appearing to think about stopping it, even with the referee visiting to check in after the 6th. In the 7th, about a full second after the bell rang, Sierra landed a perfect 1-2, with the two sending Sierra down like an old woman whose walker failed her. After a ton of kvetching — should it be a DQ? should Donovan get five minutes to recover? — the referee settled on going to the scorecards and deducting Sierra two points. Under the Association of Boxing Commissions rules, what mattered was whether it was intentional — if it was intentional, it could have been a DQ if George couldn’t continue (and he absolutely couldn’t) or a deduction if he could; if it was unintentional, he shouldn’t have been docked points but going to the scorecards was the right thing to do if George couldn’t continue. Sierra won the easy decision, of course. But while it was a close call, I think Sierra should have been disqualified. He began his combination after the bell rang. That’s intentional enough for me. That said, it also would have been bad for the clearly superior fighter to lose that way, so I can live with it. What I can’t live with is George taking such a nasty, brutal, one-sided beating for so long. That’s when boxing becomes too much for me to stomach — when the sport doesn’t protect its athletes from grave harm.

About Tim Starks

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