Yes, it does happen, usually when the visiting promoter has more clout to bribe local judges than the home-fighter’s promoter. It’s a sad phenomenon to get screwed in any decision, but even worse when the local fans were preparing for a party, and the hometown fighter is essentially getting robbed in his own home.
Here are a few examples:
Frankie Duarte vs. Bernardo Pinango
In this 1987 WBA 118lb championship match, Duarte did start slow. The West-sider allowed Pinango to build an early lead, but not only did Duarte close the gap, and even things out in rounds, but he dropped Pinango twice, in the 10th and 15th rounds. The Venezuelan champion was even deducted two points for low blows. This seemed to make it a foregone conclusion that Pinango would be dethroned in front of L.A. native Duarte’s faithful. However, all three judges gave Pinango the decision, and there was not even the appearance of neutrality… all judges being from Central and South America. Pinango moved up right away to 122lbs, and avoided a rematch. Duarte challenged for a world title once more, but was soundly beaten and retired.
Tyrone Everett vs. Alfredo Escalera
This one wasn’t even close. Everett outboxed and outclasses Escalera at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, only to receive a ridiculous gift at the hands of the WBC judges. So bad was the obviously corrupt decision that a rematch was negotiated for several months later. It would never happen, however, as Everett was tragically murdered.. but he deserved to die a champion, which made the home-town robbery even more tragic.
Michael Brodie vs. Willie Jorrin
Once again, the WBC rears their ugly heads… playing their favorite game… protect the Mexican. Jorrin, a Sacramento native, had good luck with judges in other fights before and after this, but usually with the help of his vast hometown base. This time, it seemed Brodie had won a close competitive fight in his own hometown of Manchester. However, WBC judges did not see it that way, and awarded the vacant belt to Jorrin. Brodie settled for challenging for the lightly regarded WBF belt, and a rematch never materialized.
Axel Schulz vs. Franz Botha
This was Schulz’s second time being robbed in a close one for the IBF heavyweight strap. First, he came up just short in Las Vegas against George Foreman. However, the removal of George’s legend, and the visitor’s curse, did nothing to help Schulz. Even in his own backyard, the judges scored for South African Botha (then, a Don King fighter). Schulz seemingly swept the first 7 rounds, only to take his foot off the gas. It wasn’t enough, and after Botha was stripped for steroid use, both men lost to Michael Moorer within a year.