by Charles Jay
The World Boxing Association has reviewed all the facts and circumstances of the case, and has ruled that Lamont Peterson must grant Amir Khan a rematch within 180 days or be stripped of their version of the light welterweight (140-pound) championship.
According to the press release that was issued by Golden Boy Promotions, which has the promotional contract with Khan, one of the factors in the WBA’s decision involved “the ringside appearance of an unauthorized individual in Mustafa Ameen (the infamous “Man in a Hat”) who apparently handled official scoring slips, seemingly communicated with fight officials throughout the fight and appeared to be photographed posing with a celebrating Team Peterson in the ring following the fight.”
That much appears to have a ring of truth to it, according to photographs that were taken during the fight.
One could have probably predicted that the WBA was going to go this way after that circumstantial evidence surfaced.
After all, there has to be a very interesting and creative explanation; not necessarily on the part of Ameen (who will speak his peace at the IBF hearing on January 18), but from Michael Walsh, the WBA supervisor in attendance who was apparently discussing the scoring of the fight with Ameen during the activity itself, and the WBA isn’t likely for all of that to be made very public. The reason for that is simply that there is, in fact, no viable explanation for it.
So the WBA headed things off at the pass. Of course, the WBA took into account the behavior of referee Joe Cooper as well, although it could be argued that incompetence on his part was probably enough to give a certain advantage to either side. The end result is that the Khan camp, which includes Golden Boy, gets one of the things they were looking for, which is a rematch.
Or rather, they have a ruling for a rematch. There is still the matter of what might happen with the IBF and the hearing that will take place on January 18. The IBF has distanced itself to an extent from the actions of the aforementioned Ameen, even though the organization arranged for a credential to admit Ameen into the ringside area. However, it was not their official at ringside who is suspected of being co-opted. The WBA decision does not necessarily compel the IBF to do anything, and if Ameen’s explanation as to what happened is acceptable to them, they may conclude that there was nothing suspect on their part.
If the IBF does not order that a rematch take place, it will be very interesting to see what Barry Hunter will do. Hunter, of course, is the trainer-manager of Peterson, and a couple of days ago released a statement in response to the Khan camp’s protests.
After explaining (a) that he felt the WBA had made its decision before any official proceeding had taken place, and (b) that Golden Boy filed their protests with the WBA and IBF only after Peterson did not immediately accept their offer for a rematch, Hunter said the following (through the statement that was released):
“If the media reports are true, then the actions of a few will put every close decision in boxing in jeopardy of being overturned. We will not let that happen. We will continue to fight for what is just and proper.”
That sounds like a rather principled stand. Does it mean that if the IBF does not order him to engage in a rematch with Khan, he will leave the Brit and Golden Boy standing at the altar? That may just be the case. Someone who talks like that isn’t likely to go back to Golden Boy, hat in hand (pardon the pun) with no leverage in negotiating.
One could say that public opinion, at least in the United States, has not favored Khan in this matter. So Peterson’s refusal to fight Khan again, at least immediately, would not meet with much public outcry. More wins with a belt around his weight would give him more leverage if the rematch were indeed to take place down the road. Winning a vacant WBA title would be a rather hollow thing for Khan, because the perception on the part of many would be that he’d have only a “paper” title.
There is also the shadow of Bob Arum lurking over the proceedings. He’d like to sign Peterson, who is not committed to any promoter, and he could dangle something lucrative in front of him; maybe not Manny Pacquiao but perhaps Tim Bradley or even Miguel Cotto.
And then there is the matter of the IBF. Sanctioning bodies don’t customarily like to deal with unified titles if they can avoid it, because it reduces their control, and ultimately, the financial opportunity may not be as substantial. It could be in their interests to split this title, at which point some of the tactics used by Khan and Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer may have backfired just a bit.