Ryan Burnett (17-0) turned in a fantastic performance Saturday night, in dethroning Lee Haskins and claiming the IBF Bantamweight title.
The Belfast native overcame a nasty gash to the forehead, sustained in a clash of heads in the second round and was dominant throughout the fight. Burnett secured knockdowns in rounds six and eleven to leave little doubt in the result. Or so you would have thought.
When the scorecards were announced, the Belfast crowd almost revolted. The notion that the fight could possibly have been viewed as a split decision was farcical. Dave Parris’ card, which read 119-107 was the consensus score. Judge Clark Sammartino’s ruling of 118-108, in favour of Haskins was certainly not. Luckily, it was not to prove consequential, as Jerry Jakubco also ruled 119-107, in favour of the new champion, Burnett.
Just how Sammartino saw the fight as a domination from Haskins was beyond belief. The reason behind the score was revealed at the post fight press conference, by Eddie Hearn. Hearn confirmed that Sammartino was unsure of the identity of both fighters and had asked a photographer at ringside for help, in identifying the fighters. Confusion arose from the fact that Haskins was fighting off the red corner, while Burnett wore red shorts. Hearn believes the judge misheard the photographer, leading to him filling out the wrong column.
“It’s frightening, he asked our photographer after one or two rounds ‘which one’s (Lee) Haskins?'”
“He obviously did (fill out the wrong columns), he scored the two 10:8s to Haskins! His scorecard was excellent, it was just the wrong way round.”
“Frightening that your future can be put in the hands of someone like that – and I don’t mean to be disrespectful, because he’s an old gentleman…It could have gone horribly wrong.”
BBBoC General Secretary Robert Smith announced that the judge in question would not be welcomed to score another fight under their watch.
“He got it wrong,” Smith added. “Luckily, the right man won.
“I will advise the IBF of our dissatisfaction.”
Noel Ryan, Pundit Arena