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Home Boxing Poker in the Rear?
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Poker in the Rear?

 

Let me start by saying this: Texas is not an evil state; nor is Houston, Texas an evil city. I know this because Papa Coyote (not some wack hip-hop name for Yours Truly. I’m actually talking about my dad) hails from there as many of his packmates, their pups and Convicted Artist Magazine’s very own Garth Weaver (Guy’s STILL pissed. I can only hold him down so long…Run, Houston!) still do. Of course, our own Benny Henderson Jr. (straight outta Overton) is a proud Texan as well.

And they both thought Paul Malignaggi defeated Juan Diaz on Saturday night. So did I, for that matter.

Of course, Diaz, 35-2 (17), was declared the winner. Diaz was also in a fight that tested different limits because of the unique opponent he had in Malignaggi. Juan Diaz had to fight, came to fight and fought to win. And after the decision was read, officially deeming Diaz the victor, his commentary on the fight bore the joy and confidence of a man who truly believed he won; not a fighter in denial. Why? Because Juan Diaz KNEW he won.

In this writer’s eyes, Diaz didn’t win but he could’ve. Maybe he did. Confused? You needn’t be.

Odds are (and odds are good today) that not every single reader who’s goodly enough to log on and open the link to this article are going to agree with me. At the same time, for objectivity’s sake, let’s stay rooted in rationale.

Was Malignaggi’s loss the result of a dramatic game of “Texas Hold-Up”? Yes and no.

For one, as Malignaggi, 26-3 (5), knew (and quite a few of us suspected) before the fight and most of us confirmed after the fight, something stunk in the Lone Star State and it wasn’t a dead armadillo in the road. It was a state-sanctioned sporting commission.

On the other hand, if the Texas boxing commission were a yellow rose bush, the sharpest thorn would have to be judge Gale Van Hoy.

Malignaggi saw Magoo…I mean, Van Hoy as a problem from the get-go, but curiously enough, focused equally on California judge Raul Caiz Sr. and “referee” Laurence Cole (no stranger to hinkiness himself. And while on the subject of Cole, doesn’t he look like a background character in “Spongebob Squarepants”? You know, one of those fish dudes who sits in a corner booth at the Krusty Krab, nursing a Krabby Patty with a look of absolute misery on his face…No? Hmmm…) as well as Cole’s father, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation boxing director Dickie Cole. Regarding the elder Cole, Paulie states firmly that he pleaded with Mr. Cole to give him a fair shake and was assured he’d get one. Despite Paulie’s contemplative, confident delivery in our Convicted Artist Magazine interview last Friday night, there was a hint in his voice; misted with doubt.

Ironically, Caiz, one of the chief suspects in Malignaggi’s prognosticated pilfering was one of the least (and reasonably) guilt-riddled participants in Saturday night’s controversy. Caiz, a “Gopher for Golden Boy”, as Malignaggi described him among numerous boxing sites and sports outlets, scored the fight 115-113, Diaz. I see this as a result of one or both of the following:

1. Raul Caiz Jr. had an honest-to-goodness objective night in viewing Diaz-Malignaggi.
2. Caiz took an interest in careful judging based on Malignaggi’s reservations (See June 2004’s Bernard Hopkins-Robert Allen III featuring referee Joe Cortez)

Regardless, Caiz got in a decent scorecard that reflected what many a fan saw: a close competitive win for Diaz. No harm done.

At least by Caiz.

And that’s why I’m not so wrapped up in why Caiz scored the fight the way he did as much as I am when it comes to Van Hoy’s card. We knew this was gonna happen so why weren’t there precautionary measures to prevent this from happening? And although judges from Oklahoma (David Sutherland, who I felt maybe stretched it a little in giving Diaz eight rounds to four) and California (Caiz) entered the state of Texas, by no means was it because Texas has a lack of officials. When you have a record suggesting that you’re blatantly biased to Texas fighters and an out-of-towner throwing insistent instants and incidences about how he’s (sort of) expecting to lose, there has to be someone in the room that steps up and says “Hmmm…you know what? Maybe we oughta rethink judge Magoo for this one.”

I’m just saying if they really wanted to, the state commission could’ve made a change but no one on the favored fighter’s side thought anything was wrong. That includes Golden Boy Promotions; a firm that seemingly prides itself in doing what’s good for the fighter “through integrity, honesty, hard work and determination.” Their words, not mine. But if I were to expound on which fighters, I would’ve left off any mention of doing what’s good for a GBP fighter too. Sorry, Oscar. No one got brave at the Golden Corral and called the sheriff. I think the least Golden Boy can do is offer up a rematch with Texas absolutely and positively excluded from venue selection. Please send a message, guys. It’ll lower everyone’s blood pressure a little, now won’t it?

