Amateur boxing's governing body overturned DeSoto welterweight boxer Errol Spence Jr. loss five hours after the Texas southpaw lost to India's Krishan Vikas, 13-11, on Friday.
The International Amateur Boxing Association said that its competition jury reviewed video of the fight and found that Spence should have been awarded more points because the referee only gave one caution despite a total of nine holding fouls in the third round alone.
The referee should have given Vikas at least two warnings, the AIBA said. Spence should have been awarded at least four points because of that, making the final score 13-15 in favor of Spence, the AIBA said.
"I gave it my everything. I gave it my all," Spence said in a post-bout interview. "I feel like I scored more shots than him."
Spence moves on to the quarterfinals as Team USA Boxing's only hope for a medal in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. He faces Russia's Andrey Zamkovoy on Tuesday.
He is currently the top-ranked amateur welterweight in the country and fifth-ranked in the world.
The owner of Maple Avenue Boxing Gym in Dallas, where Spence trains, said he was "very surprised" that the AIBA overturned the decision because such reversals so rarely happen.
"I think one of the things is, the ref lifted the other fighter's arm, which is a big deal in boxing," Arnie Verbeek. "You know, it just overall looked bad. It was a bad, bad decision."
He predicted that Spence would not lose focus because of the controversy, saying it would make him stronger.
Reaction After the Loss
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Family and friends who gathered to watch the fight at Maple Avenue Boxing Gym said they were devastated by the loss.
"I think he had a good fight; I really think that he won," Spence's sister, Ebony, said through tears. "But you know, I mean he's still a winner to me, win, lose or draw -- he's still my brother, he's my champ."
Later Friday night, after learning that her brother would move on to the quarterfinals, she said he was still in "a wonderful shock" but was excited.
"I don't know what to say right now," she said. "I guess tomorrow it'll kind of hit me. I'll be there rooting for him on Tuesday."
She said she had spoken to her brother by phone Friday night and he wanted to thank everyone for their love and support.
Verbeek told NBC 5 before the AIBA ruling that people at the gym who watched bout thought Spence had won, especially in the second round.
"I think it's hard to understand the scoring sometimes," he said. "EJ is a better fighter in this fight and, in a pro fight, he would have won. Even an amateur fight -- I think he would've won this fight."
The move is the latest Olympic boxing controversy at the 2012 Summer Games in London.
While it appeared to many that Spence won his round of 16 against Vikas, the judges' scoring gave the win to Vikas.
According to the original scores, Spence lost the first round 4-2. He came back to take round two 5-6. He then lost round three 4-3, and the final score was Vikas 13, Spence 11.
Men’s bouts take place over three rounds of three minutes each. Boxers score points for every punch they land successfully on their opponents' head or upper body.
It appeared that even the referee believed Spence was the winner, throwing his hand up before pulling it down and throwing Vikas' hand up, as the announcer made the call.
The AIBA ruling that overturned the result of the bout reads:
There were a total of nine (9) holding fouls committed by the Indian boxer in the third round alone. However the Referee only gave one caution;
In the second round, at the time 02:38, the boxer from India spitted out his gumshield intentionally. However the Referee didn't give any warning
Based on these findings, the Competition Jury Members unanimously decided the following:
Decision #1: Based on the AIBA Technical & Competition Rules 12.1.9, the Referee should have given at least two (2) warnings to the Indian boxer;
Decision #2: Although the boxer from India intentionally spitted out his gumshield, the Referee's view was blocked by the boxer from the USA and was not able to see the action;
Final Decision: Based on Decision #1, at least four (4) points should have been awarded to the boxer from the USA. Therefore the final score should be 13:15 in favour of the USA. The protest is accepted and the winner of Bout #142 is Errol Spence (USA).
NBC 5's Scott Gordon contributed to this report.