New IBF bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett said he nearly fainted when he heard that his win over Lee Haskins was a split decision.
Northern Ireland’s Ryan Burnett (17-0, 9 KOs) is the new IBF bantamweight (118 lbs) champion, having unseated England’s Lee Haskins (34-4, 14 KOs) in a terrific performance in front of his home fans in Belfast. Burnett scored knockdowns in rounds 6 and 11 and was otherwise clearly dominated Haskins.
…Then the scorecards were read, and promoter Eddie Hearn gave the world an absolutely priceless reaction.
@EddieHearn reaction to a split decision pic.twitter.com/IYMcZ1MTDs
— Raheem (@RaheemRambo) June 10, 2017
Judges Jerry Jakubco (USA) and Dave Parris (UK) scored the fight 119-107 for Burnett, but American Clark Sammartino confused everyone with a 118-108 for Haskins. There is no conceivable way anyone could’ve had Haskins winning the fight by any margin, let alone giving him a scorecard that wide. It also means Sammartino gave his 10-8s to Haskins.
Sammartino has been judging major boxing matches since 1984, so he’s no stranger to the business, and he’s also quite up there in age. According to Hearn (via Sky Sports), it looks as if his scoring mishap was a really unfortunate case of not being able to properly identify Burnett and Haskins (who both had their names visibly printed on their trunks).
“Apparently the judge asked one of the photographers, ‘Which one’s Lee Haskins?’ and the photographer said ‘In the red corner’. I think he asked him a couple of times, and I presume he thought, ‘The red shorts’.
“But frightening, frightening that your future can be put in the hands of someone like that. I don’t mean to be disrespectful because he’s an old gentleman and I’m sure he’s judged many fights, but that could have gone horribly wrong.
“He scored two 10-8 rounds to Haskins! His scorecard was excellent: it was just the wrong way around. He’s 80-odd; I’ve never seen anything like it. I presume the split decision will be revoked. It’ll be a unanimous decision, it must be.”
In the post-fight aftermath, British Boxing Board of Control general secretary Robert Smith also told Sky Sports that Sammartino’s days of judging in the United Kingdom are over.
“I can tell you one thing – [Sammartino] will not be coming back to this country, and I will make sure the IBF are told of that.
“There’s only one winner tonight, and I think Mr Sammartino and Mr Haskins will understand that. It’s just disappointing. It was a good fight and this has kind of ruined it a little bit.”
Something fairly similar happened just last year, when Washington DC-based judge Lloyd Scaife turned in a bizarre scorecard for an HBO main event between Luis Ortiz and Tony Thompson. While the other two judges had it 50-43 for Ortiz (who’d dropped Thompson twice), the 85-year-old Scaife had it 48-47 for Thompson. The scorecard prompted an investigation by the local athletic commission, but Scaife later told BoxingScene in an interview, “I’m thinking I might be feeling a little senility or something coming on.” He has since voluntarily stepped down from his judging role.
We’ve also had a scoring mishap take place in the UFC. In 2012, Mike Pierce won a unanimous decision over Carlos Eduardo Rocha in Florida, but judge Ric Bays had accidentally scored the fight for the wrong corner, and the mistake was retroactively corrected.
The good news for Burnett, who said he’d nearly fainted when “split decision!” was bellowed out by the ring announcer, is that Sammartino’s confusion didn’t cost him the fight, and he is the rightful new IBF champion.
Hearn is looking at having the split decision amended to a unanimous decision in the official records. In the meantime, pour one out for anyone who bet on Burnett to win by unanimous decision, because that definitely hurts.