The World Boxing Association (WBA) suspended judge Gloria Martinez Rizzo after a controversial scorecard and discovery of racist tweets.
12:00:42 A.M. ET
ESPN’s Mike Coppinger
Following her extremely contentious scorecard in the Mykal Fox-Gabriel Maestre interim welterweight championship bout and the discovery of racist tweets on an account linked to her, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza informed ESPN on Wednesday that he is suspending judge Gloria Martinez Rizzo for six months.
Mendoza said he’ll meet with Rizzo in Miami on Thursday to discuss punishment and would consider permanently barring Rizzo from judging WBA-sanctioned bouts.
Rizzo sparked anger with a mind-boggling 117-110 scorecard in Minnesota on Saturday. Most pundits believed Fox, who won the 147-pound bout by knockout in the second round, had pulled off an upset. In the PBC on Fox co-feature, however, Maestre was awarded the winner by a unanimous vote.
Following the bout, racist comments from 2020 were found on the @GloriaRizz Twitter account, which had been tagged by the official WBA Boxing account in a December 2019 post honoring Rizzo as female judge of the year. Since then, the @GloriaRizz account has been deactivated. Remarks against Michelle Obama and LeBron James were among the racist tweets.
“Despite the unanimous verdict, we noticed her score was incorrect,” Mendoza, who was born in Venezuela, where the WBA is headquartered, stated. “She may be removed from the WBA because of her previous statements.”
“Any kind of racism is unacceptable to me. I am a firm believer in equality. Sports are sometimes the only thing that promotes equality to the globe.”
While Rizzo’s scoring was the most troublesome, Maestre was also predicted to win by the other two judges. The bout was rated 115-112 for John Mariano and 114-113 for David Singh.
Maestre (4-0, 3 KOs) is a Venezuelan native with a strong friendship with Mendoza. Maestre, a two-time Olympian, was making his American debut and moved up in competition to do so.
Fox, a Maryland southpaw, had just lost a decision to Lucas Santamaria in August. Rizzo’s tweets “shocked” the 25-year-old Black player, who told ESPN he was “a bit surprised.”
“This sport has brought me into contact with individuals from all areas of life,” Fox remarked (22-3, 5 KOs). “However, I can’t help but question whether who she is outside of boxing has an impact on how she evaluates boxing.”
“If it weren’t for the fact that it was on TV, I’d say this [choice] would be disastrous for me. That night, however, people all around the globe saw a robbery.”
When asked whether the result would be reversed, the Minnesota Office of Combative Sports did not reply; only the commission has the authority to do so. When asked whether the commission will examine the fight’s score, it remained silent. Instead, it sent a statement to ESPN, stating, “A grievance process is in place at the Minnesota Office of Combative Sports. The World Boxing Association, however, will eventually decide whether or not there will be a rematch.”
Mendoza ordered a rematch between Maestre and Fox right away, but with a few conditions. According to ESPN, there will be no champion’s advantage, and if the game ends in a tie, the title would be annulled. Also, no special permissions will be issued to allow for an interim battle. According to reports, PBC was expecting to pit fast-rising prospect Eimantas Stanionis against Maestre next. The championship will be in jeopardy if the rematch does not take place in the near future.
“We need new judges,” Mendoza said. “I have an idea for a boxing school where individuals who like boxing may enroll in online courses and have them tested in various areas of the globe. I’d want to take a break from the ring and recruit boxing enthusiasts to serve as judges.”