Dawn News

Poor officiating for a good fight

A strong Pakistani-American crowd stood solidly behind Amir Iqbal Khan even after he lost his title to a Washington native, Lamont Peterson, on Saturday night, belying the myth that Pakistanis do not support losers.

After 12 back-and-forth rounds, judges George Hill and Valerie Dorsett scored it 113-112 to Peterson, while Nelson Vasquez tipped Khan at 115-110 to Khan. Both fighters are ready for a re-match after a grueling fight described as the best boxing match of the year by the US media.

“Peterson, helped by referee Joe Cooper deducting two points from Khan for pushing in the seventh and 12th rounds, scored the split-decision to win the WBA and IBF junior welterweight titles,” reported the American AP news agency.

Many among hundreds of Pakistani-Americans who came to watch the fight kissed the Pakistani flag Khan brought to the arena along with the Union Jack, the flag of his native Britain. And many left Washington’s Convention Centre with wet eyes and heavy hearts.

And as it happens in such tightly contested competitions, many disagreed with the decision to award the fight to Peterson. Comments in the US media further aggravated their feelings.

“Poor refereeing cost Amir Khan his WBA and IBF light-welterweight titles,” observed Super Sport, a popular American sports site.

“If the first point isn’t taken, Khan retains the title on a draw. If both are ignored, the 25-year-old Brit wins a unanimous decision,” observed another popular US site, Sports Illustrated.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper also called it a “controversial split decision.”

“It was like I was against him and the referee,” said Khan after the defeat. “I knew it would be tough in his hometown.” But it was Khan’s idea to fight in Washington after he attended a White House dinner for Muslim athletes on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on a personal invitation from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Now he regrets his decision. “This is why boxing hasn’t been in Washington DC for 20 years: you get a decision like this,” he said.

A statement from Khan’s camp said: “Team Khan intends to make inquiries with the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission, the IBF and the WBA regarding the performance of referee Joseph Cooper. “We will also be seeking clarification regarding certain ambiguities with respect to the scores of the fight.”

Khan, however, showed no stinginess in praising Peterson. “Not only has he shown that he is a tremendous fighter inside the ring, but also a great man out of the ring. We look forward to an immediate rematch with Lamont as confirmed by Lamont and his manager,” the statement said.

Peterson’s victory also is one of the best sports stories of the year. He lived parentless with his brother on the streets of Washington, not far from the arena, from age 9 to 14.

Odds makers had installed him as 7-to-1 underdog against Khan. But on Saturday night he became a world champion before a sellout crowd of 8.647 at Washington’s Convention Centre. Khan outworked Peterson on volume of punches overall, 757 to 573, as well as power punches, 466 to 406.

Khan was magnificent in the opening round and for much of the fight scored well by moving and hitting. But he was caught on the ropes too many times where Peterson outfought him on the inside. Referee Cooper took a point away from Khan for “pushing” in the seventh round and did it again in the 12th, effectively denying Khan a draw that would have enabled him to retain his titles.

Khan, who made liberal use of his elbows, was often forced to push Peterson away from him as the American ducked low and held on to avoid being tagged from a distance by Khan’s flashing hands. There was a lot of borderline hitting that could have been called low blows but the referee, who clearly looked out of his depth, failed to notice.

Peterson, looking a little like a smaller version of Mike Tyson, landed most of the big shots and tested Khan’s suspect chin to the full. Khan took it well and there was never a moment when either boxer came close to a knockout.

Khan, who turned 25 last Thursday, lost for the first time since being knocked out by Breidis Prescott in 2008.

After the defeat, Khan’s record dropped to 26-2, with 17 knockouts. Peterson, who was born in Washington, now stands at 30-1-1; 15.

The author is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC.

Anwar Iqbal is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC.

