Doug Fischer

10: Worst refereed boxing matches in last 10 years

NO. 3

ROBERT GONZALEZ

Rocky Juarez vs. Zahir Raheem, Houston, Texas, 2004

Gonzalez was bad in the Johnson-Marquez bout but he outdid himself in this 12-round featherweight title elimination bout, which was televised on HBO.

Raheem never had a chance in what should have been a compelling boxer vs. pressure fighter matchup between U.S. Olympians due to the blatant bias of Gonzalez, who deducted points from the Philadelphia native for holding behind the head in rounds four, six and 10.

The holding was not excessive and Juarez, who won by scores of 115-109, 114-110, 113-111, also had a part in the inside grappling, but the Texas official never warned the Houston native.

Speaking Juarez, the 2000 Olympic silver medalist was unhappy with Gonzalez’s officiating even though he benefited from it. Juarez felt he couldn’t get any momentum going while working on the inside because Gonzalez was too quick to break them up in order to admonish Raheem.

Gonzalez was so over-the-top bad that retired referee Mills Lane, who had kept a low profile since suffering a debilitating stroke in 2002, broke his silence to address the misconduct in the form of a letter to Richard Cole, the head of the Texas boxing commission:

Dear Mr. Cole:
I have reviewed the tape of the fight between Juarez and Raheem. From the first round through the end of the fight, Robert Gonzales interfered with Raheem's legitimate fight tactics and strategy. Mr. Gonzalez's conduct as a referee was despicable. He was blatant in his ongoing attempt to interfere with the flow of the fight. From my view, points should not have been deducted from Raheem. Juarez, on many occasions, held on to Raheem's glove, and as a result, his head would come into direct contact with the face of Raheem. Raheem's response to control the head of Juarez was a natural and legitimate technique. Ali often used this technique. Juarez punched on the break several times and was never warned.

In short this was the worst performance by any referee that I have witnessed. Raheem should not be penalized for suffering a loss because of a referee's conduct. In closing, I would urge the commissioners office to rule this fight a "no contest."

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