Much was carried on about Laurence Cole, CIA (Cole Insurance Agency) operative. Notice I didn’t say “referee”? That’s because, based on his own imaginary highlight reel, Cole really isn’t much of one. And, although I called him one eight paragraphs ago, (if you wanna get technical…) you’ll notice the quotation marks pulling guard duty on the word “referee.” If 2006’s Juan Manuel Marquez-Jimrex Jaca bout wasn’t enough when Cole suddenly became a Marquez corner man (again, not a referee), then look to Diaz-Malignaggi. When was the last time you saw a ref ask around for help in deciding whether a cut was the result of a headbutt or punch? He’d just as well have been asking if anyone had seen his credentials.

There’s also been much debate on whether or not HBO commentator Max Kellerman knew what he was talking about when he claimed “the marketplace” has spoken. He’s kind of right. After all, as already mentioned, former Undisputed Middleweight Champion Bernard Hopkins kicked and screamed (in the most calculative of ways, of course) prior to the Allen rubbermatch and got his way in intimidating Joe Cortez into being fair-but-firm. Hopkins had his clout and used it, insuring himself an over-officious eye on his behalf. Having a mega-fight against future business partner Oscar De La Hoya didn’t hurt either.

But that’s because we saw two of the most-high-profile stars of this decade getting ready to get it on. With Hopkins, we were seeing a fighter nearing 20 defenses of the real 160-pound championship and all its alpha-bits. With De La Hoya, we were getting a fighter that didn’t need a belt (although he had the WBO strap in tow; a belt he “won” from Felix Sturm the same night Hopkins beat Allen. No complaining there, however).

With Malignaggi, having once held an alphabet title at 140 didn’t help matters. It wasn’t enough to give him the clout he needed to get the allowances he wanted prior to meeting Diaz. Pre-fight, Paulie already was what he feared becoming after the decision was rendered: an opponent. An opponent that had just enough name and was strong enough a test that measures had been placed to nullify any threat to Diaz.

These are the issues at hand which all culminate in one big “Sh*t, here comes the Italian kid with the big mouth. Let’s all ignore him.” gesture. There’s no confusion about it.

So let’s not blame it on Texas as a whole (although Mark Chesnutt would. “Bubba Shot the Jukebox”, “Goin’ Through the Big D”, “It Sure is Monday”…Come on, Chesnutt RULES…). It’s a great state as is Houston, a great metropolis. But just as a team is only as strong as their weakest member, the state may benefit from the tough love of exclusionary tactics. At least it’s a Karmic lesson of what comes around goes around.

While we’re at it, let’s not even really rag on Raul Caiz Jr.’s score. Malignaggi himself admitted that Caiz, an official he acerbically called out, was close. In the aftermath, that takes some serious control on Paulie’s part; what with 12 hard rounds fought and an overabundance of adrenaline still in internal attendance. And you may not have gone off like Malignaggi did. It might not be your style, nor is it mine. But you can’t really blame him.

Just as you can’t blame Juan Diaz. With as much as been said and/or written about Paulie’s loss, we tend to forget about Diaz’ win. A win that showed a determination that evolved somewhere between losing to Juan Manuel Marquez in February and last Saturday night. When it came down to it, the most respect shown, post-Diaz-Malignaggi, was between Juan Diaz and Paul Malignaggi. No trash-talk. No accusation of cheating. No doubt of either man putting in his very best effort, at the time.


Just as well, no clear resolution (yet), although some of you can find your own resolution in how you saw the fight. Some might think that no matter if Van Hoy found Paul Malignaggi the victor, Juan Diaz would’ve still gained a split decision win; especially since Caiz’ card wasn’t suspect (Like I said, Sutherland’s card may have hinged on “gappy” but whatever…). But until Texas Justice is done -or undone- Malignaggi (and many, many fans) might find it easier to refer to Saturday night’s game of “Texas Hold-Up” as “Poker in the Rear” from now on.

Because, in boxing, getting f**ked really knows no geography.

Coyote Duran can’t play Poker (or “Poker in the Rear” for that matter) to save his life; but he’s a demon in Crazy Eights, bitches. If you’d like to deal Coyote a bad hand, please e-mail him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also track Coyote at www.myspace.com/coyote_duran and www.facebook.com/CoyoteDuran or make fun of his fancy-schmancy coloring book at www.convictedartist.com/coyote_duran.html.

But he doesn’t “Tweet.” Sorry.

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