The two judges who rendered questionable scorecards in last week's Hassan N'Dam vs. Ryota Murata fight for a vacant secondary middleweight world title were suspended for six months by the WBA on Thursday, and a rematch was ordered.
France's N'Dam (36-2, 21 KOs) was awarded a controversial split decision victory and the 160-pound belt against Murata (12-1, 9 KOs), a 2012 Japanese Olympic gold medalist, on Saturday in Tokyo. While American judge Raul Caiz Sr. was applauded for his score of 117-111 for Murata, Panama's Gustavo Padilla scored the fight 116-111 for N'Dam and Canada's Hubert Earle had it 115-112 for N'Dam, which caused outrage throughout the boxing world.
After the fight, WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza apologized to Murata, his team and all Japanese fans and said he would push for an immediate rematch to be ordered.
During a news conference Thursday, Mendoza announced that Padilla and Earl had been suspended for six months, a rare move, and that the rematch had been ordered.
"Besides the six-month suspension, both Padilla and Earle will have to pass some tests before being allowed to again judge fights sanctioned by the WBA and its regional bodies," Mendoza said.
Mendoza said he, five judges and the supervisor of the bout reviewed the fight and all scored it for Murata. Mendoza thought Murata won 117-110.
Murata, 31, appeared to dominate against the 33-year-old N'Dam, including scoring a knockdown with a right hand late in the fourth round. N'Dam also hit the mat multiple other times, but referee Luis Pabon ruled them slips.
There was another controversial WBA fight on Saturday night at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, where former two-division titlist Rances Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs), a Cuban defector, moved up to junior welterweight and was awarded a unanimous decision win against Belarus' Kiryl Relikh (21-2, 19 KOs) in a title eliminator for the right to challenge unified titlist Julius Indongo.
That result was also viewed by many as controversial, and Mendoza said at his news conference that the WBA will ask the Maryland State Athletic Commission not to appoint judges John Gradowski (116-110), Henry Grant (115-111) and Don Risher (117-109) to WBA-sanctioned fights in the state.
"Unfortunately, in the U.S., there is a law that prohibits [sanctioning bodies] from choosing and appointing the officials or taking any actions like we did in the case of the N'Dam-Murata fight," Mendoza said. "However, we will inform the Maryland commission of our view in the matter."
A rematch of that bout was also ordered, Mendoza said.
"The reason for both rematches is that their results were controversial," Mendoza said. "I have already apologized publicly for the N'Dam-Murata result. In my social networks, I presented my personal point of view and my score. And I did it because I believe the case deserved it. As for the contest between Barthelemy and Relikh, I think it was a close fight but the result was controversial."