saturday, march 31st, 2001

Road Robbery in Fort Worth
Ayala Given 'Hometown Decision' over Dianzo

If you watched Friday Night Fights last night on ESPN2, then you heard Teddy Atlas say it best after they announced the winner of the Paulie Ayala vs. Hugo Dianzo WBA Bantamweight title fight:

"That's wrong! That's wrong, damnit! They need a national commission . . . ."

Scorecards read: 115-113 for Ayala; 115-113 for Ayala; and 115-112, for Ayala.

I'll be damned if I know what fight those three judges were watching, but after 12 rounds I had Hugo Dianzo as the new WBA Bantam champ with a convincing win over Paulie Ayala: 116-112. Plus, I did not score Round 4 a 10-8 round for Dianzo (I did not see it as true knockdown but as a stumble.)

Styles make fights--we all know the cliché--and last night, the saying held true as Hugo Dianzo kept his head and heart intact through 12 tough rounds by out-boxing Ayala. He kept to the outside; he kept his feet moving; he kept off the ropes. And with his jabs and big right hand, he out-boxed, out-landed and outright won the fight.

Dianzo had everything going against him. He was fighting in Paulie's hometown. He was fighting in an uncommonly small ring, only 16 feet. He was going into the ring a major underdog. And he went in knowing that a big-money showdown between Ayala and WBC Bantam champ was on the horizon.

Dianzo entered the ring knowing that the fight was already predetermined, and that nothing was going to spoil the outcome of this fight.

Yet, he won. Or should've won.

I got nothing against Paulie Ayala, although it's true, I did think Johnny Tapia beat him the second time around. In fact, having met Paulie a couple times, I’ve grown to really like and respect him. He’s one of the true gentlemen of the sport. But the truth is the truth: Dianzo won last night.

Ayala vs. Dianzo marks off our third such blatant insult already this year. Larios vs. Jorrin was the first. Then came Espadas vs. Morales . . . What’s next?

Atlas is right: Damn straight we need a national commission. An investigation. A change in the sport.

So what happens now? We get to see the fight that's already been planned for: Bones Adams vs. Paulie Ayala. 

So what? Last week, we saw a lackluster Bones barely defeat a guy who took the fight on 24 hours notice . . . a guy not even in the top 15. And last night . . . ah, the hell with it. 

"That's boxing," they say.

That's crap.

The worst part about it? Watching Paulie Ayala raise his hand in "victory," knowing that he has to know that'd he'd lost, yet having to go through the motions. And watching Hugo Dianzo, a man who fought heart and soul for 12 rounds and after the final bell, fell to his knees, exhausted and crying. ("Ain't no American Dream for a Mexican fighter," one guy emailed me to say.)

Ah, hell. I can go on and on. But all my words and lengthy explanations will pale in comparison to the three words Teddy Atlas used to sum up the fight: 

"That's wrong, damnit!"

You can contact chris cozzone at

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