Comments (23) Closed

Dec 12, 2011 04:00pm
You have written this blog only because Amir Khan is a Muslim? And, you think it is poor and biased officiating? This is just a sport, accept the loss gracefully and no need to lament about biases is the result of a loss. For Peterson, its a win and, a win is a win.
Rocky Marciano
Dec 12, 2011 04:26pm
Peterson was not leading with his head, not a single clash and no risk of one. Ducking and coming in low is completely legal providing your head is above the belt line. Leading with your head? Check out Bradley, and Ward, Lamont wasn't even close to that. This was similar to Lopez holding down Marquez, Lopez didn't want Marquez on the inside so as soon as Marquez slipped or ducked he'd lean on him and look at the ref. Khan does the exact same thing, while rough and full of grit, Peterson was 100% legit. All that holding and pushing Khan was doing? It IS against the rules to push although it is not something that commonly takes a point away. Thinking of it generally and also along with other 'illegal' things that cause points to be taken away, you have to think of WHY things are illegal. Obviously, elbowing and head-butting are illegal because that can injure the opponent (without using your gloves) leading to an advantage. But when you think of pushing, I can't see how that helps the fighter who is pushing besides giving them breathing room. Something that Khan didn't need.. So I really think that if you're going to blame someone, it has to be Khan for pushing when he didn't need to. He created space with his feet and is significantly faster. He lost the fight on his own accord after he was warned. It wasn't really unfair. It was a great fight.
Dec 12, 2011 04:39pm
You call it poor officiating because a Pakistani lost....
Haroon Ahmed Khan
Dec 12, 2011 04:42pm
Hi Javed Khan, I disagree. The heightened interest by Pakistanis may be because of Amir's background. However, if you follow boxing and read all the major credible boxing sites, there is a consensus amongst all commentators/experts that the refereeing was at worst biased, at best sub-par. If you had read the article above you may have noticed that the author has quoted "Super Sports", "Sports Illustrated" and the "Guardian" (of UK). NONE of the articles quoted were written by any Muslim/Pakistani. Bad refereeing is bad refereeing is bad refereeing. It happens in every sports and boxing is no different. I am not sure if you even watched the match. I did. The bout was very close. In fact, too close to call, so all credit to Peterson. However, the refereeing was quite poor.
Dec 12, 2011 04:54pm
@ Javed Khan I think its more a matter of being relevant rather than being Muslim. And whether a complaining in defeat is genuine or mere lamenting is subject to ones opinion. Better highlight writer's omissions objectively.
A Hasan
Dec 12, 2011 05:22pm
I have to totally agree Haroon!
Dec 12, 2011 07:38pm
@Javed Khan, y is it wrong to support a muslim.
Dec 12, 2011 07:40pm
Yeah of all the things which are happening in the world and in Pakistan this is the one that we have to talk about and worry about. Great.
Dec 12, 2011 07:41pm
He is not a "loser" . Beautiful boxer, beautiful fight. Bad decision. Amrir came right back after each time he got hit. And his opponent had amazing hooks/bodypunches. I hope a rematch.
Dec 12, 2011 08:24pm
Can anyone here reference any big time boxing event where a referee takes off two points like that especially when the other boxer is going head in trying to head butt the other. The referee is suppose to push them open not take points off -- This was totally absurd and Amir will be back
Daniyal Farrakh
Dec 12, 2011 09:17pm
Javed Khan, why did you read this article if you have to be so sarcastic, i was at the fight. Were you?
Enver Khorasanee
Dec 12, 2011 09:23pm
Amir Khan had the better ring generalship. He took the fight to any corner of the ring he wanted to. He was leading going forward. This fight should have been declared a draw. Enver Khorasanee
Dec 12, 2011 10:03pm
Naveed...This is not about supporting Muslim or not, this is about bad decisions, couldve happened to anyone, not sure if you remember the fight Aamir had with the jew guy, forgot his name, Aamir did hit a really low blow to him but was not charged. Same is the case here.
saquailiani mushtafa
Dec 12, 2011 11:16pm
Peterson deseves a lot of credit. It was. A great night but why wont amirs camp.accept losing. Lets face it lamont won clearly he also won fair and square. And if amir cant accept that he wont leatn and will take a even bigger loss in the remach
Dec 12, 2011 11:17pm
Forget the 'you' in 'You call it poor officiating ...'; how about the comments from Super Sport, Sports Illustrated and Guardian? Are they too biased towards Pakistan?
miguel cotto
Dec 12, 2011 11:23pm
Oh wot a fight! So awesome& Lamont proved his skills what a fighter. Im serious LAMONT clearly won i was their. Please khan accept defeat or u wont ever learn from it. This is a other learning curve for khan But he is making excuse after excuse BRO ACCEPT DEFEAT BRUV
Muhammad Ilyas
Dec 12, 2011 11:33pm
It was, no doubt, a fight, and there is always a winner and a loser; but the score card, performance of Amir Khan and independent analysis of the match speak of his win (or at least a draw). It is not, and may not be taken as, a Muslim-viz-Non-Muslim sort of controversy, but a question of impartial and just judgement, which has raised eyebrows of many around the globe-obviously in Pakistan too, asking, why......?.
Dec 13, 2011 01:27am
Javed- And why do you think ESPN wrote a similar article?... Do you your homework buddy...watch the fight....don't just pass judgetment
Dec 13, 2011 08:03am
i think Amir should get rematch with Preston, the guy who knocked him out in first round- not with Peterson.
Dec 13, 2011 09:30am
Body language of peterson after the fight was over was indicative of his admission of defeat and that of Amir Kahn was of a winner.That was why after announcement of the decision peterson and his fans were surprisingly over joyed.
Dec 13, 2011 07:52pm
Alex - you mean to say this writer is aping cricinfo? Btw, whatever is written on cricinfo is not a word from Holy Gospel so please don't quote their views. Besides, what I wrote is what I see and what I feel and these are my views just like you have your views. Isn't there something called freedom of expression? Hopefully Khan will win the rematch.
Dec 18, 2011 10:53pm
It was a nice fight!
Dec 19, 2011 06:35am
You are right Javed...!