By Ken Hisner: On November 30, 1976, this writer was faced with the worst decision I’ve ever made. WBC World Super Featherweight Champion Alfredo “Petro” Escalera of Puerto Rico arrives at the Spectrum building in Philadelphia before an indoor record-breaking crowd of 16,019 towards Peltz Boxing promoter Jay Russell Peltz.
Escalera, 36-7-2, was defending his title for the seventh time against Philadelphia southpaw Tyrone “The Mean Machine” Everett, 34-0. The judges were pitched in favor of the champion with voting referees Ray Solis of Mexico, Ismail Viso Fernández of Puerto Rico, Lou Tress of Pennsylvania.
I wasn’t writing at the time, but remember that in the end Everett went up 13-2 in rounds, losing those two rounds due to an accidental head-on collision with Everett with a cut on his forehead between his eyes. Blood was pouring out.
Boxing judge Harold Lederman called the decision the most controversial and added “probably the worst decision in history” to the 2010 book “The Ultimate Book of Boxing” by authors Burt Sugar and Teddy Atlas.
Finally, scores were announced with Everett dazzling Escalera, with Solis 148–146 for Escalera, 146–143 for Everett by Fernández, and Trace with 145–143 for Escalera. After this Trace will never judge any other fight.
He probably got paid enough to retire. A year and a half after the fight, Escalera was shot dead at the age of 24 after recording a pair of victories. At that time, a rematch was to take place in July of 1977.
Both got cuts in the third round. In the fourth, Everett opened the cut Escalera had received in the previous round. Everett landed a counter to the left, opening the second cut, a cut above Escalera’s eye. By the end of the round, both of them were bleeding. Everett had famous Philly cutman Eddie Eliano in his corner. Between rounds referee Solis only inspected Everett’s corner.
Everett continued to use the full ring and stuck his jab in Escalera’s face and walked away, leading Escalera to counter punches. In this way it fought the whole battle. Escalera was warned a second time in the eighth round by referee Solis for using his head. Escalera was missing more than adding. By the end of the twelfth round, Everett rocked Escalera.
In the thirteenth round, the cut was caused by a head-on collision when Escalera came out from crouch bringing his head up into Everett’s forehead. Everett was still scoring well in the round. In the middle of the round the referee called the ring physician. After the fourteenth round of reviews of this contest on the film, a commentator announced that Everett was leading by a wide margin by two local reporters.
In the fifteenth and final round, Everett opened another cut on Escalera’s left eye. A desperate Escalera was missing with wide punches, while his head was knocked back by an Everett jab at the start of the round. As the bell rang and fans awaited a decision, Everett’s brother Mike entered the ring, though the next bout was scheduled. Announcer Darian first read out two votes for Escalera. The fans raged for several minutes.
Another time I remember was when I had lunch with great manager Jim Jacobs in New York, and he said of all the fight movies in his collection, he told Harold Johnson of Philadelphia by split decision in Las Vegas in June 1963. He lost his title to Willy Pastrano. , Nevada.
The ones that stood out to me were the first Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr., and WBC Lightweight Champion Jose “El Terrible” Luis Castillo of Mexico, which happened in April 2002. It was close enough, eight months later with the decision being re-matched again. In favor of Mayweather. The scoring was closer than in their first match.
Another controversial decision was “giving” Andre “SOG” a victory over WBA, WBO, and IBO Light Heavyweight Champion Sergei “Crusher” Kovalev, with all three judges scoring 114–113 for Ward.
Seven months later, a rematch resulted in a 2–1 fight in Ward’s favor when he went into Kovalev’s body, stopping him in the eighth round. Ward will retire after this match.
It looks like there is another champion in Lennox “The Lion” Lewis, with future champion Vitaly “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko, who could not exit the seventh round due to a cut.
He was leading 58-56 on all three cards at the time. Lewis was not interested in the rematch.
I am sure your fans have their own favorites that you remember, so please mention them in the comments section.