Gennady Golovkin is returning to Madison Square Garden to fight Daniel Jacobs on March 18th. This article looks back at GGG’s MSG debut, which saw the NYSAC timekeepers fail to do their job.
The UFC has held three events in New York since MMA was legalized in the state late last year: UFC 205 in November, UFC Albany in December, and UFC 208 in February. UFC 208 was a rather forgettable event, with the NYSAC under fire for its decision to appoint Todd Anderson as the referee of the main event between Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie. Anderson not deducting a point from de Randamie for throwing and landing late strikes in rounds 2 and 3 led to heavy criticism from fans, journalists, and of course Dana White. The NYSAC effectively put the onus on the UFC for not objecting to its decision to assign Anderson to the fight, and then unsurprisingly (and not really wrongly) rejected Holm’s appeal.
This latest kerfuffle follows a scoring error which led to Tyron Woodley-Stephen Thompson I initially being announced as a Woodley win, and criticism from fighters and coaches after there were no on-site sutures (an otherwise common practice) for UFC Albany. In just over three weeks, UFC 210 will take place in Buffalo’s KeyBank Arena.
Nine months ago, not too long after New York legalized MMA in the state, I wrote a long feature column on the (often dangerous) ineptitude and corruption that has long plauged the athletic commission, highlighting some abhorrent things that MMA fans who don’t follow boxing may be unaware of. I’d planned to write a follow-up piece, but wound up putting it on the backburner. With this week marking Gennady Golovkin’s return to New York, I figured this would be the perfect time to bring this series back. Consider this the newest installment of Tales from the NYSAC.
July 26th, 2014
Gennady Golovkin’s first ever main event spot at Madison Square Garden — he’d twice fought at the MSG Theater but not at the main arena itself — was a defense of his WBA (super) middleweight title against Australia’s Daniel Geale. As expected, Golovkin ripped Geale apart and won by TKO in round 3. In the final exchange, Geale landed a good right hand on GGG, but Golovkin is evidently impervious to pain, so he walked through it and dropped Geale for the third and final time.
There was just one problem with the way this fight was handled. Round 1 literally went a full minute longer than it was supposed to. The bell didn’t sound on time, and neither did the clapper to signal the five-second warning.
“Our unofficial timekeeper is saying that this round has already lasted significantly longer than three minutes,” HBO commentator Jim Lampley said during the broadcast. “One thing you don’t need against Gennady Golovkin is for the round to be a minute too long. Finally it comes to an end. That round was exactly four minutes long.”
To make matters worse, an accidental clash of heads during that extra minute led to a cut above Geale’s right eye. On an unrelated matter, Geale also tripped over a photographer’s camera strap prior to the erroneous fourth minute, so it really just wasn’t his night. For the record, Geale and his team never lodged any appeal.
Following an investigation and six months after the fact, the NYSAC announced the six-month suspensions of commission-appointed timekeepers Catherine Paolillo and Clarence McMillan (who was Paolillo’s backup).
“Timekeeping is an exacting function. It takes complete focus and care. We owe it to boxers and the entire boxing community to show that care and get it right,” NYSAC executive director David Berlin told ESPN.com. “Although we cannot undo the error of July 26, we immediately investigated the matter and proceeded to hold accountable the timekeepers who allowed the first round of the Golovkin-Geale bout to run for four minutes. We strive to maintain the integrity and fairness of the sport and to ensure that such an error does not occur again.”
The statement from the official ruling tells you the reason behind the brutal display of incompetence of Paolillo.
“It is very clear from the evidence that [Paolillo] permitted the round to run an extra minute because she allowed herself to be distracted,” the commission wrote. “Most significant is the evidence showing that rather than watching the clock as she should she engaged in an animated conversation with other persons which distracted her from her duties.
“Clearly, the respondent’s conduct rises to the level of negligence. To the extent that the she allowed herself to be distracted from her duties by a conversation with other persons her conduct may be characterized as willful.”
This wasn’t Paolillo’s first notable timekeeping error. In 2001, the NYSAC overturned Hector Camacho Jr’s technical decision win over Jesse James Leija to a no-contest, after Paolillo had incorrectly rang the bell to start round six of a scheduled ten-rounder. Referee Steve Smoger had called for time during the rest period between rounds five and six so that the commission doctor could further examine a cut above Camacho’s eyelid, which was caused by an accidental headbutt. Paolillo had “mistakenly believed, contrary to the rules, that she could not grant time until the bell starting the next round had rung.”
NYSAC rules state that fights can only go to the scorecards following a fight-ending accidental headbutt when “the bell has rung for the commencement of the round following the conclusion of at least one half of the scheduled rounds of such contest.” Camacho couldn’t continue, the fight was stopped in the sixth round (which should’ve never commenced in the first place), and they went to the scorecards (when it should’ve been a no-contest).
Let’s hope that everything runs smoothly this Saturday night, when GGG fights Daniel Jacobs in the HBO PPV main event.
The next edition of Tales from the NYSAC will be published the week of UFC 210, as we look back at the controversy surrounding Danny Garcia vs. Erik Morales 2, which saw Morales fail two USADA drug tests, but he was still able to make it to fight night.